“National cultural identity can be a fixation for small European countries because of a historical period of foreign domination or of belonging to a multi-ethnic state entity”. This is how we contextualised our 5th Intercultural Practice Exchange in Ljubljana at the beginning of the month (see below). Yet in large countries, which could be so self-confident as to acknowledge multiple heritages and diversity of identity, it can be as hard to acknowledge immigration and the need to include minorities:

At a recent seminar on “Migration and Narratives on Europe” at the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (CNHI) (in the context of the European Cultural FoundationNarratives for Europe project), I had the occasion to learn about the instructive history of the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration: Founded by a national decree in 2005 when France wanted to deal with the stigma of the xenophobic Front National having made it from the fringe into the political mainstream (into the second round of presidential elections in 2002), it was then deprived of official government inauguration when it opened its doors in 2007 because of another shift in French identity politics.

The museum’s permanent exhibition illuminates not just the experience of migrants into France over two decades, it also courageously examines the role of the state (e.g. the shift from free entry until 1913 to immigration control from 1945), the attitudes of the French public (e.g. as represented in newspaper caricatures), and the plight of modern day undocumented migrants in France. The CNHI itself was occupied by around 500 workers “Sans Papiers” from October 2010 to January 2011 in their quest for regularisation. The building which first served as an official reception hall in the International Colonial exhibition of 1931 and later became a ‘Museum of the Colonies’, has thus become the location for discourse on post-colonialism and the re-definition of the nation state.

A comparative look at the temporary exhibition “Belgium & Immigration” in Brussels’ tourist hotspot The Atomium, reveals the same political difficulties differently: Immigration here is explored by way of testimonies of immigrants and their descendants, statistics, a humorous look at the officialdom associated with entering Belgian as an immigrant, various artistic explorations of the migration and intercultural experience, some facts and figures about places of integration (school, work place, sport) and a little bit of enquiry into attitudes towards foreigners. However, the role of the Belgian state in controlling the flow of people into Belgium and the effect of immigration on Belgian identity was scarcely covered. The drama of undocumented migrants, which is also a Belgian reality, gets no mention. The most pressing realities do not always make it on the political agenda – see also our news on the 6th European Integration Forum and the forthcoming “Creative Europe” programme below.

Let’s gather some strength to continue our work for Intercultural Europe in 2012 – have a good break and best wishes for the New Year!

Feedback welcome to newsbulletin@intercultural-europe.org

Sabine Frank, Secretary General


5th Intercultural Practice Exchange

"Small European Countries Prepare for Globalisation: The Challenge of Diversity and Engagement. Case Study Slovenia" - Ljubljana, 30 November/1 December

Local projects in European perspective – this was the guiding principle for looking at a variety of problems with “hierarchies of cultures” during our 5th Intercultural Practice Exchange in the Town Hall of Ljubljana. A project on media training for young Roma prefaced a nearly all-Roma panel on Roma inclusion in Slovenia compared to elsewhere in Europe. Romani programmes on national television and on radio made by Romani journalists were highlighted as crucial to changing the majority perception of Roma. Yet critics countered that any emphasis on showing “that Roma are normal people” is a tragedy in itself – Roma should claim their right to a lifestyle different from the majority, and all media had a “duty to demonstrate discriminations”.

A project of interreligious dialogue, which was contextualised in the long conflict over the building of a mosque in Ljubljana, was presented ahead of a panel with the Mufti of Ljubljana, the winner of the competition for the mosque, and speakers from Austria and Denmark. Although most Muslims in Slovenia are European, they have been construed to represent outsiders – either associated with the Ottoman occupying force of the past or the modern ‘threat of Al Quaida’. Acts of solidarity by non-Muslims, and politicians with a vision were crucial to loosening the grip of artificial enmities on politics in this case – and will be elsewhere.

Environmental care across cultural divides and intercultural education were also topics in the rich programme. The meeting was spiced up with a public forum for which several eminent politicians – though none of the sort who “frighten voters about foreigners into voting for them” - took time out of their busy election campaign schedule. The major of Ljubljana, Zoran Jankovic, who addressed the meeting, emerged as the future Slovenian Prime Minister in the country’s general election a few days later!

Our local Partners were our member organisations Kud Pozitiv and Exodos Ljubljana.

The full report will be available on our website in the new year.

For coverage on Slovenian Television (in Slovenian and Romani).

6th European Integration Forum 

"The Involvement of Countries of Origin in the Integration Process" - Brussels, 9/10 November

The topic of this EU civil society consultative forum was based on one of three chapters of the European Agenda for Integration of Third-Country Nationals  adopted on 20 July 2011. Three subjects were treated in parallel roundtables: Pre-departure measures in support of integration; Integration in the light of circular migration and development; and Relationships between diaspora communities and countries of origin. Platform Steering Group member Tarafa Baghajati was rapporteur for the latter. He responded critically to the emerging focus on migrants as ‘transnational entrepreneurs’ – as ‘assets for growth here and there’. The primary aim of public policy in receiving countries must remain to respect migrants’ rights and include them through education and culture in economic and social life. A lot remains to be done for the inclusion of migrants and the intercultural opening of receiving societies - the engagement of ‘diasporas’ as agents of development policies must not deflect from this challenge. Neither should the plight of undocumented migrants be eclipsed.

The meeting also saw the second elections to the EIF bureau. Peter Verhaeghe from Caritas Europe was confirmed as the representative of the European NGOs in the EIF; Ayse Kosar from the Danish Council for Ethnic Minorities was elected for the national NGO members.

More information on the European Integration Forum and the meeting documents of the 6th meeting.


What future for Intercultural Dialogue in the forthcoming ‘Creative Europe’ programme? 

The EU Culture Programme 2007-2013 has “Intercultural Dialogue” as one of three specific objectives. The Platform for Intercultural Europe made research-based proposals on how to improve the implementation of this objective in the successor programme. We had recommended that the next programme “Promote cultural diversity and intercultural engagement in Europe; Support the capacity of cultural actors to enhance cultural participation and representation of people of all backgrounds and identities, including migrants and ethnic minorities; Support the capacity of cultural actors to produce intercultural experiences for diverse audiences.” However, this was not deemed to fit the redesign of the programme for the period from 2014 in the context of the EU 2020 strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth.

Support to culture will become one of three strands of a new “Creative Europe” programme – besides a media strand and a cross-sectoral strand involving a financial guarantee facility and measures to improve evidence-based policy-making. The “safeguarding and promotion of European cultural and linguistic diversity” remains a general objective of the programme, but ‘intercultural dialogue’ now only features in the context of ‘special actions to achieve greater visibility for the diversity of European cultures’ such as European Cultural Prizes, the European Heritage Label and the European Capitals of Culture. Migrant integration is not identified as an EU policy to which the programme is to be complementary.

Read the “Creative Europe” proposal.

Read the Joint Statement of the three Structured Dialogue Platforms in the field of Culture on the occasion of the third EU Culture Forum in October 2011.

The We Are More campaign demands “A programme that will support innovative cultural co-operations, and experiment with new artistic, intercultural, social and economic models.” Join the campaign!

Research on a planned pan-European 'For Diversity. Against Discrimination.' advertising campaign by the European Commission 

Do you believe in public information campaigns to raise awareness of discrimination? Do you have expertise on their design? If so, fill out the online-survey of the European Commission’s DG Justice and help it tailor its pan-European 'For Diversity. Against Discrimination.' advertising campaign, planned for 2012. The aim of the research is to shape the messages, clarify audiences, choice of media and countries; avoid overlaps with ongoing campaigns; and identify the countries where such advertising brings added value. The online survey is made of 14 questions and will not take longer than 15 minutes to complete. It is anonymous and confidential and no technical data are being collected.

Pro diversity communication strategies of European cities Council of Europe SPARDA programme 

The belief in public information campaigns as policy tools is held elsewhere: The Council of Europe is building on its 2008 White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue and its “Intercultural Cities” project with a programme to improve public attitudes to diversity. The SPARDA programme (“Shaping perceptions and attitudes to realise the diversity advantage”), ongoing until June 2012, centres on municipal communications strategies and on training of local media professionals for a fair and sufficient representation of diversity. The city of Lyon is the first to run with the baton with the campaign “Lyon dit oui à la diversité”. 

News from our Members

… this time only feature news from our freshly joined member. News from our membership as a whole will appear again in the first Newsbulletin issue of 2012. 

To see who our members are or to become a member, please go to our membership page.


Interkulturelt Centre, Denmark 

WIN - Workout for Intercultural Navigators - theatre as social interference

WIN is a programme for the training of theatre practitioners and cultural animators who recognise the capacity of their craft to “interfere” in the different cultural textures of a community in order to revitalise relationships within it. WIN comprises cyclic courses, workshops, practical interventions and experiences over a three-year period starting in January 2012. WIN is co-produced by Interkulturel Centre and Odin Teatret in Holstebro, Denmark. Contrary to traditional theatre practice to which performance is central, this programme teaches theatre as a technique, which establishes relationships with oneself, with the past and present, with space and with the community, with the Other.

The first workout “Relationship Between Text And Physical Actions" takes place on 8th January 2012.


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