Iran’s Mediatic Diplomacy with the West: War by Other Means

Hamid Naficy.

With recent technological, communication media, and political revolutions, the standard definition of public diplomacy, which applied mainly to relations between sovereign states, no longer suffices. Instead a “new” public diplomacy has risen whereby powerful non-state actors, such as supranational organizations, sub-national actors, non-governmental organizations, and commercial companies, communicate and engage with foreign publics. This new definition has opened the way for Western and Iranian governments to tap not only into their own respective national media and pop cultures but also into the Iranian diaspora media and pop culture to convey their values to opposing governments, to their respective populations, and to the Iranian publics at home and in diaspora. It is thus that these domestic and diasporic publics have become important third and fourth players in this globalized mediatic public diplomacy. This has made for a very contested and combustible sort of public diplomacy with grave consequences for some of its practitioners. The talk is illustrated with video clips.

Naficy, Hamid

Naficy is Professor of Radio-Television-Film and the Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in Communication at Northwestern University, where he also has an appointment with the Department of Art History. He is a leading authority in cultural studies of diaspora, exile, and postcolonial cinemas and media and of Iranian and Middle Eastern cinemas. Naficy has published and lectured extensively, nationally and internationally, on these and allied topics. His English language books are: An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking; Home, Exile, Homeland: Film, Media, and the Politics of Place; The Making of Exile Cultures: Iranian Television in Los Angeles; Otherness and the Media: the Ethnography of the Imagined and the Imaged (co-edited); and Iran Media Index. His latest work is the award-winning four-volume book A Social History of Iranian Cinema, published in 2011-12. He has also published extensively in Persian, including a two-volume book on the documentary cinema theory and history, Film-e Mostanad. He has also produced and directed many educational and documentary films.