2017

Estimated results

 

Territoriality of cultures as a work hypotesis. The test of the hypothesis. Analysis of the phenomenon of deterritorialization. The normative relevance of the cultural identity

 

Disemination of the results

 

Participation in international conferences

Publishing of articles in BDI indexed journals

Mobilty stages of documentation

Organizing an international conference

Publishing a collective volume

 

 

Delivered results

 

  • 9 presentations at international conferences
  • 5 articles published in BDI indexed journals
  • 2 mobility stages of documentation (Florence, Italy; Malaga, Spain)
  • Organizing an international conference
  • Publishing a collective volume

2016

Estimated results

 

The understanding of the spatial symbolic representations that exist in the traditional social imaginary of cultural identity (II)

Identification, classification and interpretation of spatial symbolic representations that structure the postmodern social imaginary

 

Disemination of the results

 

Participation in international conferences

Publishing of articles in BDI indexed journals or in the proceedings international conferences indexed ISI or BDI

Mobility stage for external documentation

Organizing an international symposium

 

Delivered results

 

  • 4 articles published in journals indexed in international database (BDI)
  • 10 presentations at international conferences
  • 2 presentations at international symposium
  • 2 presentations at national symposium
  • Mobility stage for external documentation (Bruxelles, Belgia)
  • Organizing an international symposium

 

