THE INTERCULTURAL CITIES CONFERENCE COMEDIA in association with EUCLID is organising a major conference to mark the Europe...
intercultural approach aims to facilitate dialogue, exchange and reciprocal understandingbetween people of different cultu...
TIMETABLE    1. Launch of the project (November 2004)    2. An overview of relevant published literature, including academ...
aspects     of      its   legacy   of    tolerance,     new     ideas     are    badly     needed.Interculturalism, in whi...
leads them to innovate. Each builds on the social, economic and cultural strengths of theiroriginal community, but then de...
outwardly display any signs of ethnic tension or antipathy, a passive state of ‘benignindifference’ is currently the UK de...
Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the EUis committed to developing a new and more act...
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The intercultural cities conference

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The intercultural cities conference

  1. 1. THE INTERCULTURAL CITIES CONFERENCE COMEDIA in association with EUCLID is organising a major conference to mark the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008. During the three days, leading speakers from across Europe, UK Cities, as well the US, Canada and Australia will provide real examples of how being intercultural works, bringing social, cultural and economic advantages. They include globalization guru Saskia Sassen, New York Times writer Gregg Zachary who argues cities and business must ‘mongrelize or die’, the world authority on cultural diversity and city planning Leonie Sandercock, Lord Bhikhu Parekh who says it is time to rethink multiculturalism and Keith Khan, Head of Culture for the 2012 Olympic Games. There will also be great opportunities to explore the city of Liverpool, the 2008 European Capital of Culture.AIMS  The project will consider the extent to which cultural diversity is a source of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship and how this can become a positive force releasing new energy and resources for the development of cities.  It seeks to understand how the combination of different cultural skills and attributes leads to new and divergent thinking and what are the conditions that most encourage this.  It will explore the extent to which increased intercultural dialogue, exchange and activity is the catalyst for this process.  It will particularly seek to understand the role of intercultural networks and intermediary change-agents, finding out who they are, how they work and what are the conditions which either encourage or hinder them.  It will explore the institutional barriers and opportunities to maximizing economic benefits and aim to provide guidance for future policy on diversity and wealth creation in cities.PRINCIPLESThe terms multiculturalism and interculturalism are often used interchangeably, but the wayin which they are used in this proposal makes clear that they are two quite differentapproaches to managing and building on the potential of ethnic and cultural diversity in a city.The intercultural approach goes beyond equal opportunities and respect for existing culturaldifferences, to the pluralist transformation of public space, civic culture and institutions. So itdoes not recognize cultural boundaries as fixed but as in a state of flux and remaking. An
  2. 2. intercultural approach aims to facilitate dialogue, exchange and reciprocal understandingbetween people of different cultural backgrounds. Advocates of this approach argue that citiesneed to develop policies which prioritize funding for projects where different cultures intersect,contaminate each other and hybridize. This contrasts with the multiculturalism model, wherefunding is directed within the well-defined boundaries of recognized cultural communities. Inother words, city governments should promote cross-fertilization across all culturalboundaries, between majority and minorities, dominant and sub cultures, localities,classes, faiths, disciplines and genres, as the source of cultural, social, political and economicinnovation.OUTCOMESThe project will provide answers to the questions such as:  How do new ideas and innovations emerge when people of diverse cultures interact?  How are these formed into new products, services, styles and ways of doing things and how do these then spread?  What kinds of individuals, groups, networks and background conditions help to make this happen more frequently?It will provide policy makers in city development, business, and innovation management withevidence and a toolkit of techniques with which encourage greater intercultural innovation.It will also highlight the practices and conditions which are like to act as a disincentive tointercultural innovation.The deliverables of the project will include:  Bespoke case studies and a final report with locally-specific recommendations on each city within the project  Reports of thematic studies on key cross-cutting issues by experts in the respective fields  A detailed final report that aggregates the findings of all the city and thematic studies with practical recommendations for policy-makers  A knowledge network enabling practitioners in all the participating cities to exchange experiences  A closing international conference to launch the project findings and to trigger further research in the subjectMETHODOLOGYThe project will employ a range of approaches in recognition of the multi-dimensional natureof the subject, including:  Analysis of secondary data on demographics, economics, labor market, migration, and innovation at national and regional levels  Semi-structured interviews with key individuals  Case studies of key intercultural actors employing a life history approach, based on in-depth interviews, highlighting key influences in a persons education and employment trajectory.  Mapping of networks  Focus groups with network members
