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sexta-feira, 22 de abril de 2016

Conference: Can culture help to overcome the fragmentation of society?

When PAN – Intercultural Arts was asked why a theatre residency at the “Jungle”, the refugee camp in Calais, they answered “Because, of course, finding a roof and a bowl of food is not all humans need in times of trauma and distress. They need a place to imagine, dream, reflect and exercise that most human of qualities – creativity."

I work in the cultural field because I believe in Culture’s strong and meaningful impact in people’s lives, in our human, intellectual, emotional development. The association I am involved in, Access Culture, acknowledges Culture’s power and impact and works towards the elimination of barriers to culture - physical, social and intellectual – helping to guarantee that every person may have the opportunity to enjoy culture and to create, no matter where they come from and what their specific capacities are.

Today, in Europe, we’re dealing with xenophobia and racism. Above all, though, we are dealing with fear. Fear is an instict, fear is our animal side. It makes us see a threat in the existence of other people, different people. It makes us see them as a group (a threatening group) and stops us from recognizing the humanity of each individual.

Our Culture can help us overcome the fear and see the humanity of others. It can challenge our preconceptions, prejudices and stereotypes; it can create places of encounter, where we can get to know the ‘other’, as an individual, as another human being; it can help us find common ground.

Right after the Brussels attacks, it was expected that the mood against Muslims and the refugees would grow stronger. We knew it, the refugees knew it. This image was for me a confirmation of our misunderstandings. (Andrej Isakovic / AFP / Getty Images)

Just a couple of recent examples:

The You.Th.i Festival – Youth, Theatre, Interculturalism took place in Athens on the 10 of April. It was a one-day celebration of theatre, creativity and tolerance towards diversity. It brought together Greek amateur teenage actors and adult immigrant amateur actors who live and work in Athens.

Museumsin Berlin have been organizing tours in Arabic, guided by Syrian refugees, who welcome newly arrived refugees in their native languages. This project, called Multaka, or “meeting point” in Arabic, aims to help integrate the newcomers. But it also reminds them that Germany is a country that had to be rebuilt after the second world war and gives them hope for rebuilding their own country someday. 

There are two key points I would like to bring up for discussion:

There’s a long distance between culture as theory and culture as practice. By “culture as theory” I mean the individual accumulation of intellectual and affective wealth, that is not necessarily put into practice. By “culture in practice” I mean actually using the wealth accumulated in our everyday life: in the way we treat and raise our children; in the way we deal with our neighbors; in the way we do our job, whether we are artists or cultural managers, teachers, judges, police officers or politicians. In the way we behave, make decisions and act in society, we give a sign of what our culture is. So, when our politicians sign agreements that violate human rights; when we attack refugees at our borders; when we close our borders to those refugees, then these are signs of our culture. A European culture that we like to think it conveys respect for human dignity, democracy, equality, respect for human rights. So when our decisions and actions ignore these fundamental European values, I would say that if such a thing as a “clash of civilizations” exists, then it’s not about ‘us’ and ‘them’, it’s here, it’s among us. And we all want to be proud of our European Culture.

The second point I would like to make is that culture is not a panacea, it doesn’t do miracles. In the UN Summit on Sustainable Development that took place in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, it was suggested that Culture is the fourth pillar together with the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development. Thus, should we truly wish to work for peace and justice in the world, for respect, diversity and intercultural dialogue, then we need to consider solutions based on all four pillars. We need to work together with others sectors and make sure we can help create the conditions for a sustainable future where fear will not stop people from practicing their culture. That way we can really help people feel strong, safe and capable and put their talents and capacities at the service of the common good. Against fear.

Short intervention in the panel "Can culture help to overcome the fragmentation of society?" at the European Culture Forum, Brussels, 
Posted Yesterday by Maria Vlachou

Fonte: @edisonmariotti #edisonmariotti

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