This chapter analyses the role of cultural policies in regional organisations. Against essentialist understandings of culture in international relations, it conceives regional organisations as diversity regimes and cultural policies as tools that help organise cultural diversity in regional organisations. More precisely, the chapter explores through comparative discourse analysis cultural policies in four regional organisations: the European Union (EU); the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR); and the Andean Community (CAN). Our findings show that nativist conceptions of culture can already appear in the early integration process, as the case of the CIS and the CAN show, but this is not a strict determinant for successful cooperation. At the other end of the spectrum, the EU and MERCOSUR stand out as examples where the early stages of the integration processes lacked a proper cultural dimension. However, in line with their diversity-management role, both regional organisations eventually attempted to stabilise cultures in order to gain domestic legitimation. In the case of the EU, from a pluralist approach and a loosely defined cultural persona, culture has become a full-fledged legal and policy area of work. Despite its young age, discourses of normalisation on democratic culture have also increasingly shaped MERCOSUR. Building on a new approach to cultural diversity in regional organisations, this chapter hopes to challenge existing understandings of cultures as bounded systems of meanings and, in doing so, to provide an alternative to Huntingtonian depictions of the world with neat cultural civilisations and inevitable clashes.

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