  3. 3. TIMETABLE 1. Launch of the project (November 2004) 2. An overview of relevant published literature, including academic sources and policy reports (December 2004) 3. Exploration and identification of networks and relationships (January 2005) 4. Selection of the case-studies on intercultural actors (February 2005) 5. Interviews, workshops, focus groups and participant observation (March – April 2005) 6. Writing up of interim conclusions report and first policy workshop (May 2005) 7. Comparative analysis of all city case studies (June-August 2005) 8. Second policy workshop. Writing up of city case studies final report and recommendations (September 2005) 9. Writing up of city case studies final report and recommendations (October-December 2005) 10. Completion of final report for the overall project (January 2006) 11. Launch of Intercultural City report and international conference (March 2006)THEMESFrom Multicultural to InterculturalThe intercultural lensIntercultural innovatorsThe need for new indicatorsThe project is exploring the connections between cultural diversity, innovation and thriving andprosperous urban communities, in the context of the economic, social and cultural dynamics ofcities in the UK and around the world. In identifying theses connections, strategies to harnessthe potential of diverse communities and their innovation have been developed so as toprovide tools for policymakers, planners and practitioners. The project went further by assistingparticipating cities to develop specific economic, social, cultural and planning policies andthereby become role models for others to follow.From Multicultural to InterculturalIn the UK, Canada, Australia and several European countries, multiculturalism has been thepolicy orthodoxy within which legislation and values concerning diversity have been framed.Multiculturalism sought to protect and celebrate diversity with minority languages, religions andcultural practices encouraged and rights and freedoms enshrined in legislation. Recently thisapproach has been called into question and, particularly in the UK, it is argued that it hasencouraged the creation of culturally and spatially-distinct communities leading ‘parallel lives’with the maintenance of difference becoming the very currency by which status is gained andresources allocated. It has increasingly been seen as outmoded and so, in order to protect
  4. 4. aspects of its legacy of tolerance, new ideas are badly needed.Interculturalism, in which the emphasis is on interaction and the exchange of ideas betweendifferent cultural groups, is the way out of this impasse. It goes beyond equal opportunities andrespect for existing cultural differences to the pluralist transformation of public space,institutions and civic culture. It is also distinct from the current arguments made for integrationand community cohesion in arguing a much more proactive engagement between cultures,including a preparedness to see conflict not only as an inevitable but a creative process. Thisimplies mutual learning and joint growth and a process of acquiring, not only a set of basicfacts and concepts about ‘the other’, but particular skills and competences which will enableone to interact functionally with anyone different from oneself regardless of their origins. Thisthen implies the acquisition of an intercultural competence which, in a diverse society,becomes an important ability.The intercultural lensCities can become more intercultural by taking a fresh look at what they do. This requirescultural literacy, the capacity to acquire, interpret and apply knowledge about cultures.Our behavior and thought is informed by our culture, be this ethnic, organizational orprofessional. It therefore rests with the urban professions to interrogate their own assumptionsand expectations as well as those of the community they are working with, all the timeunderstanding that communication takes place within a context of cultural filters through whichthings are interpreted and understood. This entails engagement by any professional with acommunity exploring its history, cultural institutions and current cultural values, through itsforms of artistic expression, skills, crafts, media of communication, oral history and memory.The process of engagement can thus become as much an experience of community bondingas a research tool.We have subjected six aspects of local activity to re-evaluation through an intercultural lens:• Public consultation and engagement• Urban planning and development• Business and entrepreneurship• Schools and education• The arts and creative industries• SportThe orthodox, multiculturalist, approach to public consultation assumes communities aredefined by their ethnicity and consulted in isolation (i.e. ‘the African Caribbean community’, ‘theAsian community’, etc.) as if ethnicity is the only factor influencing the way in which people willlead their lives in the city. Identity, however, is far more complex. If more communityengagement were conducted in ‘intercultural spaces’ and based on the premise of diversegroups attempting to address common issues of mutual interest then a great level of cross-cultural understanding and empathy would be achieved.Or take city-making. Are the basic building blocks of the city the same when looked at throughintercultural eyes? Think of street frontages, building heights, set backs, pavement widths,turning circles, the amount of windows and their size, materials, light, colour, water. Shouldarchitects and planners structure space to reflect different cultures as they might see and usespaces in varied ways? Or should open-ended spaces be created that others can adapt to? Ina survey of residents in Lewisham and Bristol to identify popular intercultural spaces, theplaces mentioned with most frequency were not the highly designed or engineered public andcorporate spaces but rather the mundane spaces of day-to-day exchange that peoplehighlight, such as libraries, schools, colleges, youth centers, sports clubs, specific cinemas, thehair salon, the hospital, markets and community centers.We have also considered entrepreneurs from different cultures to understand the specificallyintercultural context of their success and found that the state of individual ‘in-betweenness’
  5. 5. leads them to innovate. Each builds on the social, economic and cultural strengths of theiroriginal community, but then departs from it and creates something that at times is alien, or inconflict with their own community. However, it is precisely this tension and this need to breakwith tradition that gives them strength and the impetus to expand into new ventures.We have found that schools are fundamental to building an interculturally competent society.Creative pursuits such as drama, media and conflict resolution proved to be strong themesaround which to build cultural literacy. Like education, sport and the arts can provide foci forintercultural engagement. Shared spaces in the arts can be created which are new to allcultures while team sports provide great potential for increased interaction betweencommunities.Go to THEMATIC STUDIES pageIntercultural innovatorsA catalytic individual or group will often form the core of an intercultural initiative. Our study ofthirty-three such people in six English cities identified common characteristics. They fell intothree broad types: artists and animateurs, those involved in community development includinglocal politicians, and entrepreneurs. They found it easier than most to cross culturalboundaries, drawing upon elements from different cultures. The consequence was that theywere adept at seeing their own culture as either relative or composite, and at valuing thedifferent ways