Turning diversity heritage into an asset

We have so far looked at cities that have had to come to terms with a divisive or difficult past or for which cultural diversity coming from past migration flows is experienced as a challenge to the city’s identity and heritage. Here we turn to two global cities where migration and the cultural diversity that it brings has been adopted as an asset and as an essential feature that projects the city’s image to the world as a major global cultural centre.

Naturally our first example is New York City. This is not only because of its character as a global city but also because as part of an immigrant nation it has embraced migration as an intrinsic part of its heritage; however, at the same time, the city felt it had to compete with the centuries-long cultural wealth of the European historical cultural centres (like Paris, London, or Rome).

The second example discussed below is London. The focus here is on whether actively valorising cultural heritage as an economic sector through the cultural and creative industries is a viable cultural and economic strategy. As the case of London illustrates, the success of such a conversion of heritage into an industry raises important challenges and that a more territorial, city-neighbourhood-based approach would perhaps be more appropriate.

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This article is from the free online course:

Cultural Diversity and the City

European University Institute (EUI)