The Republic of the Marshall Islands established a consulate in Springdale, Arkansas, in 2009, where about 10 percent of the Marshallese global population resides. Consul-General Carmen Chong-Gum has advanced her notion of “cultural diplomacy,” or outreach efforts to the resident communities through Marshallese cultural productions. In this essay, I detail the role of expressive culture in two recent instances of Marshallese cultural diplomacy in northwest Arkansas to share how the diasporic community has created a unique politics of representation in Middle America. Outlining historical contingencies that animate contemporary cultural exchanges between Marshallese and Americans, I extend and expand Chong-Gum’s definition of cultural diplomacy to show its roots in US Cold War cultural diplomatic efforts in the Pacific often discounted from historical records and its importance within the Marshallese community to invest in their place of residence by welcoming others into their culture while maintaining a palpable sense of distance.


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pp. 781-812
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