of seeing and doing things in the other cultures. This openness gives them aheightened propensity to select and absorb elements of other cultures and producing newways of thinking, seeing, imagining and creating.Many of these intercultural innovators, especially those of mixed race, often reporteddifficulties relating to racism and rejection growing up, but this seemed to have translated intoheightened motivation and resilience. Unorthodox educations were also common, while socialand cultural capital was often built outside formal settings. They often described themselves asoutsiders, mavericks, rebels and on the margins.Cities can nurture intercultural innovation by recognising diversity and drawing on the skillsand aptitudes therein. They also need to eliminate racism and institutional lethargy and providefavourable funding and resource conditions. Innovators can be awkward, so cities cannot shyaway from difficult-to-resolve issues.DOWNLOAD SUMMARY REPORTThe need for new indicatorsCurrently available data can describe the ethnic make-up of a community but little of theirdegree of interaction or co-operation. Our study presents an isolation index of 78 Englishborough which is a quantitative measure of the likelihood of a person living next door tosomeone from a different background. However, further indicators are clearly needed toanswer questions of how easily and frequently different ethnicities mix, how open a city is interms of the institutional framework, business, civil society and public space, and extent ofintercultural co-operation and collaboration.These questions can be at least partially answered by measures of, for example,intermarriage, multilingualism and crossover networks, whilst documentary indicators, such asthe existence of a Cultural Diversity or Intercultural strategy, are telling.To explore openness and interculturalism at an urban level, and test the assumptions of theindicators they devised, we undertook a case study in Bristol, interviewing active or prominentpeople from a wide social spectrum. Among the findings were that among younger people,especially second and third generation immigrants, day-to-day involvements from work to playmitigate against segregation. Also, the creative industries and arts sectors are significantarenas where mixing occurs. The main conclusion, however, is that even though a city may not
  6. 6. outwardly display any signs of ethnic tension or antipathy, a passive state of ‘benignindifference’ is currently the UK default position and this is neither sufficient nor desirable ifsociety is to make the most of diversity.Further work on developing practical indicators of openness and intercultural engagement willbe one of the major strands of the projects over the next year. Cooperation, Mobility and Cultural Policies The dynamics of trans-national mobility have led to fundamental changes in the way governments address cultural cooperation in general and exchanges between artists and other cultural professionals in particular. Policy strategies, legislative frameworks and programmes or schemes to support mobility are being revised and new priorities are being set which link culture to other fields such as tourism, urban regeneration or economic development through the cultural industries. International cultural cooperation The updated Compendium country profiles provide more detailed information on how national governments and other actors are pursuing international cultural cooperation programs and strategies. They report on: main structures and trends; public actors and cultural diplomacy; European / international actors and programmes; direct professional co-operation; cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation and other relevant developments. A comparative overview of national government approaches to international cultural cooperation is available under "Tables". Mobility of artists and other cultural professionals Related information on support for the mobility of artists and cultural professionals is available from the external site Mobility Matters. It provides country specific information and case studies on mobility programmes and schemes in 35 European countries. Under the first set of objectives, the Union and all other relevant stakeholders should work together to foster intercultural dialogue to ensure that the EU’s cultural diversity is understood, respected and promoted. To do that, they should for example seek to enhance the cross-border mobility of artists and workers in the cultural sector and the cross-border dissemination of works of art. The second set of objectives focuses on the promotion of culture as a catalyst for creativity in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs and its follow-up "EU 2020". Cultural industries are an asset for Europes economy and competitiveness. Creativity generates both social and technological innovation and stimulates growth and jobs in the EU. Promotion of culture as a vital element in the Unions international relations is the third set of objectives. As a party to the UNESCO Convention on the
  7. 7. Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the EUis committed to developing a new and more active cultural role for Europe ininternational relations and to integrating the cultural dimension as a vitalelement in Europe’s dealings with partner countries and regions.Multi-level dialogue and partnershipIn order to implement these three sets of objectives, new working methodsand partnerships have been launched.The Commission now engages in a structured dialogue with the culturesector in order to identify and better understand the full range of stakeholdersinvolved in European cultural co-operation. In this framework, the variousstakeholders in the field of culture – professional organisations, culturalinstitutions, non-governmental organisations, European networks,foundations, etc. – discuss issues among themselves and engage in dialoguewith EU institutions and Member States to support the development of newpolicies.For Member States, implementing the Agenda for Culture entails taking theircooperation one step further by using the open method of coordination. Fourthematic working groups of experts nominated by Member States areformulating policy recommendations based on exchange of best practice andmaking proposals for cooperation initiatives.Mainstreaming culture in all relevant policiesThe Lisbon Treaty (Article 167, paragraph 4; formerly EU Treaty Article 151)requires the Union to take culture into account in all its actions so as to fosterintercultural respect and promote diversity. The Commission works to ensurethat the promotion of culture and cultural diversity is given due considerationwhen all regulatory and financial decisions or proposals are made.

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