Gastrodiplomacy is a form of public diplomacy which uses gastronomy as tool for communication and attraction. Recent years have seen a rapid rise in gastrodiplomacy initiatives around the world.  As a component of national culture, gastronomy can reveal a society’s heritage and values, but it is also a commodity to be consumed. Gastronomy carries a blend of cultural and commercial qualities, contributing to cultural understandings but often coming from commercial contexts, such as tourism campaigns or food businesses. Gastrodiplomacy may be practised by both state and non-state actors and in both diplomatic and commercial contexts. It is this interesting mix of the cultural, commercial, private and public sectors which make gastrodiplomacy worth investigating, as it allows us to compare the outcomes of these different players and environments.

The scope for gastrodiplomacy is potentially huge. We might find it in small cultural exchange initiatives, in  tourism campaigns, in nation branding projects or simply in privately-owned food businesses around the world. Its ambitions might be diplomatic, such as a tool for soft power or cultural communication or they might be commercial, such as trying to develop a food export market.

IGCAT has identified gastrodiplomacy as an interesting trend which carries the convergence of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism in the context of public diplomacy and international relations. It will therefore be dedicating its Summer 2015 edition of the Art of Food Report on Gastrodiplomacy, looking at the following questions:

  • What is gastrodiplomacy? Is it a one-way promotion or can it be a two-way exchange? And, if the emphasis is on cultural relations, does that undermine national, regional or city branding potential?
  • What makes a cuisine authentic? Is it locally sourced ingredients prepared with different methods? Or, do the ingredients need to be exported? If gastrodiplomacy initiatives have increased food exports as one of their aims, do they wish to use locally-sourced ingredients?
  • What is the future of gastrodiplomacy? What about regional paradiplomacy initiatives (eg: European Region of Gastronomy)? Should the public and private sectors collaborate in gastrodiplomacy initiatives? If so, how?

The report will be issued/published in the form of a short digest focusing on specific areas to enable readers to respond quickly to new challenges. The Gastrodiplomacy Report, co-authored by Dr. Diane Dodd and Clara Melluish, is due to be published in Summer 2015.



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