Author:Maurizio Albahari (University of Notre Dame)
Paper short abstract:
The paper discusses intercultural, trans-regional and interreligious dialogue and relations in the southern Italian institutional engagement of North African, Balkan, and Middle Eastern partners. The ethnographic focus is on publicly funded programs in the performing arts and heritage promotion.
Paper long abstract:
Film festivals, concerts, and a variety of events centered on intercultural, trans-regional and interreligious dialogue, practice, and heritage seem to be flourishing in southern European settings. This ethnographically informed paper focuses on the case of Apulia, the Italian southeastern peninsular region, in its institutional engagement of North African, Balkan, and Middle Eastern partners in the Euro-Mediterranean context. I overview current practices and discourses of intercultural, trans-regional and interreligious dialogue, focusing in particular on publicly funded programs in the performing arts and heritage promotion. I then offer an evaluation of these attempts' actual socio-cultural impact, interrogating the accompanying rhetorical clichés and the meanings that dialogue, diversity, cultural heritage, and geographical locale assume. The paper is also interested in mapping the unintended implications of such increasingly institutionalized cosmopolitanism. For example, do "socially engineered" cosmopolitan practices and discourses magnify, reify, or paradoxically obliterate the diverse histories and everyday lives of Apulian coastal towns? And how do asymmetrical relations of power across the Euro-Mediterranean region traverse the stages where cosmopolitan heritage is to be performed?
Mutuality and memory: encounters in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cities