American Cultural Diplomacy’s Cold War Origins

During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union were concerned with showcasing the art of their respective states to the world. Both feared that artist communities had sided with government rivals, and thus explored ways to repress artistic expression with state power. The story of how American artists, philanthropists, activists, and policymakers overcame Cold War fears to create programs like Arts In The Embassies and other early organs of U.S. cultural diplomacy is an understated but vital component of the success of American arts around the world. As the Cold War began, the United States was in...


Jam Sessions on View at the US Diplomacy Center

As we move into Jazz Appreciation Month, the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy (MCCD) celebrates the unifying power of music through Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World. After runs in Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America, Jam Session is on view at the U.S. Diplomacy Center now through May 18. Jazz Diplomacy was born in 1956 when Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. proposed that Dizzy Gillespie form a jazz ensemble to represent the U.S. abroad. Competition between the Soviet Union and the United States was increasing, and these musical...


Share Your Veggies, Not Your Big Mac


When one thinks of American culture they may think of Hollywood, California beaches, or white picket fences enclosing smiling children with their golden retrievers happily loping behind them.

Or they may think of a Big Mac, a symbol of American history and excess, a beacon shining on the American mentality of more. Although the Big Mac may be associated with America, McDonalds and its burgers have spread to approximately 122 countries. The Big Mac has the same design in every restaurant location: meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a sesame seed bun. But the Big Mac has been altered in every new location it finds itself, whether it’s locally sourced beef or different types of cheese. This, in essence, is one broad example of how public health and cultural diplomacy will cross paths.


Come One, Come All! The Circus Is Coming to the National Mall

As the Smithsonian Folklife Festival enters its 50th year, Washington D.C. will welcome a group of international circus performers onto the National Mall this summer. A craft rich in history and diversity, the circus arts represent an industry where creativity trumps cultural divide. This entertainment industry, has served as an arena of collaborative imagination where the collective goal is to create an awe-inspiring show for the audience.

A performer at the Turkmenistan Circus Arts exchange, facilitated by the Meridian International Center, shows off her aerial abilities at a workshop between seasoned performers and Turkmen youth.