Making Foreign Policy in a Multicultural Society

The Old College

The Old College

16 October 2006

Monday, October 16 2006
Making Foreign Policy in a Multicultural Society
Professor Christopher Hill to deliver the 21st E H Carr Memorial Lecture
Professor Christopher Hill, Director of the Centre of International Studies at the University of Cambridge, will deliver the Annual E H Carr Memorial Lecture at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth on Thursday 19 October at 7.00pm in the Old Hall of the University's Old College.

Professor Hill specialises in the analysis of foreign policy, with special reference to Europe. The lecture, ‘Making Foreign Policy in a Multicultural Society', will focus on one of the most important and controversial dimensions of foreign policy making at the start of the twenty-first century.
Prior to his appointment to his current post in 2004 he taught in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he was the Montague Burton Professor.

This is a public lecture, everyone is welcome.

Making Foreign Policy in a Multicultural Society
Much has been written about multiculturalism over the last decade, while since 11 September 2001 there has been a renewal of the debate on the appropriate conduct of foreign policy in a democratic society. Yet the two sets of considerations have not been brought systematically together, until very recently. In the United Kingdom the attacks of 7 July 2005 on the people of London produced political exchanges over ‘enemies within’, or the impossibility of handing a veto over national foreign policy to a particular minority. This lecture seeks to bring a more analytical dimension to this debate, by providing both comparative and historical perspectives.

It takes three different models of state approaches to cultural diversity – the American, the British, and the French – so as to examine their implications for foreign policy, and vice versa. It concludes that each approach will have to revise significantly its understanding of the balance between efficiency and accountability in foreign policy-making, not least because civil peace and international peace are now connected in ways that previous theories had not imagined.

It should, nonetheless, be possible to rework practices and principles to allow the state to protect the interests of the society for which it exists without either scapegoating an internal minority or pursuing a policy of the lowest common dominator. Conversely, ways must be found to ensure that minority groups with particularly strong concerns about external policy have their voices heard without raising complaints over special treatment.

This is a political, moral and technical challenge of a high order, but if it is not met, foreign policy risks running into even greater problems of legitimacy than it has already experienced in the first hundred years of mass democracy.

Multiculturalism raises obvious issues over schooling, dress, state subsidies and the like. But what are its ramifications for foreign policy? Until very recently this has seemed a non-issue; now it blazes with controversy. This lecture attempts to take an analytical approach to the issues at stake, by looking at the experience of three states with different approaches to multiculturalism: France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

EH Carr Memorial Lectures – a background
The Woodrow Wilson Chair of International Politics was established at Aberyswyth in 1919 and is the oldest chair in the subject. E. H. Carr, the fourth holder of the Chair, was probably its most distinguished occupant. During his years at Aberystwyth (1936-1947), Carr wrote The Twenty Years' Crisis 1919-1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations, which is generally regarded as one of the seminal works in the discipline. He was later best known in the wider world of scholarship for his multi-volume work, A History of Soviet Russia and his best-selling What is History? Carr died in 1982 at the age of 90.

The Department has been holding an annual lecture in his memory since 1984. The E.H. Carr Memorial Lecture is delivered to a public audience on a subject chosen by the speaker in the general field of international politics.

The lecture series was originally funded solely by royalties from books which resulted from conferences sponsored by the Department over some 20 years at Gregynog Hall, the University of Wales conference centre near Newtown, Powys.  Gregynog was the home of David Davies, who endowed the Wilson Chair.  The lecture series is now in part funded by Sage, the publishers of International Relations, the journal of the David Davies Memorial Institute.