Diasporas and Diplomacy: Cosmopolitan contact zones at the BBC World Service (1932–2012), 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Diasporas and Diplomacy

Cosmopolitan contact zones at the BBC World Service (1932–2012), 1st Edition

Edited by Marie Gillespie, Alban Webb


254 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Diasporas and Diplomacy analyzes the exercise of British ‘soft power’ through the BBC’s foreign language services, and the diplomatic role played by their diasporic broadcasters. The book offers the first historical and comparative analysis of the ‘corporate cosmopolitanism’ that has characterized the work of the BBC’s international services since the inception of its Empire Service in 1932 – from radio to the Internet.

A series of empirically-grounded case studies, within a shared analytical framework, interrogate transformations in international broadcasting relating to:

  • colonialism and corporate cosmopolitanism
  • diasporic and national identities
  • public diplomacy and international relations
  • broadcasters and audiences 

The book will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology and anthropology, media and cultural studies, journalism, history, politics, international relations, as well as of research methods that cross the boundaries between the Social Sciences and Humanities. It will also appeal to broadcast journalists and practioners of strategic communication.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements. List of Contributors. Introduction: Diasporas and Diplomacy: Cosmopolitan Contact Zones at the Bbc World Service 1932–2012 by Marie Gillespie and Alban Webb Part I: National Interests with a Global Reach: Projection, Persuasion and Intonation 1. ‘It Is a Real Joy to Get Listening of Any Kind from the Homeland’: BBC Radio and British Diasporic Audiences in the 1930s by Emma Robertson 2.The Colonization of the BBC: Diasporic Britons At The BBC External Services, c.1932–1956 by Simon J. Potter 3. ‘Frau Wernicke’ at the BBC: Wartime Satire and Propaganda by Rhys W. Williams 4. Les Français Parlent Aux Français: Voices from London on the Persecution of the Jews byRenée Poznanski 5. The BBC Polish Section and the Reporting of Polish Solidarity, 1980–83 by Alban Webb Part II: Cultures of Diplomacy in the Post-War Middle East and Asia 6. The BBC Arabic Service’s Dilemmatic Triangle: Competing Elites, Conflicting Priorities, Contested Media Strategies by Ramy Aly and Gerd Baumann 7. The BBC World Service – From Wartime Propaganda to Public Diplomacy: The Case of Iran by Annabelle Sreberny and Massoumeh Torfeh 8. The BBC in South Asia: From the End of Empire to the Cold War by Alasdair Pinkerton 9. Language, Nationhood and Diaspora at the BBC Urdu Service 1940–2010 by David Page 10. Diaspora Calling the Homeland? The BBC Persian Service, Cosmopolitanism and Music Listening in Iran by Jason Toynbee and Leili Sreberny Mohammadi Part III: Corporate Cosmopolitanism and the Global Conversation 11. Communication for Development and Public Diplomacy: Insights from an Afghan Radio Drama by Andrew Skuse 12. What Kind of Global Conversation? Participation, Democratic Deepening and Public Diplomacy through BBC World Service Online Forums: An Examination of Mediated Global Talk about Religion and Politics by David Herbert and Tracey Black 13. Discussions on BBC Chinese Have Your Say Forums: National Identity and International Broadcasting in the Interactive Media Era by Jingrong Tong and Hugh Mackay

About the Series


Culture, Economy and the Social

This series establishes the importance of innovative contemporary, comparative and historical work on the relations between social, cultural and economic change. It publishes empirically-based research that is theoretically informed, that critically examines the ways in which social, cultural and economic change is framed and made visible, and that is attentive to perspectives that tend to be ignored or side-lined by grand theorising or epochal accounts of social change. The series addresses the diverse manifestations of contemporary capitalism, and considers the various ways in which the `social', `the cultural' and `the economic' are apprehended as tangible sites of value and practice. It is explicitly comparative, publishing books that work across disciplinary perspectives, cross-culturally, or across different historical periods.

We are particularly focused on publishing books in the following areas that fit with the broad remit of the series:

  • Cultural consumption
  • Cultural economy
  • Cities and urban change
  • Materiality, sociality and the post-human
  • Culture and media industries
  • Culture and governance
  • Emerging forms of cultural and economic practice

The series is actively engaged in the analysis of the different theoretical traditions that have contributed to critiques of the `cultural turn'. We are particularly interested in perspectives that engage with Bourdieu, Foucauldian approaches to knowledge and cultural practices, Actor-network approaches, and with those that are associated with issues arising from Deleuze's work around complexity, affect or topology. The series is equally concerned to explore the new agendas emerging from current critiques of the cultural turn: those associated with the descriptive turn for example. Our commitment to interdisciplinarity thus aims at enriching theoretical and methodological discussion, building awareness of the common ground has emerged in the past decade, and thinking through what is at stake in those approaches that resist integration to a common analytical model.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies