European regional minorities and immigration: confluent realities

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Centre pel Diàleg

Intercultural de Catalunya

European regional minorities and immigration:

confluent realities

International workshop

Barcelona, November 15-16 2002

Organizer: Europa Diversa

1. Introduction

A common factor in Europe sees migratory groups arrive in receiving societies or regions which differ culturally from the corresponding states, in some cases, these can be seen in the context of regional minorities. This situation has consequences that need to be analysed; as the migratory phenomenon has an impact on national identities and, in particular, those that do not correspond to the state. It is necessary to set this dual reality openly within the Europa Diversa model of cultural diversity that is being formulated.

If immigration, due to its intensity or heterogeneity, can produce special difficulties in the articulation of relations with the receiving society, in terms of regional minorities or cultures (often with much more limited powers and resources than the state) these difficulties are multiplied. This makes it even more vital to study these cases in particular.
From a European perspective focused on detecting the problems that arise from the framework of a diverse Europe, a basic desire behind the activity presented here is to try to avoid the dynamic of transferring the themes of diversity to the European environment; to avoid imagining that the construction of Europe will bring magical solutions to the problems arising from an “our place” mentality.

In this seminar, we will try to examine how cultural diversity articulates itself when three factors come together:

  • Regional minorities, especially when historic cultural and national differentiating factors coincide.

  • The framework of the state in which this coming together takes place, bearing in mind in particular the distribution of responsibility in terms of immigration.

  • Immigrant groups, especially with reference to their cultural characteristics.

Firstly, thus, it is necessary to analyse what the reactions have been of minority nationalities (or different cultures) when faced with the challenge of diversity and where the possible problems and contradictions arise. From this analysis, relevant findings can be taken to help understand and order the cultural pluralism in communities that differ nationally or culturally from the majority in the corresponding state.
Secondly, taking a generic analysis of the relation between nationalism and immigration can help make a parallel and comparative analysis of the recognition, or lack thereof, by the State of the regional and immigrant cultures, which shows the limits to cultural pluralism in each country.
Thirdly, we find ourselves facing a situation of gradual progress in which the immigrant has their citizenship and social rights recognised, whilst they also verify whether it is necessary to affiliate to the political and cultural framework of the receiving society.

The aims of this workshop are threefold:

  1. To identify the key elements of cultural integration policies for immigration in contexts of national minorities.

  2. To find out if the experience of contact with diversity predisposes a greater understanding of the fact of migration; or whether, on the contrary, as Kymlicka points out, for minority regions lacking the mechanisms to be able to create their own immigration policy and guarantee integration and social cohesion, the possibility of xenophobic tendencies arising increases as a result of the feeling of insecurity.

  1. To try to come up with more imaginative ideas from the perspective of the European regions that could combat the current situation where xenophobia and demagogic politics seem to dominate discussions on immigration.

2. Basic questions:

  1. National minorities:

    • Which elements are the most important in the culturally different region in question? Which of these elements come in to conflict, and which do not, with the cultures of the immigrant groups?

    • Is the presence of other cultures within the national reality seen as an element which makes the process of national affirmation more difficult? What presence have immigrant cultures had in the past and to what degree have they been seen to be “oppressive”? In this way, cases of migration that involve those who do not form part of the state’s dominant culture and migration that reinforces the presence of those who do share in the culture of the majority within the minority culture influence the situation in different ways.

    • Has the national minority in question had historical experience of contact with other cultures? Has this contact been endogenous or exogenous? Does the historical memory thereof have a positive or negative influence when coming into contact with “the other” immigrant?

  1. The State

    • What concept of citizenship is employed by the State? Is it a political, social and civic belonging that does not imply demands of linguistic, cultural or national affiliation (such as that in Switzerland or Belgium)? Or, does citizenship imply the duty of adhering (not only instrumentally, but in terms of a primordial loyalty) to a language and culture inherent to all of the State’s citizens?

    • For effective action on a coherent model of policies for integration, diverse factors play their part: the economic resources assigned, the level of self-government, the level of administrative decentralisation and mechanisms for coordinating these factors. We must not forget the progressive communitarisation of aspects relating to these policies. Is it possible to develop a specific model for integration without having control over the implementing of the necessary policies?

    • The articulation between the various administrative levels: federal or regional and local, requires the participation of the different sectors of society. What level of participation by these social players is seen in terms of the State's decentralisation?

  • The typology of immigration (arrival areas, rural areas, urban areas, etc.), alongside the mobility and dynamics within the state also define an immigration that requires a different form of political management. Does the State develop immigration management strategies with this in mind?

c) The immigrant

  • What is the experience in terms of integration in cultural contexts not dominated by the state? Is there compatibility between extensive integration (focusing on the dominant society in the state) and intensive integration (focusing as much as possible on identifying with the society of the immediate surroundings).

  • In environments of linguistic minorities, how does the linguistic factor act as an integrating element? What role does the language play in relation to the process of “no longer feeling like a foreigner”?

  • How do the cultural forms for understanding the world (such as identifying references or linguistic traditions) that each individual or group brings with them influence their attitudes towards national and interstate diversity? Or, the different immigration projects being planned?

  • In what way are urban, social, educational, sanitary, etc. integration or segregation and cultural integration or segregation interdependent?

3. Sessions:
Friday 15th (morning) Session I: Regional minorities
Friday 15th (afternoon) Session II: State
Saturday 16th (morning) Session III: The immigrant

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