Prof Gary Rawnsley

Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

1995 …2021

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Personal profile

Research Interests

My research is located at the intersection of international relations and international communications, and I have written extensively on “soft power”, public and cultural diplomacy, propaganda, and international broadcasting, as well as the media and democracy, and political cinema.

Having authored a Green Paper for the British Council on Britain’s soft power, I am now writing a book called What is Soft Power? This will serve as a general introduction to the subject and strip away some of the myths about soft power (for example, soft power is cultural power; governments can strategise how they accumulate and exercise soft power; and that soft power can be a substitute for hard power). Rather, I am interested in understanding the ‘power’ in soft power and relocating the concept back in the disciplines of politics and international relations. The book takes a broad-brush approach and examines the soft power from a comparative as well as theoretical perspective.

Other large projects include editing The Handbook of Political Propaganda (for Edward Elgar); and a special issue (edited with Michael Keane) of Global Media and China on the theme, Data on Demand: Ranking the nation, predicting the future.

I am also writing – with Dr Yu Ming of Beijing Normal University (and award winning filmmaker) - an article about the representation of the 1940 evacuation from Dunkirk in both fictional films and documentaries; and I plan to write a paper on the way the 1950 British movie, Chance of a Lifetime, represent social changes after the Second World War, especially the rise of the middle classes.  Finally, I am also interested in the American children’s television programme, Sesame Street, as a particular form of public diplomacy (in the way it has been adapted for local audiences around the world); and the connection between British cultural diplomacy and the works of William Shakespeare once they are appropriated in local contexts: Does Shakespeare really represent and communicate a snapshot of the UK?

Orcid Account/ID: 0000-0003-1361-8689

Personal profile

Having been the Founding Dean of UNNC and first Professor and Head of International Studies (2005-7), I am delighted to return to the University as Dean of Humanities and Social Science and Professor of Public Diplomacy.

After graduating from the University of Leeds with a BA in Political Studies and a PhD in International Relations/International Communications, I taught for 12 years in the School of Politics at the University of Nottingham. Following a two years secondment to UNNC, I then became Professor of International Communication and Head of the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds, before joining Aberystwyth University in 2013 as Professor of Public Diplomacy in the Department of International Politics. In Aberystwyth I taught modules on communications and politics in Asia, and on journalism in war and conflict. I was also the University’s Director of International Strategy which gave me the opportunity to travel regularly back to China.

I have held visiting positions in many countries and regions, and I serve as the book reviews editor of the Journal of International Communication. I am also a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Chinese Film Studies and the Advisory Board for the Journal of Public Diplomacy and a member of the editorial board for the Routledge Curzon series, Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia.

I am a  Member, Soft Power Advocacy and Research Centre, Macquarie University, and a Non-Resident Fellow of the China Policy Institute, Nottingham University. 

I serve on the editorial and advisory boards of several journals, and the book reviews editor for the Journal of International Communication and the International Journal of Taiwan Studies. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

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