Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN07_04: Sociology of Culture: Migration, ethnicity and origin
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Dominik Zelinsky, University of Edinburgh
Location: GM.335
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Culture Wars in Serbia

Predrag Cveticanin

University of Nis, Serbia

The notion of “culture war” (Kulturkampf) originated at the end of the XIX century to designate the conflict between the German government and the Roman Catholic Church. The notion was given a wider meaning in the US during the XX century, implying the conflict between those who held conservative world-views and those with liberal world-views, and entered wide circulation with J. D. Hunter's book “Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America” (1991). Although the main issues which have been debated in the US (and other countries) include abortion, gun politics, values in public education, homosexuality, and censorship, the culture war is in fact, as Hunter rightly states, about power – a struggle to achieve and maintain the power to define reality. In that sense, it is close to the conceptions of symbolic struggles in society – the concept of hegemony (Gramsci, 1948-1951) or the concept of classification struggles (Bourdieu, 1979). The drastic changes that the society in Serbia has been undergoing from the 1990s to this day have been accompanied by intense symbolic struggles – primarily between the members of the “patriotic” block on the one hand, and the cosmopolitans and anti-war activists on the other. But cultural wars have taken place on three additional “fronts”: between highly-educated and uneducated groups; between the urban and rural groups, and between the European North and Oriental South of the country. The reports from these symbolic battlefields provide the basis for this presentation (discourses, rhetorical strategies, argumentation). It is based on the data from 75 semi-structured interviews carried out as part of the project “Fields of symbolic contestation in Serbia” and “Struggles on Symbolic Boundaries”.

The Enigma of Origin: The Notion of “Leitkultur” (Guiding Culture) and its relation to ideas of “Heimat” (Homeland) in the Current Discourse about Migration in Germany

Jörn Ahrens

Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany

Regarding current migration into Germany, the public discourse is largely characterized by anxieties about the foreignness of refugees. In this context ideas of a German “Leitkultur” (guiding culture) have become relevant to the discourse. Borrowed from political scientist Bassam Tibi, conservative politician Friedrich Merz most influentially introduced this term to the public debate in 2000. Leitkultur, then, expresses the idea of a dominant culture especially with regard to cultural performativity and practices of sociation. After a longer period of absence from the public discourse, the idea of Leitkultur was taken up again by various politicians between 2015 and 2017. The topic reached its climax in April 2017 with the theses on Leitkultur launched by at-that-time German minister of the interior, Thomas de Maizière. In my presentation I will firstly reconstruct the socio-political epistemology of the idea of Leitkultur. Second, and predominantly, I will map out in how far this idea rather successfully serves as an argument for social exclusion in the German debate about (im-)migration. Leitkultur boldly communicates a relation of power between the dominant and prevailing culture at place that seemingly receives its legitimacy from a longstanding origin as Heimat in the particular cultural area in question (in this case: Germany). Whereas any other cultural background migrating into Germany is then required to abandon its former mode of cultural self-understanding. Thus, the idea of Leitkultur does not express a demand for mere integration, but for complete assimilation; and it also expresses massive prejudice against any notion of otherness.

Pomaks At The Junction Of Different Experiences

Melek Kırtıl


The Muslim and Turkish Pomak population in Balkans was the most urgent problem for the new nation-states that wanted to get rid of heterogeneous identities. Pomaks living in Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, and Albania began to migrate to Turkey after the 1877 Ottoman-Russian War because their identities were transformed into a field of conflict through cultural interventions and they were exposed to political and cultural discrimination. Despite the fact that the Pomaks living in Turkey for almost 150 years state that they have not suffered any discrimination in these lands which are the continuation of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey's experience of modernization and nation-state-ization has led to the differentiation of the cultures of the first migratory Pomaks from the cultures of the Pomaks who migrated after the First World War. These two separate Pomak communities feel a sense of belonging on different levels; they claim that they do not resemble each other and have built their cultural integration in Turkish society in various fields of religion, language, family structure, and tradition. This research, which was conducted by qualitative research method in Pomak villages in Kirklareli, which receive intensive Pomak migration from Bulgaria and Greece, focuses on these different Pomak communities, which constitute two main cultural lines. Pomaks, who are objectified in the middle of the debates about who they are, have been positioned as a subject in this study without an attempt to give them an identity. Moreover, they have been the interlocutors of the question of what they feel in a historical and cultural context. In a nutshell, the present study mainly focuses on how cultural coercion has shaped Pomaks' ties of belonging.

Crossing Ethnic Boundaries: Nonindigenous Undergraduate Students’ Development of Intercultural Sensitivity

Ju-Hui Chang, Chien-Lung Wang

Taitung University, Taiwan

In Taiwan only 2% of the population of 23 million people is indigenous and belongs to the Austronesian language-speaking groups. By contrast, in Taitung County, 30% of the population of 220,000 people is indigenous. Therefore, developing nonindigenous undergraduate students’ intercultural sensitivity to aid them in appreciating cultural differences from an ethnocentric orientation to a more ethnorelative worldview is crucial in a multicultural society. This study attempted to develop the intercultural sensitivity of nonindigenous undergraduate students majoring in digital media by creating electronic picture books about the culture of the Puyuma tribe in a workshop. The intercultural sensitivity development process of these students was analyzed on the basis of Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. The study began in January 2017 and ended in October 2017; the methods included participant observation, personal interviews, and works analysis of students’ electronic picture books. The results revealed that the attitudes of the undergraduates could be classified as the stage of minimization of cultural difference; the students assumed that the elements of the Han Chinese cultural worldview were experienced as universal when they created the outline of the picture book in the beginning. After literature review and participation in tribe life, the students developed the attitude of acceptance and adaptation toward cultural differences; that is, they became respectful toward cultural differences, recognized indigenous people’s worldview, and acted in a culturally appropriate manner. Finally, they formed multiple cultural frames of reference to reconstruct their identity and achieved the final stage of integration of cultural differences.