 In the second stage of the project, we continued to apply the etstablished working method to: a) understand the spatial symbolic representations that exist in the traditional social imaginary of cultural identity; b) investigate the relationship between the forms of social imaginary and the structures that regulate the identitary behavior of ethnocultural communities.
 According to common representations, the culture discloses its meanings in closer connection with its particularity and its symbolic emplacement. Without these characteristics relating to symbolic topology, the culture cannot achieve its specific function for the destiny of the community and, therefore, it would be nonsensical. The collective construction of meaning serves the purpose of social integration. For this, culture reveals itself as being coherent, determined and limited. Even the cultures in expansion of empires or migratory populations comply with the imperative of coherence and self-limitation. Both culture and society are characterized by limitation.
 The limitation of the cultural environment, the territoriality of the ethnic cultures is an essential prerequisite for constructing the collective meaning for individuals. The connectivity which characterizes the globalization affects not only the anthropological places, the physical spaces where particular cultures flourish, but also the habit to put together the social integration and the construction of meaning (at individual and collective level) with the experience of territory, of place. The cultures are in the situation of not being associated with a fixed location anymore. There were also attempts to interpret culture independent of location. The term “culture” is a metaphor derived from the agricultural practice. The traditional idea of culture is associated with the image of the garden, which is primarily a stable place for cultivation.
 According to this paradigm, the development of culture must be associated with the organic growth, with the vegetal rhythms, i.e. to certain stability, and not to violent and revolutionary change. On the other hand, the culture in the traditional sense can be associated symbolically with the village, which is the exemplary image of stability and emplacement, or with the field, which is the favourite location of the plant cultivation. The exemplary symbol of dwelling is the house; culture is the optimal medium inhabited by man, and inherited identities creates the existential feeling of intimacy, confort and safety. Perhaps for that reason ethnocultural identity is a stronger identity marker.
 As a place, culture is circumscribed, is defined by difference (specificity). For Frederick Barth, this specific difference is constructed symbolically, starting not from the content of a culture, from the set of social practices and forms of expression specific to it, but starting from the border, from the area of contact with other cultures. Any culture is associated with a specific area due to a symbolic space that makes it possible. Any ethnic culture is characterized by locality. Concreteness can be interpreted as location, placement, particularity, specific difference. This is what gives territoriality a qualitative dimension.
 The practices of travel, communication and exchange have put in crisis the conceptual association between culture and location. Although the current social imaginary is reshaped by the new conditions of existence (telecommunications, expansion and telecommunications, expansion and diversification of forms of migration) that outrun the old cohabitation frameworks, leading to new structures and forms of socialization on the model of flows and networks, it is necessary to research the way that the old images of stability, of belongingness and passing on of practical knowledge from one generation to another survive.
 Multicultural cohabitations create mixtures, cross-breeding or create symbolic delimitations, with a shift to affiliation groups and legitimate desire for public recognition (recognition of collective identity of affiliation, of origin, hence inherited – the policy of recognition, claiming a different treatment by recognising collective rights, cultural rights) and for (cultural and political) self-determination. Furthermore, multicultural cohabitations generate unstable configurations, prone to dissolution and reconfiguration. That is why multiculturalism is not a solution to cohabitation issues. It is a form of consensus which denies the identities with which it comes into contact, cancelling their symbolic boundaries by social policies of integration into the dominant national culture, into the national citizenship or into multicultural citizenship.
 Postmodern societies, with their cosmopolitan openness and their practices and policies of inclusion and integration of difference, are actually mined by the contrary trend to reaffirm the difference, through the revival of localism, even in an interconnected world, with an extended neighborhood because of communication and of technological possibility for circulation of goods and people.
 So we have passed to the identification, classification and interpretation of spatial symbolic representations that structure the postmodern social imaginary (the second main objective of this stage according to the working plan of the project).
 The social imaginary of communication and of crossing borders movements has created a bold alternative of non-places (Marc Auge) and of those ethnoscapes (Arjun Apadurai); it was crystallising an imaginary of transgressing the ancient representations that preserve the local specificity.
 “Ethnoscape” is a term coined by Arjun Appadurai. It refers to a landscape representing the changing social world: tourists, migrants, refugees, exiles. Individuals and groups in movement represent the essential dimension of our world which affects politically both the nations and the international relations. Ethnoscape is a term with an ambiguous meaning. It may suggest both an ethno-cultural landscape and the image of an ethnic group, of the specific way of life and of the social practices that characterize this group. But it can also suggest a release from the constraints of the traditional ethnic environment (“escape from ethnos”), an environment which often associates not only a style unity of its social practices, a cultural specificity, but even a territory.
 A network, interconnected society, a neighbourhood extended at planetary level through internet will abandon neither its places, nor its localism (even though today one may call it glocalism). It is a transformation of anthropological places, but, paradoxically a reaffirmation of them.
 “Ethnoscape” could mean a reinterpretation of the cultural experience of the locality, the de-territorialisation of the local ethnic cultures under the impact of the specific processes of globalization. Globalisation doesn’t destroy localities, but only transforms them, transforms the way we experience them and replaces many of the familiar environments for whom we had in the past other expectations, with non-places. The widening of social relations as cultural experience affects the specificity of localities in which we live normally. People continue to live concretely in real places, but these are affected, perturbed, altered. The cultural places, the landscapes and cultural environments which are familiar and comfortable, favourable to life are imperceptibly affected by influences, events and social processes located at great distance.
 The traditional social imaginary of cultural identity survives even in the in multicultural and cosmopolitan societies, due to the persistence of representations of identity, of these invariants, as spatial representations characterized by localism, circumscription, stability.
 Cohabitation that does not sanction symbolic delimitations among ethno-cultural groups, that implicitly accepts the fusion which annuls identities, is false cohabitation, which serves either a hegemonic political project of cultural assimilation, or a utopian ideal of a social contract type of consensus without clauses for the parties involved – ethnic groups (more precisely, without the clause of preserving cultural identity and, implicitly, of preserving cultural rights arising from it). We agreed to designate good ecumenicity as an opening towards the Other and a dialogue without cancelling their identity or one’s own identity, while bad ecumenicity would be that of assimilation, hence of disputing the difference, the Other, under the pretext of civilization (missionary or civilizing policies). Desirable ecumenicity does not mean tolerance at any cost or integration until cancellation (disintegration) of one’s own identity. This is likely to be a plausible model of the imaginary of diversity, of coexistence of various ways and styles of life associated with ethnic cultures.

Therefore, all the expected results for this stage of the project were achieved.

2015

Expected results

 

The understanding of the spatial symbolic representations that exist in the traditional social imaginary of cultural identity (I)

 

Dissemination of the results

 

International conferences participation.
Mobility stage for external documentation

 

Delivered results

 

  • 3 presentations at international conferences
  • Mobility stage for external documentation (Prague,  Czech Republic)

 

