British and US Cultural Diplomacy and Propaganda in Iran 1953-1958

PhD Thesis, Darius Wainwright:

Having received a three-year bursary from the University of Reading, Darius Wainwright is currently undertaking his PhD project concerning cultural diplomacy, soft power, the ‘special relationship’, foreign policy, and Middle Eastern history. His thesis examines Britain and the United States’ use of cultural diplomacy and propaganda in Iran between 1953 and 1958. It identifies why British and American policymakers placed so much importance on cultural ties with Iran, how officials from both countries used these initiatives to attract Iranians to their respective ways of life and the extent to which they were successful in doing this. Darius’s research considers how Britain and the United States sought to strengthen ties with Iran at an elite and popular level. It explores how the UK Foreign Office and the US State Department forged links with their Iranian counterparts to instruct them on the production and dissemination of propaganda. The project proceeds to explore the role played by government-affiliated institutions at a non-state level in Iran. These include the British Council, the Iran-America Society and the United States Information Agency (USIA). It compares the contrasting approaches adopted by the American and British institutions. US based organisations sought to shape Iranian popular opinion, offering English language courses to students of all abilities, as well as exporting American music and Hollywood films. The British Council, in contrast, adopted a more ‘top-down’ approach, seeking to steer the thinking of Iran’s middle and upper classes.

As well as the UoR bursary, Darius also received generous financial support from the British Association of American Studies, the Royal Historical Society, the British Library’s Eccles Centre for American Studies and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, in order to conduct his research.