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