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Experiments in Cultural Diplomacy: Music as Mediation in Canadian-Brazilian Relations (1940s-1960s)


Experiments in Cultural Diplomacy: Music as Mediation in Canadian-Brazilian Relations (1940s-1960s)

Fillion, Eric (2019) Experiments in Cultural Diplomacy: Music as Mediation in Canadian-Brazilian Relations (1940s-1960s). PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis traces the origins of Canada’s cultural diplomacy by analyzing the role of music in Canadian-Brazilian relations from the early 1940s to the late 1960s. Brazil was the only country with which Canada had a cultural agreement at the time. Lacking experience in that realm, the Department of External Affairs let state and non-state actors on the ground lead the show. Those individuals (diplomats, artists, broadcasters, and Canadian capitalists, among others) had considerable leeway to put forward their own vision of Canada with the knowledge that national projection and national self-representation were part of the same feedback loop. Because they were conceived with both foreign and domestic audiences in mind, their experiments in musical diplomacy placed Canadians’ simultaneous search for a national and an international identity within a transnational context. Improvised as it was, this musical nation branding exercise was intertwined with a broad range of individual and collective agendas that cut across various combinations of political, business, religious, ethnic, linguistic, and even family ties. Latinity and Catholicism, but also métissage and family, were some of the dominant tropes that official and impromptu ambassadors employed to engage Brazilian publics. This process involved a reckoning with Brazil’s cultural and ‘racial’ difference that used musical genres (for example, ‘serious music’ as opposed to samba and jazz) to foreground ‘whiteness’ as the normative link between Canadians and Brazilians. As such, Canada’s plunge into the realm of musical diplomacy reflected and shaped where ‘white’ Canadians – whether francophones or anglophones – situated themselves vis-à-vis ‘others’ at home and abroad. ‘Race’ and empire, but also religion and gender, informed the musical nation branding efforts of this story’s protagonists. According to them, Brazil’s location on the periphery of the industrialized North made it an ideal place to experiment with the projection of Canada’s image abroad. It was the distant stage upon which internal (identity) politics and aspirations could be played out.

Borrowing from Benedict Anderson’s work on nationalism and Georgina Born’s research on the mediating potential of music, this thesis is based on a broad range of sources (textual, audio, and visual) collected through multisite research: from Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Brasília to Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Quebec City, and Halifax.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Fillion, Eric
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:January 2019
Thesis Supervisor(s):Carr, Graham
Keywords:public diplomacy, music diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, Canadian international history, musical diplomacy, sound diplomacy, musically imagined communities
ID Code:985170
Deposited By: ERIC FILLION
Deposited On:07 Jun 2019 17:06
Last Modified:01 Apr 2021 01:00
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