ICS Seminar Series - Professor Yudhishthir Raj Isar

Date: Thursday 1 May, 2014
Time: 11.30am - 1pm
Venue: EB.2.21, UWS Parramatta South campus

Professor Yudhishthir Raj Isar


Raj Isar was the principal investigator, coordinating editor and lead writer of the United Nations Creative Economy Report 2013: Widening Local Development Pathways that was recently co-published by UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Report focuses on the cultural economy at the local level in developing countries. It was commissioned in order to inform international debate on the post-2015 UN development agenda and the role of culture in sustainable development. 

Hewing to the favoured UN terminology, the Report confirms the ‘creative economy’ as a rapidly growing and transformative sector in terms of income generation, job creation and export earnings. But this is not all there is to it. For unlocking its potential also means promoting the overall creativity of societies, affirming the distinctive identity of the places where it flourishes and clusters, improving the quality of life there, enhancing local image and prestige and strengthening the resources for the imagining of diverse futures. 

Raj Isar will summarise the findings and recommendations of the Report.  He will also ask whether, as an instance of cultural policy analysis, the report meets the challenge set out by Tony Bennett in Culture: A Reformer’s Science (1998) of forging ‘effective and productive relationships with intellectual workers in policy bureaux and agencies and cultural institutions – but as well as, rather than at the expense of, other connections and, indeed, often as a means of pursuing issues arising from those other connections’?


Yudhishthir Raj Isar is an analyst, advisor and public speaker who straddles different worlds of cultural theory, experience and practice. He is Professor of Cultural Policy Studies at The American University of Paris and Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney. With Helmut Anheier, he was the founding co-editor of the Cultures and Globalization Series (SAGE), whose five volumes were published between 2007 and 2012. He has been a trustee of cultural organisations and a consultant to the European Commission, the World Bank, the Organization of American States, the European Cultural Foundation and UNESCO. From 2004 to 2008, he was President of the arts and culture advocacy platform Culture Action Europe. Earlier, at UNESCO, he was an international broker of ideas for almost three decades, notably as Executive Secretary of the World Commission on Culture and Development, Director of Cultural Policies and of the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture. In 1986-87, he was the first Executive Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was educated at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, the Sorbonne and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris.