EASA, 2008: EASA08: Experiencing diversity and mutuality

Ljubljana, 26/08/2008 – 29/08/2008


Sustainable cultural diversities in Europe

Location 0.3
Date and Start Time 28 Aug, 2008 at 11:00


László Kürti (University of Miskolc) email
Alexandra Bitusikova (Matej Bel University, Banska Bystrica) email
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Short Abstract

Our objective is to gain an understanding of sustainable cultural diversity not only in 'Western' settings but also in places that until recently have had no experience with everyday 'otherness'.

Long Abstract

Our objective is based on the Sustainable Development in a Diverse World Network of Excellence funded by the EU. Thus far diversity has gained attention mainly in 'Western' societies, but gradually we can observe the growth of diversity, multiculturalism or interculturalism also in places that until recently have had no experience with everyday 'otherness', such as post-socialist countries, Scandinavia, Switzerland, the Balkans or new EU Member States. The current economic, cultural, political and social discourses acknowledge diversity, both as a source of conflict and multiculturality, but they also legitimate it as a possible positive value of contemporary societies. There is an increased need to design policies that can govern diversity in a dynamic way leading to artistic creativity, growth and sustainable development. We want to address the issue of cultural diversity and sustainable development in urban settings where diversities are most present and evident. We aim at bringing diversity perspectives from all European regions by inviting proposals that look at aspects of diversity, ie both as an engine for development and as a challenge to established/majority ways of life. Case studies investigating how diversity is understood and managed leading to dynamic developments are especially welcome.


Comparison of open/heterogeneous - closed/homogeneous local systems in dealing with diversity: London

Author: Rossella Lo Conte (University College, London)  email
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Long Abstract

Bow and Battersea are two inner-London areass which were identified by previous research as two different ideal types of local systems in dealing with diversity: Bow as being closed/homogeneous and Battersea as being open/heterogeneous. Diversity-Indicators were also defined. The two areas manage resources and organise access to such resources differently, defining a local according to ethnic group or to the degree the person 'fits with us', in contrast to 'them'. London, as all large cities, offers many groups to belong to and many others from which being excluded, identification in THIS and differentiation from THAT is a very complex but interesting process when considered in a urban setting where there are just more boundaries. The focus of this research has been to investigate whether the distinction of 'open : closed' still holds today and whether the current situation could have been predicted from any of the initial indicators. Official 2001 Census Statistics accompany findings from informal household interviews conducted to people of different age, gender and ethnic background, living in the areas. Longstanding and new residents' perceptions about changes are also explored looking at their livelihood options in the neighbourhood. Battersea is not as open as it used to be and Bow is not as closed. Some features have changed and more options have become available. We believe that diversity is beneficial for both hosting people and newcomers. Results are hoped to have an impact on people working on local planning and policy areas.

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Differences among European students in motivation to learn: a cross-cultural study

Author: Janez Kolenc (Educational Research Institute)  email
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Long Abstract

Because of the impact of motivation on educational outcomes, student motivation in schools has become a major field in educational research. Different goals can have dramatic impacts on achievement outcomes. In our study, we try to reject a stereotype, that competition is not a desired personal characteristic and specific motivational factor. Therefore, the principal hypothesis is, that if motivation to learn and competition are investigated in a context of self-concept, also positive dimensions as well as correlations with self-concept and motivation to learn areas could appear. As a consequence, a new model of self-concept, based on different kinds of competition and motivation to learn, could be postulated. It could also be assumed that this model might differ from culture to culture. Therefore, the participants from three countries participated in the study. Countries were chosen on the basis of political and cultural indicators in Eastern/Southern versus Western/Southern European changes: Slovenia, Serbia and Monte Negro and Spain.

Politics of identity: Saxon-ness without Saxons in a Transylvanian town

Author: Monica Stroe (National University of Political Studies and Public Administration Bucharest)  email
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Long Abstract

The paper is an attempt to reveal the identity-building strategies used in the case of the Romanian city of Sibiu to support the title of European Capital of Culture awarded in 2007. The city was founded as a fortress founded by German settlers (Saxons) in the twelfth century and was widely known throughout medieval times by its German name, Hermannstadt. It preserved a multiethnic component until the last decades of the communist era, when the German population radically decreased down to 1.6% of the population at present.