 In the first stage of the project we have considered from the beginning to identify the method.
 The project employs the theoretical tools in the fields of: social anthropology (when it investigates the structures and functions of the social imaginary) and political philosophy (when it evaluates the normative significance of cultural identity). For the study of the social imaginary, the phenomenological method is used (the description of social forms, representations associated with cultural identity, belonging to an ethnic or national community). Our research, therefore, falls under the ethno-symbolist interpretation trend due to the concern to identify the connection between the forms of social imaginary and the normative structures that regulate the identity behaviour of ethno-cultural communities. Ethno-symbolism is, within the academic field, an established approach to the study of ethnicity and nationalisms as professed by Walker Connor, Anthony D. Smith or John Hutchinson.
 The main objective of the first stage of the research project was The understanding of the spatial symbolic representations that exist in the traditional social imaginary of cultural identity (I)
 In fact, the object of research is the link between the forms of social imaginary and the structures that regulate the identitary behaviour of ethno-cultural communities. More precisely, is the link between the representations (of cultural identity) that structure the social imaginary and the rules governing the identitary behaviour (the coexistence of ethnic groups, of individuals from different ethnic, cultural or religious traditions). The politics of difference, the identity claims are social practices guided by normative models which relies on symbolic distinction and social representations.
 The social imaginary is active, creative and supports social reality. It has a regulative function (in the Kantian sense) and hence a constitutive function (it establishes social reality), which makes certain norms, regulations necessary by requiring them as social life needs and then imposing, supporting, legitimising them. We also support the thesis according to which cultural identity is being built symbolically, at the level of shared representations that have become collective representations, but it doesn’t exist only in people’s minds; it is precisely because it is being constructed symbolically and because it is a symbolic construction that it is substantial, it has a reality and produces social effects, influences people’s individual and collective behaviour and political decisions.
 The symbolic imagination plays a crucial role in the construction of identitary representations, in creating the notions of homogeneity and othernes, in setting the symbolic border.
 The border is not only the area of symbolic interaction and social exchange with the otherness, but also the area where the identity is symbolically constructed as reflected by the finding of otherness, of difference. The contact of people with the ethno-cultural otherness gives them the possibility to form their own collective identity as difference. As a difference identity, the ethnicity essentially depends on the meeting with the other.
Ferderick Barth emphasized the importance of the border as area of contact, of interaction in defining the cultural identity as a form of social connection. Barth moves the understanding of ethnicity from the intrinsic qualities of a culture to the interaction with other ethno-cultures. The borders of the ethno-cultural group as contact areas become of crucial importance. The notion of border, although it has a symbolic and communicational sense here (meaning contact, interaction and exchange), suggest the notion of area, of delimitation, of spatial circumscription.
 Phenomenologically, the place has internal structure but it also refers to location within a context, an ampler configuration. Phenomenologically, a crucial element of the cultural place is the border. The role of the border is to maintain, to preserve the difference on the inside/outside model. The normative landmark of keeping one’s identity through difference is imaginarily conditioned by the representation of a demarcation, of delimitation (inside/outside). The border separates, but, at the same time, is an area of contact and transfer, of influence, and of delimitation through difference. Delimitation by symbolically sanctioning difference allows self-definition, identification of one’s own matter and effort to preserve this matter and this specific character. Currently, there are numerous interpretation trends which emphasize the processual dimension of collective cultural identity, overlooking an aspect, namely the preservation of a constant form in the midst of dynamisms and social flows. Furthermore, many theories strive to support actual heterogeneity of cultural groups or the varying degree of group member’s loyalty to the group. One often forgets that, at the imaginary level, what counts is that the group is represented as homogenous. The border sanctions the representation of the specific trait under the species of homogeneity. The only thing that matters at the imaginary level is the difference between group members and non-members, not the differences of attitude and of identifying characteristics within the group. This symbolic representation of the ethnic community as homogenous entails certain group attitudes and the configuration of normative landmarks in order to preserve identity and make claims of public recognition or self-determination.
 As a “place”, the cultural identity of ethnic groups claims the right to the city, claims expression in the public “space”, visibility, recognition. Undifferentiated citizenship granted to individuals needs to be corrected; in the current socio-cultural environment, a differentiated citizenship (in which fundamentally individual rights and civic obligations should be complemented by cultural rights) is necessary. Public space is, according to common and academic view, a place where differences are effaced. But public space is also the place where one is exposed to the sight of the other and to the requirements of cohabitation. The public space of a modus vivendi is not a public space of consensus, i.e. of ignoring differences, particularities for the benefit of formal, consensual harmonization.

Therefore, the expected results have been achieved completely.