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Cultural Diplomacy as Cultural Globalization: The University of Michigan Jazz Band in Latin America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2010

Abstract

From January to May 1965 the University of Michigan Jazz Band traveled extensively in Latin America for the State Department's Cultural Presentations Program. This tour serves as a case study through which we can see the far-reaching effects of cultural diplomacy. The State Department initially envisioned its cultural and informational programs as one-way communication that brought ideas from the United States to new places; yet the tours changed not only audiences, but also the musicians themselves and even the communities to which the musicians returned. Both archival and oral history evidence indicate that the Michigan jazz band's tour succeeded in building vital imagined connections across international borders. The nature of these connections demonstrates that the cold war practice of pushing culture across borders for political purposes furthered cultural globalization—even though the latter process is often regarded by scholars as a phenomenon that began only after the end of the cold war. The jazz band's tour highlights the essential role of music and musicians in fostering new transnational sensibilities in the politicized context of the cold war.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Music 2010

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