I am applying Rogers Brubaker's framework of 'ethnicity without groups' to study how Saxon ethnicity is reduced to a set of practices (patrimonialization, staging and performance) in the quasi-absence of a Saxon population in the city. The focus is on how Saxon-ness is instrumentalized by ethno-political entrepreneurs and acquires the role of a cultural idiom translated into a discursive frame. The research on the organization of the European Capital of Culture reveals a narrative domination of the Saxon-ness when it comes to staging identity and building the city's brand. Communicating ethnicity becomes a political stake with both economic and symbolic dimensions. Why is Saxon-ness the successful city branding strategy considering the local, national and European context? To find the answer to this question, the research focuses on official discourse, patrimonial policies and cultural program.

Sustainable cultural diversity and mutuality: the case of Slovenia

Author: Zvezda Delak Kozelj (Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia)  email
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Long Abstract

Changed social conditions, particularly the new constitutional role of property, the development of ethnology, new protection tasks - also in the sense of integral conservation - and new meanings of cultural heritage dictate the need for additional professional obligations of ethnologists/conservators and their future strategy.

These new elements and changes demand a critical approach, careful consideration and definition of the role of ethnology in the integral conservation of cultural heritage diversity and its expansion in the planning of sustainable development that integrates all aspects of the life and phenomena of culture, as well as physical planning. The lack of complex ethnological research and syntheses, complete with evaluation and efficient incorporation at all levels of protection procedures as well as spatial and developmental planning, results in threatened regional and local identities that are subject of protection endeavours.

Ethnologists must take advantage of the increased interest in cultural identity and find suitable answers to where, why (with justification) and how a certain cultural element, and not only selected examples of cultural heritage, should be protected.

Preservation as a sustainable, cyclical process should be a mutual decision and obligation of the proprietors and experts, as well as all other stakeholders (the state, local authorities, ministries, non-government organisations, enthusiasts, etc.). The selected cultural phenomena should be presented with the help of diverse, tried and tested, recognised or innovative solutions as possible development potentials to planners at all levels, both vertical and horizontal.

Towards sustainable diversity in the city of Bratislava

Authors: Alexandra Bitusikova (Matej Bel University, Banska Bystrica)  email
Daniel Luther (Slovak Academy of Sciences)  email
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Long Abstract

The paper deals with questions of sustainable social and cultural diversity in the city of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. It compares two historic periods of state socialism and post-socialism and is based on the hypothesis that urban life differed significantly in the two periods and was influenced by two dominant features: politically forced order, discipline and uniformity leading to homogeneity in the period of the communist rule; and "freedom" and individualism following the collapse of the totalitarian rule in the first period of post-socialist transition, connected with uncertainty, chaos and growth of heterogeneity and diversity in all spheres of life. Transformation of the society went along with two competitive processes - globalism and localism that have also had an impact on the new diversified look of the city.

The case study of the city of Bratislava focuses on two selected indicators relevant to sustainable diversity in the post-socialist city that showed dramatic changes in the last decade: urban public space and civic participation in the governance of the city. The study does not focus on urban populations´s diversity in the sense of ethnic, racial or religious diversity of immigrant groups because the scale of this diversity is still not large enough to make a broader analysis about it. The main attention is put on elements related to broader diversity that includes various social, cultural or marginalised groups of population and changing strategies, practices, mechanisms, values and attitudes in a transition society. The analysis is built on mostly qualitative data collected from the city council documents, local newspapers, reports of governmental and non-governmental organisations and a long-term ethnographic research based on participant observation and interviews.

We and others in process of migration

Author: Alena Parizkova (University of West Bohemia)  email
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Long Abstract

The paper is based on the social anthropological research on labour migration from the Czech Republic to foreign countries from the view of the persons involved. These migrants leave quite homogenous society and many of them encounter the multicultural societies of the west cities. For many of them it is new experience which they had to solve. To orient themselves in the situation they create different categories based on language and country of origin. There are two strong categories - we and others. Use of these categories can lead to formation of stereotypes which influence social interaction. Both categories can have from different migrants different content. Respondents of my research defined very often the category - the others - like the other migrants, especially they mentioned the migrants from Poland. In many places it was the biggest group of other migrants they met in process of migration. I examine how these categories influence the experiences and valuation of migration experience. The set of information has been gathered through semi-structured interviews. The emphasis was given on the narrations of migrants experiences and evaluation.