Interview with Dr. Katherine Marshall; Senior Adviser for the World Bank, Visiting Professor Georgetown University
07.02.10 Interview conducted by Katherine Hathaway
You are a core member of the Council of 100. How do you combat ignorance and a lack of concern about the need for each side to understand each other?
That’s a very good question. There is a huge amount of misunderstanding. In fact, I think you can say that most problems come from not only ignorance, but also from simply seeing the world in different ways and the inability to put yourself in the shoes of another person or another community or society. That’s a classic case with the issues regarding Islam. It's quite interesting that one of the main findings that comes out of polls of Muslims across many different social societies is the sense that there is lack of respect for them and for their culture. This is ironically confirmed by what people say in the non-Muslim world, that they have many doubts and many questions.
What role does religion have to play in Cultural Diplomacy? Do you see it as having a more destructive or constructive capacity for building bridges and creating positive cultural ties?
Religion can be a huge force for good and it can be a huge force for harm. It's also enormously diverse. It involves a very large majority of the world's population. It's every imaginable kind of tradition and community, so in one sense lumping religion together gets you in trouble. To me, it's deeply linked to the question of what is cultural diplomacy. I cannot imagine thinking about cultural diplomacy without engaging in the question of where religion fits in and how it comes into the picture.