How to catch a cultural cold

April 12, 1996

I am interested that the director of the British Council in Dubai believes he is fighting a "battle" against the United States for a "market" there, and that he hopes to be more "aggressive in fighting it" (THES, April 5). According to the article, markets and promotion are the chief concerns of the British Council, and an educational fair "is an effective weapon in the struggle against US supremacy". This must be a misrepresentation of the aims and methods of the British Council. The council is normally understood to be concerned with cultural exchange.

If the council concentrates on "aggressive" marketing and battles against other countries, it will soon be excluded from the processes of genuine cultural exchange. Moreover, it might well be asked why the council needs to be supported by public funds at all, if it is just a marketing organisation of this kind.

George Hughes Faculty of Letters, Tokyo University

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