As we move further into the 21st century, government-to-government contact will become much less important in deciding the future of relations between nation states, says Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American activist, writer and scholar of religions. So what will be taking its place? People-to-people-based encounters and public diplomacy, he suggests.
And, at that level of communication, ‘it’s precisely the culture and the arts that are going to become the new language,’ according to Aslan.
Asia Society Director of Cultural Programmes Rachel Cooper seems to agree, especially when it comes to the New York-based organization’s ‘Creative Voice of Islam in Asia’ project.
I received an email from the Asia Society this week pointing me to a recent interview in which Cooper explains that by bringing together ‘multiple voices from all over Asia,’ one of the main goals of ‘Creative Voice of Islam in Asia’ is ‘to use the arts as a springboard for creating bridges of understanding.’ Specifically, these voices are broadcast through musical performances, exhibitions, dance, literature, film series and education programmes.
Some highlights so far have been a New York Sufi Music Festival that used music to project ‘Pakistan's peaceful human face and culture,’ Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan,an exhibition that brought together some of the most significant, provocative, and influential artists in the first US museum survey exhibition of contemporary Pakistani art, and a digital storytelling programme that brought students from the United States and Indonesia together through the creation and exchange of audio slideshows in classrooms.
I agree that the arts are a crucial connector between people across cultures, and I truly hope that as Aslan predicts, the trend will continue to be emphasized on a larger scale by countries worldwide.
For more information on Asia Society’s Creative Voice of Islam in Asia programme and to see some past performances, check out the multimedia slideshow below:
NEW YORK, November 14, 2010 – Asia Society offers an introductory video for its Creative Voices of Islam in Asia initiative, which uses the arts to foster understanding Islam as a creative inspiration. (4 min., 22 sec.)
More about Creative Voices of Islam in Asia <http://asiasociety.org/node/10860>