Gastrodiplomacy: Culture through Cuisine

Blog Post by: Nashwah Akhtar

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By eating our way throughout Southeast Asia, culinary experiences posted to our @gastrompd Instagram account, we found a great deal of globalization could be discovered though food. Cuisines and flavors throughout Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, and Singapore were shared, transmitted, and exchanged between these countries and those neighboring. We enjoyed a taste of history and sociology through gastrodiplomacy, and our tastebuds didn’t complain, either.

A term and concept popularized by our very own Master of Public Diplomacy alumn Paul Rockower, this type of public diplomacy is used by many countries, as a way of communicating culture through food, to promote a country’s culture and generate cross-cultural understanding. As mentioned within his article “The State of Gastrodiplomacy,” written for the May 2014 Issue of Public Diplomacy Magazine, he states, “As such, gastrodiplomacy understands that you don’t win hearts and minds through rational information, but rather through indirect emotional connections. Therefore, a connection with audiences is made in tangible sensory interactions as a means of indirect public diplomacy via cultural connections. These ultimately help to shape long-term cultural perceptions in a manner that can be both more effective and more indirect than targeted strategic communications.”

We hope for this Instagram account to continue as a research tool used each year by future MPD Research groups, to highlight their culinary experience(s) throughout the world,  so that this type of cultural diplomacy might be shared and better understood.

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