Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 16

THE ENDURING VISION OF A WORLD WITHOUT WAR three key actors behind the catalogue project: UNESCO, the British Film Institute and the National Commissions for UNESCO. UNESCO was founded in November 1945 as a part of the attempts to reconstruct the post-war world transitioning from war to peace. UNESCO came into existence as a result of a firm belief that the origins of World War II lay in a grotesque perversion of basic human values, “the dignity, equality and mutual respect of men” (UNESCO 1945:Preamble). A new order of peace in the world was to be built on mutual understanding and a better knowledge of each other’s lives; assuming that removing ignorance and prejudice will automatically eliminate war itself. Much had, however, changed in the decade following the organisation’s founding. The Korean War broke out in the summer of 1950, leading to a painful realisation that wars were not a nightmare of the past after all, and testing people’s faith in international organisations dedicated to the promotion of peace. Nevertheless, during its first decade, UNESCO almost doubled in size, suggesting that not all hope was lost. The expansion of UNESCO, resulting from decolonisation, along with abandoning the political divisions of World War II through the admission of Japan and the Federal Republic of Germany in the first half of the 1950s, brought about a heterogenisation of the organisation. Questions of mutual understanding and appreciation became ever more topical. The geographical areas previously closed to UNESCO were now open, but the world had slipped deep into the Cold War ideological polarisation. With these developments, the questions of peace would have to be addressed with deeper determination than ever before. The officially stated aim of the catalogue has UNESCO written all over it: The aim of the Survey is to stimulate the presentation of films which might give audiences in the West a fuller and more informed idea of the ways of life of Eastern peoples. With this end in view a selection has been made from among many thousands of films, of those which best illustrate significant aspects of life, feeling or thought in their country of origin and have outstanding technical and artistic qualities. (Holmes 1959) The basic idea behind the catalogue as clarified in this quote was to set focus on culture as both a possible source of conflict and a solution to it: In a sense, seeing in cultural distinctiveness�made visible through creative expressions�the possibility of a common culture. It seems UNESCO’s understanding of culture here is two-fold and slightly problematic: On the one hand, it serves as a means of promoting mutual understanding; on the other hand, it has a broader, normative and constitutive sense with aspects of the social embedded in it. A common culture is also a distinguishing feature of international society, an aspect generally approached with deep suspicion among IR theorists. Yet, what exactly is understood by both the concept and its significance to world order is slightly unclear. The catalogue’s approach to culture as a way of life bears significant resemblance to Bull’s (1977:64) understanding of the concept: “By a society’s culture we 15