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Hearts and Minds

US Cultural Management in 21st Century Foreign Relations


Edited By Matthew Chambers

This volume looks at a key component of recent US foreign relations, namely, its emphasis on «hearts and minds» as part of its cultural management of the global Other. The authors collected here analyze to what extent we can frame the intent and consequences of this term as a coherent policy, discussing how to think about foreign policy strategies that involve the management of cultural relations.

«Including fascinating first-hand and deeply-researched accounts of the workings of various US institutions (many of them ‘cultural’), this volume is a must for an understanding of the power the US projects worldwide.» Professor Laleh Khalili, SOAS University of London

«This fascinating collection reveals the nuance and complexity behind a seemingly banal phrase.» Professor David Schmid, State University of New York at Buffalo

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‘These Girls Hold Our Future in Their Hands’: The Case of Girl Rising


Prologue: Cosmodern Circulations, Cosmodern Fantasies

This essay analytically and critically approaches the operation enacted by and through the 2013 film Girl Rising. As I shall attempt to demonstrate, several cultural and political issues germane to US identity and agency as constructed in the connection/rift between locality and globality coalesce around Girl Rising. Hence, my analytical effort also wants provide an occasion for reflecting on the contemporary cultural construction of the US face to the world. I suggest that this problematic is historically ‘cosmodern’ in the sense elaborated by Christian Moraru: after 1989, US culture developed an increasing awareness of the global interdependence of individuals and communities; this is coterminous with an American realization of being ‘in the world’ and needing to relate to the rest of the world – to achieve well-being, but also for sheer survival (Moraru 2011).

On the one hand, I will place the film in the context of its ‘movement’. By this term, I mean not only its advocacy of a cause, but also the film’s intended and necessary circulation, and some of the forms and implications of this circulation. Paying attention to ‘circulation’ means to follow cultural and political subjects and objects in their movements, reciprocal positions, and proportions. Critically reading both the film as a cultural and rhetorical object and some of the ‘thresholds’1 between the film and the related campaign, I will analyze how Girl Rising tells and disseminates stories of female empowerment through education, turning them into...

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