Internationalism - Cultural internationalism




With the end of the Cold War, the subject of cultural internationalism returned to prominence as it had after World War I. Disillusionment with political internationalism has not yet affected the health of the Fulbright scholarship program, begun after World War II to promote among Americans knowledge of other cultures and to attract foreign scholars to the United States. Cultural, athletic, and scientific exchanges thrived during the last third of the twentieth century. The degree to which Americans have taken up soccer, long considered a foreign sport, is a small sign of this, as is the internationalization of baseball, with American players in Japan and a great many Latin American players along with a growing number of Japanese players in the Major Leagues.

A similar story can be told about other sports, as with the internationalization of rock and roll and American films. More moviegoers saw Schindler's List (1993) and Titanic (1997) outside of the United States than inside. Michael Jordan T-shirts are worn by Asian teenagers who never saw a basketball game. The Internet, for good or ill, has connected people in different countries in ways that seemed unimaginable in 1990. This may not be exactly what the founders of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace had in mind when they formed their organization in 1910. Neither is it likely to be what President George H. W. Bush meant when he called for a new world order in 1990. Nevertheless, it addresses the vitality of cultural internationalism even when disillusionment, pessimism, and cynicism have crippled the movement politically.

In short, the history of American internationalism has been the history of complexity and inconsistency. This remains as true at the beginning of the twenty-first century as it was one hundred years earlier.

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