Multiculturalism has failed. Time for Interculturalism.

Katarina Church and the minaret of the Stockho...

So its 2011, the supposed “Clash of Civilisation” hasn’t happened, but it still could. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness once hailed as being the only way to deal with “people different to us” is failing. The issues created when “others” moved into an area are still there. Nothing is improving and in some places cultural tensions are increasing.

There are a few reasons why multiculturalism is failing.

The fear of the “Other” still exists. We say say we aren’t racist, we may say we respect them. But neither of those statements cover up for the indirect racism or the misrepresentations we make of people from other cultures who may even live on the same street.

There is no interaction. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness have left people afraid to say things to each other out of fear of offending someone. Since when do we worry about this? If we do not mean to offend, people will know this! We no more understand people from other cultures as we did when they came to our countries as we are afraid to interact with them.

So I think German Chancellor Angela Merkel is correct. Multiculturalism has failed. Its time for a new approach. Can things be better with interculturalism?

Since getting involved with the Anna Lindh Foundation and the concept of “Intercultural Dialogue” I am more and more convinced that this is the way forward. We need not just to accept people from other cultures, we need to interact with, and I mean really interact with them. Not just going to joint events, but going to events aimed mainly at one group.

It is only this way that we will socialise with people from other cultures and move outside our comfort zone. This is the only way we can learn how to truly be accepting. Through the Anna Lindh Foundation I have learned this and the more events I attend the more I think this is true. The recent Anna Lindh Exchange Forum meeting confirmed this for me. The more we are willing to interact with people from other places and cultures the more we learn about them and they about us. It will mean we have to worry less about Political Correctness as there will be a level of understanding that will be beyond the need for this.

So its time time we stopped being understanding each other on a deeper level by being intercultural and not paying lip service as being multicultural.

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The Other Workshops [ALF Forum 2010]

Poster in scout hall
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Yesterday I posted that I was attending the Cities, Migrants and Diversity:  “Valuing Diversity, Understanding Migration” Workshop at the Anna Lindh Foundation Forum 2010, but today I have decided to tell you about the other Workshops available if you attend! It was a tough decision for me to make.

First up is Education, Intercultural Learning & Youth: “Learning to live together in diversity” This did intially appeal to me, considering my membership of Scouting Ireland, but in the end the other one stood out more. This Workshop will cover:

  • Intercultural dimension of the non-formal education in the Mediterranean context
  • Teacher trainings and other tools to deal with diversity
  • Youth policies for intercultural dialogue

It should be interesting.

Next up is Cultural & Artistic Collaborations: “Creativity for Dialogue”. Now because my interest in Art has been heightened, this one also appealed to me, but not as strongly.  This will cover:

  • Mobility as a pre-condition for intercultural dialogue and exchange
  • Networking: cultural platforms and networks
  • Translation and the challenge of understanding the other: the state of the art

The next choice is Creating Spaces of Peace and Co-existence: “Restore Trust, Rebuild Bridges”. Now this would be an interesting workshop. Now unfortunately I didn’t think I would be able to use what I would learn from it. This will cover:

  • Revitalize reconciliation processes and confidence building in conflict areas with intercultural and non-violent means
  • New patterns to deal with the social consequences of the economic crisis in multicultural contexts
  • Application of intercultural approaches for a culture of peace based on understanding, justice and respect
  • Follow-up of the ALF initiative “Restore Trust, Rebuild Bridges”

The next one is Religion, Spirituality and Values: “Inter-religious dialogue & common values for action”. This is currently an issue in Europe, and one I am interested in. How I would approach it would be difficult though. So hence why I didn’t pick it! This workshop will cover:

  • Educational professionals, civil society actors and religious leaders as active agents for the promotion of coexistence and interreligious respect
  • Spaces of encounter: dialogue and exchange between religious and secular communities
  • Developing working tools for inter-religious dialogue: trainings, mapping exercises and practices

And as a reminder the Cities, Migrants & Diversity: “Valuing Diversity, Understanding Migration” will cover:

  • – Migrations and mutual perceptions in the Mediterranean: challenging stereotypes
  • – Migrants and immigrated communities as key actors of development and intercultural action
  • – Intercultural approaches in dealing with strengthening social cohesion and solidarity in multicultural urban contexts

There are some really good chances to learn at this event. I hope to learn alot.

