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Intellectuals and Cultural Policy

Staff at the Centre have developed particular interests in the relations between influential intellectual figures and the development of cultural policy across the world.

The starting point for this was a conference organised by Jeremy Ahearne and Oliver Bennett on September 23-25 2005 at Coombe Abbey, near Coventry. While much had been written on the history both of intellectuals and cultural policy, we noted that relatively little work had been done on the specific relations between intellectuals and processes of cultural policy formation. In order to explore this topic, we gathered together an international group of scholars on cultural and intellectual history across a number of historical periods and national contexts (Britain, Germany, France, Holland, USA, Canada, Russia, Hungary, Poland). In particular, the conference aimed to examine the extent to which different national contexts had given rise to different conceptions, problematics and programmes.

The proceedings of the conference were published as a double special issue of the International Journal of Cultural Policy (vol 12, nos 2 & 3, 2006) and as a special issue book (Intellectuals and Cultural Policy, ed. Ahearne and Bennett, 2007).

Since the conference, Jeremy Ahearne has gone on to produce the first single-authored monograph on the topic, taking as his terrain for investigation the relations between intellectuals and cultural policy formation in modern France (Ahearne, Intellectuals, Culture and Public Policy in France: Approaches from the Left, Liverpool University Press, 2010). He takes a wide understanding of cultural policy (comprising policy for arts, television, education, secularization) and studies a series of major thinkers (Pierre Bourdieu, Michel de Certeau, André Malraux, Régis Debray, Edgar Morin).

Oliver Bennett and Eleonora Belfiore have also explored the often neglected long-term intellectual underpinnings for arts policy discourses in their book, The Social Impact of the Arts: An Intellectual History, Palgrave/MacMillan, 2008 (see

We remain at the Centre very much interested in the relations between intellectuals and cultural policy across the world, and would be very happy to oversee further research in the area.