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Accepted Paper:

The Enchantment of Radio Listening. Soft Power and Cold War Radio Broadcasting  
Patricia Jäggi (Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts)

Paper short abstract:

International radio was influential as acoustic soft power during Cold War. The paper will focus on the sensory and 'enchanting' dimension of shortwave radio broadcasts, reconstructs the 'imagined (cosmopolitan) listening community' and looks critically at radio as form of cultural diplomacy.

Paper long abstract:

Thanks to shortwave transmission technology, international radio became the first medium which was able to transmit messages and sounds in realtime to listeners woldwide. That's why it was used by both sides of the Iron Curtain to politically influence the listeners on the other side. And both sides used jamming to defend the country from unwanted 'propaganda'. My investigation focused at the Shortwave Service from Switzerland, a country that has repeatedly claimed to be politically 'neutral'. How did the country represent itself abroad? Which national narratives, music and sounds were used to produce a positive image? By adapting sensory-ethnographical approaches (Pink 2009) to my field of inquiry-the ether-I aimed at reconstructing (former) listening experiences. I focused on the sensory dimension of shortwave radio and its interplay with its political role as cultural diplomat (Gienow-Hecht and Donfried 2010). In my presentation I will sketch prevailing national narratives that were used in the cultural programmes (1950 to 1975) and ask how does 'soft power' relates to the sensorialness, attentiveness and an affective involvement of radio listeners. My paper thus aims to reflect on the role of soft power and cultural diplomacy in the context of listening experiences and of an 'imagined (cosmopolitan) listening community' (following Anderson 1983).

B. R. O. Anderson: Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London 1983.

J. C. E. Gienow-Hecht and M. C. Donfried, Eds.: Searching for a Cultural Diplomacy. New York 2010.

S. Pink, Doing Sensory Ethnography. Los Angeles 2009.

Panel P134
What is soft about soft power? Critical engagements with an emerging form of statecraft
  Session 1 Friday 17 August, 2018, -