Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations


Cultural Diplomacy, Raqs Sharqi, Dance


"Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, America’s image abroad plunged, especially in the Arab world, where anti-Americanism has been on the rise. America’s hard power alone can no longer efficiently boost America’s reputation and the U.S. government has abandoned its soft power resources. Although important, the linchpin of public diplomacy, known as cultural diplomacy, I argue has become a neglected diplomatic tool in U.S.-Middle East relations. Accordingly, this thesis will explore the role of dance in cultural diplomacy as a catalyst of releasing tension and bringing peace among nation-states, especially in U.S.-Egypt relations. After the calamities of the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, the role of Egypt as a valuable U.S. ally in the Arab world has brought uncertainty among U.S. foreign policy makers, mainly because of its Muslim Brotherhood-nurtured Egyptian president. The U.S. Department of State should revisit its soft power strategies such as its successful cultural exchange programs during the Cold War, and apply them to its current U.S.-Egypt relations. In order to test my hypothesis, I will elucidate the importance of Raqs Sharqi as an effective diplomatic tool of cultural diplomacy in U.S.-Egypt relations. Hence, special attention will be given to the critical assessment of several case studies during the Cold War, in particular, the role of American dancers as cultural diplomats, who successfully broke down ideological and cultural barriers in political hot spots with growing anti- Americanism. The conclusion offers recommendations that serve as a prescription to reduce anti-American attitudes. Although Raqs Sharqi in cultural diplomacy is not a panacea to U.S.-Middle East relations, I argue it is an important feature of soft power. Key words: cultural diplomacy, international relations, soft power, Raqs Sharqi, dance."



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