JEF Seminar on Intercultural Dialogue in Barcelona (part 2)


Barcelona, Spain

23-29 November 2009

> following from part 1


· No barriers inside, new barriers outside.


Looking for the perfect integration (not assimilation) of the multiple European cultures, the risk of missing the real meaning of integration is great.


I think that Italy could be an example of this statement: it was built collecting all the states of the Italian peninsula, which had different languages, which we now call dialects, but they used to be a real obstacle to the social unity of the country. The habits of the Italian citizens were also different from one region to the other, in particular from north to south. As we know there were huge problems of integration when people from south Italy migrated to the industrial cities of the north, because a real cultural clash took place. The point here is that the Italians concentrated so much on the integration of their different cultures and habits that after having reached the social unity they’re not able to open to other cultures, this time from outside Italy, any more. I proposed this example to explain what is the real meaning of the concept of intercultural society for the people who participated to the seminar: a society in which every difference is accepted, given that we finally understand that the differences enrich our way of thinking, both from an individual and from the society point of view. In a intercultural society everyone knows that everyone shares some common values, while religion or habits do not necessarily have to be the same for everybody, but everybody accepts them.


Therefore we, as Europeans, shouldn’t concentrate too much on our internal ”dialogue” leaving apart all the external calls for joining this precious interculturalism.


· Human rights: which rights?


This was a thorny point. The reality is that while trying to define which are the few really fundamental rights we understood that apparently there aren’t: in fact if we want to include all the cultures of the world, or at least most of them, we understand that the human rights as we know them are the result of a Western point of view and even in that case they have become relative. The right to live fights with the right to die, the concept of life is ambiguous because we should identify the precise moment in which you can call an embryo a human being and the right to be conceived is not a right in countries, like China, where the population is growing too fast. Therefore which rights are fundamental? And if we can’t define some basic rights which are acceptable for every society of the world, how could we manage to have an efficient intercultural dialogue?


We didn’t find any answer to these questions but we left with the hope that in the future we will be able to find an acceptable solution to this problem, while, for the moment, we trust in the values and rights written in the UN Declaration of the Human Rights and in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.


· Looking for a European culture.


At the beginning of the talks about cultures and identities we tried to find a meaning for these two concepts, which are ambiguous and most of the times are used to build up walls between people but don’t have a real consistency. Culture is what makes us identify in a community in which we feel at home, because we share its habits and its language. This implies that a culture is not necessarily confined in the borders of a nation-state, rather that we can belong to different cultures. Thus the concept of ”culture” has a variable definition. Concerning the identity we all agreed on the fact that it is individual, therefore impossible to define.


This definition imposes a question though: if the culture is something relative and also the human rights are relative, how could we define a ”European culture”? We agreed on the fact that the European culture has to be built by the Europeans step by step and that, as Europeans, we all share some basic values which make us all similar when we are together, even though we are so different when you look at us individually, because everyone is unique.


After all we don’t need to create a static concept of ”European culture” because our culture, as everything else concerning the European integration, is atypical!



Roberta Carbone

JEF Italy, Torino



> If you want to download this article in pdf click here!

> If you want to know something more about the Young European Federalist (JEF Europe) click here!

> If you want to know something more about the Gioventù Federalista Europea (JEF Italy) click here!

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