19th Karlsruhe Dialogues – Speakers
1. What contribution to the quality of life and vibrancy of a city can civil society make through active citizen participation?
In an intercultural city:
• diversity is a source of vibrancy, innovation, creativity, and growth;
• diversity is the norm, and the diversity in origins and identities must be affirmed;
• public spaces, schools, homes, workplaces, and cultural forums allow people from different cultural backgrounds to meet, to exchange ideas, and to interact productively and creatively;
• public consultations, debates, and policy reflect the cultural diversity of the community; cultural conflicts are accepted and resolved, often at the local level.
A city or society should encourage associations promoting intercultural dialogue. This allows citizens of various communities to meet each other and to discuss about different topics. It is also necessary to involve citizens in decision-making. One possible way of doing so is exemplified by the Council of Foreign Residents of Strasbourg.
2. In how far do cities have a responsibility for the coexistence of cultures and the emergence of a collective identity?
Cities have a huge responsibility for the peaceful coexistence of different cultures. Every social group must be able to live in conditions of equality. To make this vision a reality, cities must develop an intercultural strategy, public spaces, institutions, and relations between communities.
Today, multiculturalism is the point of crystallisation of the major challenges of “making society”. Migration processes are part of the world more than ever; globalisation both increases and accelerates the interactions of individuals and groups from various countries and continents. The rise of new technologies and the subsequent extension of communication networks amplify these interactions.
More than ever, cultural diversity is the framework in which individuals, groups, and organisations are likely to evolve. This implies transformations for all social actors. The cultures are mixed today: individuals belong to different groups and communities at the same time. Groups of people that do not just act on instinct are able to exceed limitations and to conduct proactive measures, to develop feelings of solidarity, and to experience the usability of cultural exchange.
Interculturalism is the interaction of cultural groups – not their juxtaposition or assimilation. This is an essential point.
Intercultural dynamics flourish throughout the complex value systems that meet social, religious, cultural, political, and historical multiples. All these dimensions are relevant in our efforts and our daily agenda.
3. “If Mayors Ruled the World” (Benjamin R. Barber)… How could they solve problems due to national blockades of international politics putting them into perspective and promoting new forms of intercultural understanding?
Example: Council of Foreign Residents of Strasbourg The city of Strasbourg is rich of all nationalities. The Council of Foreign Residents participates in the economic, social, and cultural life of the city. By participating in the council, foreign residents:
• give their opinion and make proposals on policies;
• enrich the public debate on issues such as the fight against discrimination or the access to rights;
• work on the recognition of cultural diversity and contribute to living together in harmony;
• promote the right to vote for foreigners.