Don’t forget to check out the provisional programme for the Forum!

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Decisions, Decisions! [ALF Forum 2010]

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If you intend on attending the Anna Lindh Forum 2010, you must register! The deadline is fast approaching by the way. You must register by 12th February 2010, 20.00 GMT.

As part of this process you must pick which workshop you want to attend in the Agora. The choice is from:

  • Education, Intercultural Learning and Youth: “Learning to live together in diversity”
  • Cultural & Artistic Collaborations: “Creativity for Dialogue”
  • Creating Spaces of Peace and Co-existence: “Restore Trust, Rebuild Bridges”
  • Cities, Migrants and Diversity: “Valuing Diversity, Understanding Migration”
  • Religion, spirituality and values: “Inter-religious dialogue and common values for action”

It was a fairly hard decision to make for me. Considering my past work on diversity and identity, I decided to go for the Cities, Migrants and Diversity workshop.  It will be about the following:

  • Migrations and mutual perceptions in the Mediterranean: challenging stereotypes
  • Migrants and immigrated communities as key actors of development and intercultural action
  • Intercultural approaches in dealing with strengthening social cohesion and solidarity in multicultural urban contexts

It should be interesting.

Of course in the medina there will be chances to find out more things and learns loads!

That consists of

  • Intercultural Fair
  • Best Practice
  • Project Ideas
  • Self-organized sessions (network and/ or partners’ meetings)
  • Artistic Exchange

Im getting really excited about it!

By the way if you wish to attend, these are the criteria you must fill:

he participants should:

  • be a resident in one of the 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean;
  • have knowledge/experience in at least one of the fields of the Anna Lindh Foundation;
  • be strongly motivated to encourage intercultural dialogue;
  • be able to communicate in English or French;
  • pay a participation fee (Euro 30 for ALF members; Euro 100 for non-members).

More information in the info pack (pdf)

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Interculturalism in Irish Blogs and in Ireland

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On Sunday I head off to Luxembourgh to take part in the ALF Euromed Bloggers Training on Intercultural Dialogue. As part of that Programme I have to look up a bit on interculturalsim. Searching Irishblogs.ie I found a few websites dealing with the issue, but most were websites and not blogs. Only two of the blogs I found were ordinary blogs but the rest were photoblogs.

Does this mean that Interculturalism isn’t an issue in Ireland? I think it is an issue, but blogs in Ireland cover it as part of the wider issue of politics. While searching I came across posts on the Limerick Blogger, Maman Poulet and Cedar Lounge Revolution. These posts were on events and politics and put intercultual issues in context in terms of how Ireland is dealing with the issue.

While interculturalism is new in the modern Ireland, I think we have well adapted while there is some people who might not like it. A friend recently posted a view of interculturalism which most Irish People would agree with (I would hope)

love living in this country, for the most part it is a good, safe and fun place to live, and increasing diversity is making it much more interesting. I like treating myself to a shave at the hands of a barber from Istanbul, I like chatting to some Polish lads while I’m out for a drink and I like learning something about the history of Slovakia from a student on campus. The point I’m getting at is that diversity makes societies better and has done so since the dawn of man. History has shown us that it is not possible to create a completely culturally (or ethnically) hegemonic society, regardless of the physical and cultural barriers that may separate people. Even if it was possible, it should never be done. Without new ideas, new concepts and new blood societies are doomed to fall.

He has a point, and I think it is fairly normal in Ireland. Take me for example and when you look at my friends here in Ireland, they are not all Irish! I have French, Polish, Chinese and English friends!

Irish blogs deal with interculturalism in the same way that Irish society deal with it. As a day to day issue part and parcel of the normal process in Ireland. Should it be treated differently? I dont think so.

The Blogs I found on Interculturalism in Ireland (Non-photoblogs):

Thats what I found if you know of any others let me know in the comments! Thanks!

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