‘The Power of Musical Diplomacy in a Divided World’
Mark Katz (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
For more 75 years the U.S. Department of State
has been sending American musicians abroad to
tour and teach, based on the belief that music is
an effective means to promote “people to people”
diplomacy, in which citizens rather than government
officials work to foster mutual understanding. In
2001, and after much internal debate, the State
Department began deploying hip-hop artists as
cultural ambassadors. In 2013 it established Next
Level, a program that connects American hiphop
artists with youth in underserved communities
around the world.
I have served as Director of Next Level since its
inception, and have overseen programs in 19
countries. Based on this experience, and on nearly
one hundred interviews with hip-hop artists and
government officials, I argue that hip-hop—
because of its global popularity, accessibility
to those with few resources, and appealing
mythos—is an effective means for finding
common cause among people, especially youth,
of different cultures. Although I acknowledge, and
am often haunted by, the risks that attend U.S.
cultural diplomacy, I believe in its potential for
good and its continued relevance. Hip-hop, a voice
of struggle and celebration worldwide, has the
power to build global community at time when it is
so desperately needed.
Musicologist Mark Katz is the Ruel W. Tyson Jr. Distinguished Professor of the Humanities and the Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His books include Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music and Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ. Since 2013 he has directed the U.S. Department of State–funded cultural diplomacy program, Next Level, which connects American hip-hop artists with underserved communities around the world. In 2016, Katz was awarded the Dent Medal by the Royal Musical Association.
Dates & times
|16 Oct 2017||5:00pm - 6:30pm|
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