The panel series Iconoclash has been an enquiry into cultural and value systems connected with terrorism in the Middle East and the West. The project aims to better understand the cultural complexity and role of media in the rise of Islamic extremism, as well as the roles we all play. Extremists’ conquests of regions and cities, whereby they harm people, annihilate memory, remap geopolitics and impose apocalyptic imagery and narratives, universalizes their idea of order and submission. Their apocalyptic imagery and declamations are propagated through social media and have gained international attraction and relevance. To overcome the persisting threat requires more than military hardware. But what is actually needed to achieve lasting peace in this region of the world and with its inhabitants?
NYU Washington, DC hosted this final panel, which provided an overview of the lessons learned from over twenty years of interacting with Islamic fundamentalism. How do we bridge the gaps in trust and understanding? How do we build dialogue and cooperation on an equal level? What can the arts or other means of cultural interaction contribute to overcoming the bottleneck of dialogue? How can we successfully use social media for such ends?
This panel concluded the series Iconoclash 2015/2016, organized by EUNIC Washington DC in collaboration with the British Council and supported by the EU Delegation to the U.S.
Courtney A. Beale is Senior Director for Global Engagement National Security Council and Special Assistant to the president at the National Security Council. In that role, she oversees the U.S. government’s public diplomacy efforts to engage and influence citizens and non-state actors in support of national security goals. Beale graduated with a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Princeton University in 2013 and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in 2002. Prior to her present posting, Beale worked as the Director of the Office of Strategic Planning in the Public Affairs Bureau, served as the Public Affairs Officer for three U.S. consulates in northeast Mexico, and was the Deputy Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. She speaks Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, and U.S. government jargon.
Wilfried Eckstein has been serving as the director of the Goethe-Institut Washington DC since 2012. He has been with the Goethe-lnstitut since 1988. He worked ten years in Moscow and St. Petersburg (Russia), and served as the director of the Goethe-Institut in Bangkok (Thailand) from 2004-2008, and in Shanghai (China) from 2009-2011.
Wilfried Eckstein studied German and English literature and languages and philology, history and political science. He has been the curator of the Iconoclash series for EUNIC (the European Union Network of Institutes of Culture) Washington DC.
Ben O’Loughlin is Professor of International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London. O’Loughlin’s expertise is in the field of international political communication. He is Specialist Adviser to the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Soft Power and UK Influence. The committee aims to understand how power and influence are changing in a transformed global media and geopolitical landscape and how the UK can most effectively exercise power within that landscape. O’Loughlin joined Royal Holloway in 2006 after completing a DPhil Politics at the University of Oxford in October 2005. From 2004-2006 he was Research Associate on the Economic and Social Research Council project Shifting Securities: News Cultures Before and Beyond Iraq War 2003, for which he was based at the University of Wales Swansea and King’s College London.
Paul Smith has been Director of the British Council in the USA and Cultural Counsellor at the British Embassy Washington DC, since August 2012. He is also a member of the British Council’s Regional Management Team for The Americas.
He was born in 1956 and educated at King Edward’s School Birmingham and Queens' College Cambridge where he gained a double first in English. From 1978 to 1980 he lectured in English Literature at St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. He then pursued doctoral studies in Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University and worked as an academic supervisor for Cambridge BA honours students.
He joined the British Council in 1983 and has had postings in Kano and Lagos (Nigeria), Burma, Chile, Germany and Bangladesh and then as Director of the British Council in New Zealand, in West India (Mumbai). From 2005-2010 he was Director of the British Council in Egypt and from 2010 – 2012 Director of the British Council in Afghanistan and Cultural Counsellor at the British Embassy in Kabul. In the UK he has held the posts of Director Drama and Dance (1987-1989) and Director Arts (1999-2000).
He was awarded the OBE in 1999.
Paul is married to Viveka Kumari. They have three children aged 26, 17 and 15. His interests include history, international cultural relations and all the arts especially drama. He has directed plays, particularly Shakespeare, in various countries and has published numerous articles in academic texts.