BRICS Steph Dennison


The Soft Power, Cinema and the BRICS Steering Committee Members.

Network steering committee (from left): Song Hwee Lim, Alessandra Meleiro, Vlad Strukov, Stephanie Dennison (PI), Chris Homewood, Paul Cooke and Rachel Dwyer (CI)

In this AHRC-funded research network we will look at the implications for global film culture of the apparent shift in power relations between the developed and developing world, along with the increasing emphasis national and transnational organisations place on the role of ‘soft power’ in global foreign policy, focussing specifically on the BRICS. Individual members of this group, most obviously China and India, have been much discussed in this context. However, the diverse, and often competing ways the group as a whole engages with film as a medium of artistic expression, on the one hand, and a soft power ‘resource’ on the other, along with the wider implications for world cinemas of its members’ very different, and dynamic, positions within the global media landscape, remain to be investigated comparatively. 

The project is timely, given the following: soft power is an explicit element of the current (2012 start) Chinese government five-year plan; one of the EU’s strategic objectives is to promote culture as a vital element of EU international relations; and the first report of the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Soft Power and the UK’s influence (‘Persuasion and Power in the Modern World’) was published last year (2014) and was widely commented on in the international press. As well as drawing on evidence from representatives of British commercial interests, culture industry representatives and academics (including members of Leeds’ Centre for World Cinemas), the committee made reference to the so-called ‘rise of the rest’ and very notably sought and reproduced information on soft power issues relating to BRICS countries (especially China and Brazil). Thus the time is clearly ripe to explore in greater detail the employment of soft-power strategies by emerging nations, in order to nuance discussions on what successful soft power ‘looks like’ in different parts of the globe, and by providing analysis from the perspective of film culture. 

The network builds on both the connections established and the research findings of a World Universities Network-supported project entitled Film Policy, Cultural Diplomacy and Soft Power (2012-2014), which brought together scholars working on cultural policy issues relating to soft power in China, Hong Kong, Denmark, South Africa, Brazil and the UK, with a focus on how policymakers seek to achieve soft power objectives, and how they negotiate artistic, economic and political networks.

This Research Network is funded by the AHRC.

Soft power, cinema and BRICS - AHRC (permission obtained)