Negotiations around cultural heritage and the conditions of international cultural exchange increasingly take place in fragile configurations: Wars and new forms of authoritarianism, climate change and pandemic, refugee movements, and the devastating consequences of extractive capitalism are not just difficult external conditions. These issues permeate directly into the fields of action and working modes of cultural heritage managers and cultural mediators. 

Based on ethnographic field research in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Palestine/Israel, and Ukraine, I trace how cultural exchange practitioners deal with such challenges: What fields of action and micropolitical contestations do they enter? What skills, working techniques and forms of cooperation do they develop? And how can the demands in such working contexts be reconciled with the objectives and priorities of nation-states cultural policies? With the term Everyday Cultural Diplomacy I focus on the ensemble of relational, cautiously tentative working modes that cultural mediators use in order to preserve agency and the capacity to act in fragile configurations. 

Jens Adam studied European Ethnology (Cultural Anthropology) and History at Humboldt University in Berlin. There he completed his PhD with a study on “Foreign Cultural Policy as Conflict Prevention”. This dissertation – based on field research in Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Sarajevo and Berlin and awarded the ifa Research Prize for Foreign Cultural Policy – has been published as a book under the title “Ordnungen des Nationalen und die geteilte Welt”: Since 2016, he has been conducting a long-term ethnographic study on the relations between urban space development and Europeanization in the western Ukrainian city of L’viv. As part of the U Bremen Excellence Chair Research Group “Soft Authoritarianisms”, he started a research on recent authoritarian shifts within the Polish democracy in March 2020. Previously, he was an acting professor for “Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology” at Georg-August-University Göttingen and for “Maritime Anthropology” at the University of Bremen.

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