If you are reading this post in English, chances are you’re not English. You are, however, interested in things English or in English-speaking cultures. And why is that? Do you remember how you became interested in English? It was most likely introduced to you and advocated by people or institutions in your life. Sometimes this may have been done privately and spontaneously, but most of the times it was done purposefully, on a permanent basis, and in a professional way. Because we are not instinctually drawn to acquire and master foreign cultures or languages – quite the contrary. We tend to fear and reject them. Then how do people get to accept alien idioms and customs? When not forced to do so, someone else persuades them, sways them to open up to and embrace the unfamiliar – that is the work of cultural agents and mediators of all sorts.
We are talking about trained and proficient individuals who understand culture and cultural differences, who know the various ways in which cultures interact and mingle. As such, they are wonderfully placed in between different cultures and are able to genuinely understand and adequately translate them — make them less uncanny and unintelligible. The British Cultural Studies MA programme trains you, among other things, to be an effective and competent cultural go-between. Many countries and organizations employ personalities as cultural ambassadors. But all countries have unemployed and even unwitting cultural ambassadors. Have you ever considered that when you take a vacation abroad or when you go on a student exchange scheme you are one, too? What does that mean and how should you behave? How do you cope with and overcome cultural stereotypes? How do you show respect for another culture and inspire respect for yours? How do you explain one culture to another? How do you make a foreign culture appreciated and relatable? And can you distinguish between the different subcultures within a foreign culture?
Depending on how well you train in our programme, you may acquire the knowledge and skills to work in cultural diplomacy and in all kinds of cultural intermediation professions. This may mean working for an embassy or a cultural institute; being a cultural analyst or the cultural interface for businesses who need to understand the local culture before broaching that market or for non-profit organizations who want to promote a cause or develop a project across cultural boundaries; designing the language and approach for campaigns targeting another culture; or simply being employed as the expert in a certain linguistic and cultural area. You will have more than just information on that culture, you will have expertise in how cultural images are constructed and deconstructed in that culture. And you will be knowledgeable about the medium of cultural images and mediation – discourse. Cultural discourse will be your passport to cultural diplomacy and intermediation.