Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 7

ARTS & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS • VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 • SPRING 2018 THE ENDURING VISION OF A WORLD WITHOUT WAR: UNESCO’S ORIENT CATALOGUE 1959 AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF AN INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY MIIA HUTTUNEN Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35 FI-40014 Jyväskylä, Finland ABSTRACT Propaganda is a term one rarely comes across in the UNESCO context. However, the organisation’s constitutionally embedded strategy to build the defences of peace in the minds of men is based on its suggested power to move actors by influencing attitudes and opinions. This article analyses UNES- CO’s early attempts to communicate its principles of peace, understanding and solidarity, and to shape values accordingly. Through the methodological approach of propaganda, understood here as a tool for analysing processes of influence, this article analyses a film catalogue titled Orient. A Survey of Films Produced in Countries of Arab and Asian Culture, published by UNESCO and the British Film Institute in 1959. Through a discussion of the agendas at play, the article addresses the questions of power, politics and ideology in the UNESCO context. Conceptualising UNESCO as a manifestation of an international society, the analysis sheds light on the po- litically motivated negotiation processes typified by contradicting preferences, emphasising the need to address UNESCO as both a political actor and a platform for political action. Introduction S ince its outset, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organiza- tion has been the topic of conversation of a rather ontological nature. Should it be addressed as a political institution or just a political product, an instrument for its Member States? Does it merely reflect the intellectual, political and ideological trends of the surrounding international society or can it actually contribute to social change? Perhaps most descriptively, is it the hope and faith in the creation of a peaceful world or the shortcomings and limitations of the human endeavours towards such a goal that are epitomised in the organisation? Big questions with no obvious answers. J.P. Singh (2010:1) quite aptly captures the ingrained tension labelling these debates: “At its best, UNESCO is the heroic intellectual and moral force of the idealism encapsulated in its 7 doi: 10.18278/aia.3.1.2