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

ARTS & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS mean its basic system of values, the premises from which its thought and action derive.” In the culture-as-a-way-of-life sense, the catalogue thus separates the world into two ma- jor societies—the Eastern and the Western— suggesting that the idea of an internation- al society resting upon a specific shared culture could all too easily be cast aside. As one of the founding representatives of the English School, Martin Wight (1977:33), put it, “[w]e must assume that a states-system [referring to an international society] will not come into being without a degree of cultural unity among its members.” Thus, action needs to be taken to remedy this shortcoming detectable in the introduction. To bridge the gap between the two culturally defined societies of differing values, the catalogue aims to replace ignorance with knowledge, and misunderstanding with understanding by attacking harmful stereotypes and misrepresentations. We don’t need to dig very deep to see that in the UNESCO context, the terms understanding and misunderstand- ing carry a lot of meaning. “[I]gnorance of each other’s ways and lives has been a com- mon cause, throughout the history of mankind, of that suspicion and mistrust between the peoples of the world through which their differences have all too often broken into war” and so the UNESCO Member States aim “to develop and to increase the means of communication between their peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives” (UNESCO 1945:Preamble). Misunderstanding and ignorance for UNESCO are evi- dently the root causes of war and conflict, whereas understanding and knowledge are the road to peace. Thus, the basis of an international society according to UNESCO must be a shared culture constructed on the fundamental, universal value of peace. As Bull (1977:316) points out, all the historical manifestations of an international society have had as one of their foundations a common culture, be it an intellectual one facilitating communication or one built on values, reinforcing a sense of common interests. In the case of UNESCO’s vision, both of these aspects had a part to play. Henry Cassirer steered the project at the UNESCO end. He was the first director of UNESCO’s department of Mass Communications and ran the department for nearly two decades. For Cassirer, the new forms of media were instruments of social change, education and development (The Guardian 2015). Even though direct action, such as knowledge transmission through different forms of media, textbook translations, and international conferences, has been one of UNESCO’s prominent working methods, the ways they wish to change the world are of a rather ideologically profound nature (UNESCO 1950). Cassirer’s approach to mass media as not only an indicator but a con- tributor to social development thus made him a very fitting person to tie together UN- ESCO’s ideological aspirations with the practicalities of the real world, and to safeguard UNESCO’s goals during the project. In addition to overseeing the project, Cassirer was in charge of the negotiations with the BFI and assisted with communicating with the National Commissions for UNESCO in the Member States concerned. The second key actor is the British Film Institute, a charity governed by a Royal Charter. An agreement with an outside organisation was to be contracted to “[a]scertain which 16