Entanglements of power: US-Italian cultural networks, agency and transactions in the early Cold War

Bernardi, Ilaria (2022). Entanglements of power: US-Italian cultural networks, agency and transactions in the early Cold War. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis explores the informal connections between Italian and American elites in the early Cold War period. It investigates primarily the US-Italian network created throughout the 1950s and early 1960s by two US exchange programmes: the Foreign Leader Program and the Foreign Specialist Program. Such programmes were part of American cultural diplomacy’s activities and were devoted to the promotion of mutual understanding and the reinforcement of American soft power. In particular, the US State Department’s exchange programmes engaged foreign leaders in all fields and tried to socialise the participants to American political objectives and cultural values.

Rather than looking at these connections and at the processes shaping the exchanges between US-Italian elites as a projection of US power, the thesis aims to offer a new perspective on these relations by exploring the agency of Italian cultural leaders. By focusing on the relational aspects in the US-Italian network, namely on how informal connections shaped and were shaped by the interactions among the participants involved, it brings to light the mechanisms and the negotiations entailed in these processes. Through the adoption of an innovative mixed-method approach combining Social Network Analysis and the analysis of the correspondence between Italian actors and American counterparts, this work explores both structural and ideational aspects, i.e., it tackles the actors’ embeddedness and various understandings. In this way, it aims to offer a re-interrogation of the dynamics underpinning the implementation of American cultural diplomacy and the transactions between the elites across the Atlantic.

As this research shows, the complexity of these exchanges resulting from different relational patterns and negotiations hindered a simple socialisation of Italian elites to American values. Rather, it produced different types of engagement (such as mediating, gatekeeping and
indirect involvement), which contributed to shape and change the processes within the network. Documenting and interrogating this, the thesis contributes to unveiling the multidimensional and multilateral processes in the US-Italian network. It also aims to expand the notion of Cold War networks through their conceptualisation as spaces of interaction, allowing for a reconsideration of the role of the receiving end of American cultural diplomacy’s activities.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DG Italy
E History America > E151 United States (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12579


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