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Session Overview
RN07_09a: Sociology of Culture: Appropriation and othering
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Predrag Cveticanin, University of Nis
Location: GM.334
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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Different Concepts Of Culture – Different Barriers To Inclusion

Elina Marmer, Cornelia Sylla, Louis Henri Seukwa

University Of Applied Sciences Hamburg (HAW), Germany

This paper presents results from a thorough policy and literature review within the international EU-project “Cultural heritage and identity of Europe’s future (CHIEF)”. It was conducted in nine different countries to identify national and international concepts of “culture”, “cultural heritage”, “cultural identity”, “cultural literacy”, and cultural education in order to facilitate more inclusive notions of European cultural heritage as a site of production, translation and exchange of heterogeneous cultural knowledge. Here, we will focus on the German case study but use the other national case studies as confrontational material for the discussion.

German policy papers as well as academic literature on cultural education are using three different basic concepts of culture: 1. in the sense of aesthetic production and consumption, 2. as a set of shared values and practices, and 3. as commemoration of the specific German past. Based on these dominant discourses we will discuss how differences in cultural concepts shape the lines of inclusion.

While the first concept leads to educational attempts that generally aim towards participation in high and mass culture, the second has a strong normative aspect, which can lead to exclusion. The third however focuses on certain aspects of history while leaving out others, like colonialism, which could be seen as equally significant. By failing to reflect on this historical legacy, cultural knowledge associated with colonialism is effectively reproduced, which contributes to manifestation of structural racism and discourages participation of those, whose history is not considered.

Appropriating ‘Balkans’: Dubious Nostalgia for Yugoslavia in Independent Slovenia

Peter Stankovic

University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia has in 1991 proclaimed independence from the former multi-ethnic Yugoslavia. When several other republics followed the suit, a bloody civil war broke out. One of the most important reasons for the destructive breakup of the country was growing influence of nationalisms. It should be pointed out, however, that there were also several social groups in the former Yugoslavia, which have actively opposed the growth of nationalisms. One of these was the culture of Yu-rock music (Yugoslavian rock), which has with its universal allegiances helped to preserve at least a degree of sane distance from the feverish outbursts of nationalisms among the significant part of the country’s youth.

The case of Slovenian nostalgic ‘Balkan-scene’ from the 1990s and early 2000s, however, shows that various appropriations of Yu-rock music and culture did not necessarily have simple positive political effects. It is true that listening to the Yu-rock music and appropriation of what was at the time perceived as typically ‘Balkan’ life-style by large segments of the Slovenian youth represented an important symbolic challenge to the official Slovenian nationalist discourse, but this opposition did little to abolish the stereotyped understanding of the ‘Balkans’ as such. Just as in the official discourse, there was little recognition among the nostalgic Slovenian youth that ’Balkans’ is actually comprised of rather different ethnicities, cultures, histories, religions, folkways etc., which means that their enthusiastic appropriation of ‘Balkans’ only reproduced the dominant Slovenian understanding of peoples from the other former Yugoslavian republics as complete Other.

How Visual Messages Can Show An Injustice Against The Other

Urszula Jarecka

IFIS PAN, Poland

This paper is devoted to analysis of chosen barriers in social life, and protests against the cases of injustice against “the strangers” manifested in the social sphere. It means analysis of murals, sticker art, photographs used as posters, and prepared by the well-known artists and anonymous performers. Emanuel Levinas’ concept of the Other and moral responsibility in the interpersonal and social relationships could be employed here to interpret some context of visual messages in public space, based on photography and the other images.

The first part of the paper focused on the visible and invisible barriers between two worlds, legally and politically approved, though, not always easily identified. Visible barriers, like that on the state borders or at the airport, are easy accessible, and visualization can say a lot about the official understanding of a given border. However, some borders and invisible barriers excluding the Other from our sterile world couldn’t be portraited directly and understood without any comment. A story behind the picture could add new factors to understand the crisis of humanity in a given case. Chosen examples will be discussed here. The second part of paper is focused on the usage of photography and other images to show the injustice in different cases concerning “strangers” (including immigrants). The research material is collected from the existing visual data (gathered to show some the media background of analyzed cases), and from my own photographs taken during the last two years in Greece, Portugal, Hungary, and Poland.

Cultural invasion or cultural engagement? An investigation of the Confucius Institute (CI) in British universities

Liexu Cai

School of Education, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

The rapid development of the Chinese economy requires the Chinese government actively to engage with others as the benevolent stakeholder on the world stage. Similar to the purposes of the British Council, the Confucius Institute (CI) was established for Chinese language learning and cultural exchange overseas in 2004. However, the high extensibility, intensity and velocity of CIs over the last decade (Gil, 2017), as well as unique joint ventures with local universities were viewed with some suspicion in liberal western narratives. By contrast, if there are any peripheral voices from the CI itself, they are not heard.

In this sense, the critical intercultural communication approach by Nakayama and Halualani (2010) was applied as the conceptual framework for my study, which takes the macro context of power asymmetries as well as cultural, ideological and political differences along with the micro context in CIs into consideration. In doing so, the study attempts to address the following questions: 1) What do the CIs and Chinese staff endeavour to do in order to establish the visibility and search for recognition in Britain? 2) To what extent do power differences shape the cultural interaction forms of CIs? 3) Are CIs successfully making an impact on British society? If so, in which direction? It is worth highlighting that although CIs aim to search for recognition and cultural communication in the Western context, the power asymmetries and the internal limitations lead to a more conservative role, which could achieve limited impact in British society.

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