Prof. Neil Collins and Kristina Bekenova represented Nazarbayev University at the workshop in Malta

In February 2016, Prof. Neil Collins from the School of humanities and social sciences won the Horizon 2020 grant by the European Commission, thus, bringing Nazarbayev University for 3-year period to the team of 8 leading academic institutions from Belgium, UK, Germany, Slovenia and France to work on the research project launched on 1st March with the theme “European Leadership in Cultural, Scientific and Innovation Diplomacy” (EL-CSID).

As part of this research, academics from leading universities in Europe, Kazakhstan and Turkey met in Malta on the 28th April to review the EU’s use of “soft power” to strengthen its image abroad. Nazarbayev University was one of the main organisers of the event.

At the workshop Nazarbayev University was represented by Prof. Neil Collins and Kristina Bekenova, Research Assistant. Dr Collins together with Kristina Bekenova presented their research “EU cultural diplomacy: Diaspora Relations with Kazakhstan” during the third panel “Gone but not forgotten – role of diaspora in EU cultural diplomacy”. Based on a case study of long-established diasporas living in post-independence Kazakhstan and their relationship with their European “homelands” they offered a typology that classifies diaspora as a facilitator of interaction between states in four groups: valued, nominal, expressive and symbolic.

Professor of Political Science Neil Collins said that researchers, who have tracked the way in which Europe is portrayed abroad through the press and social media, report comparatively favourable coverage but warn against any diplomatic initiative that suggests a neo-colonial approach.

“Workshop participants gave cautious advice about linking security issues to cultural diplomacy. The role of European diasporas has also been researched with a view to seeing how these communities may be drawn more closely into the cultural and scientific life of their countries of origin,” said Professor Collins.