Europe East and West? USSR and France as Cultural Diplomacy Actors in Occupied Austria, 1945-1955

  • Abstract:

    Looking at a rather unusual French-Soviet comparison, the paper attempts a critique of cultural diplomacy theoretical framework aiming to adapt it to the complexity of cultural phenomena not explained through politically-centred approaches. It argues that cultural prestige, to be attained by inherently cultural means, is no less meaningful for country’s standing abroad than promotion of political values. Moreover, political propaganda could jeopardise the very goals it was designed to attain (as with the USSR), and softer cultural power was rightly considered an alternative by some more flexible cultural actors. Its potential ought not to be overestimated, but art for art’s sake was a factor in relations between the peoples, and it constituted a common European framework in which France, Russia and Austria (representing Western, Central and Eastern Europe) could converse, stressing both their differences and commonalities.