I feel like a stranger in the world, especially Europe. Over the past week or two I have travelled across Europe, from east to northwest, and stayed in different places. It is turning out to be intimately familiar and disconcertingly strange.
Why? After some discussion, it seems as though these are some of the features.
Everywhere it seems as though people are obsessed about refugees and immigrants, no matter what the political persuasion. It is not merely the right-wing groups and parties who make this an issue: nearly everyone seems to feel it is the main problem facing Europe today. But if we take a Marxist approach, then the concern with migrants is a diversion, if not a symptom of the main problem: economics and class.
So let me use this lens to interpret what I see and hear:
About 3.5 billion. That is, half of the world’s population travels annually on the Beijing metro system. And within 5 years they wish to double to length of the system.
In October, I am off to one of the great places in the world: Transylvania. It is for a conference in Baia Mare, but the experience is much more than merely a conference. If you can go, go. I’ll be talking on socialist theory and practices concerning nationalities, with China as a case study.
The International Conference of Cultural Studies
“Multiculturalism and the Need for Recognition”
Baia Mare, 14-16 October, 2016
Key note speakers:
Professor Roland Boer, Newcastle University, Australia
Professor Paul Cliteur, Leiden University, The Netherlands
Professor Otoiu Adrian, Tech Univ of Cluj-Napoca, North Univ Centre of Baia Mare, Romania
Mohandas K. Gandhi once said “No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive”. This adage surely favours the ethics of multiculturalism placing the accent on the acceptance and integration of different cultures in a given society. And indeed, the basic objectives of multiculturalism have always been to assist cultural groups in retaining and fostering their identity, at the same time overcoming barriers to their full participation in society, to promote creative exchanges among all cultural groups, and to assist immigrants in coping with the inherent processes of cultural adaptation, mixing, and mélange.
In spite of all these, there are still voices which claim that multiculturalism does, in fact, undermine the main cultural identity of a state, endangering social unity and cohesion, and being a constant cause of conflict. Although there are voices which tend to emphasise the benefits of McLuhan’s “global village”, there are also pessimistic previsions which incline to the belief that the universe we now inhabit is nothing but a global dystopia in which various ethnic groups are engaged in asserting their need for recognition.
The idea that we are all in each other’s back yard is not so easily digestible. Not if we have in mind countries that see and understand the concept of nation in terms of ethnicity, placing the accent on the role of the ethnic group.
Presently there are countless voices that have expressed their reluctance and resistance against multiculturalism. The best example in this respect is the answer given by Central and Eastern Europe to the refugees’ crisis, an answer based exactly on the previously mentioned idea of the ethnic based national state.
The global pattern seems to have lost the contest, although there is still a lot of evidence which can testify to homogenization in global media, tourism and many other aspects of consumption. There is, nevertheless, plenty of evidence of the opposite, i.e. a constant, gradually increasing interest in ‘ethnic’ products and a need for recognition translated into a search for local authenticity.
Multiculturalism also makes reference to political correctness which can be easily translated into the efforts of previously marginalized groups to construct new identities, based on the questions of “Who am I?”, “What is my cultural heritage?”. The advocates of political correctness underline the necessity that the language employed in dealing with various ethnic groups be consistent with the principles of multiculturalism, thus avoiding stereotypes of all kinds, at the same time enhancing minorities’ self-esteem. However, there are voices which claim that political correctness and consequently multiculturalism threaten free speech, being contrary to reality and human nature.
In view of the already mentioned ideas, we invite scholars from all fields of research to explore issues related to the concepts of multiculturalism, globalization, glocalization, political correctness, politics of identity and their impact on our everyday life in the larger context of present day migrational movements.
The questions we invite you to answer are:
The organizers welcome papers in, yet not limited to, the following domains: science and technology, arts (literature, linguistics, theatre, visual arts, music) and sociology, politics, business and education, human rights and philosophy. The languages of the presentations might be Romanian, English, French and German.
Submit a 250-word abstract by May 1st, 2016 along with your professional details (name, title affiliation) to lect. dr. Tomoiaga Ligia (firstname.lastname@example.org) and lect. dr. Falaus Anamaria (email@example.com).
The time allotted to the presentation of a paper is 15 minutes, followed by 10-minute sessions of questions and answers.
For registration please visit our website: http://litere.cunbm.utcluj.ro/multiculturalism/
Participation fee shall be paid to the account bellow, with the note:
“International Conference of Cultural Studies”
Technical University of Cluj Napoca – North University Centre of Baia Mare
62A Victor Babes Street, 430083 Baia Mare, Maramures, Romania
Fiscal code: 3825886
Bank: Banca Comerciala Romana
IBAN: RO 21 RNCB 0182 0341 4879 0026
The peer-reviewed papers of the conference are going to be published in a Cambridge Scholars Publishing volume.
For any additional information do not hesitate to contact us:
lect. dr. Tomoiaga Ligia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
lect. dr. Falaus Anamaria (email@example.com)