Sum up of week 1

You have reached the end of week 1, well done!

This week, we introduced the issues and challenges that cultural diversity represents for cities. We talked about different forms of cultural diversity, such as ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity. We covered a wide range of topics in which urban actors and urban citizens have to deal with the diversity of their city. We looked at urban conservation in Mumbai, the commemoration of the abolition of slavery in Bristol, urban regeneration in Johannesburg, creative industries development in London, the construction of a mosque in Cologne, and the creation of museums in New York City.

Cultural diversity can represent an issue for city. We have talked about the difficulties of establishing a new religious building in Cologne. This reflected the controversies on mosques in European cities, which often becomes a pretext for nationalist activists to express dissent against communities perceived as alien. We also saw how cities must deal with contested heritage when diverging interpretations of history enter in conflict, but also when the scars of past events shed light on contemporary problems. Thus, Bristol’s commemoration of the abolition of slavery is not only about looking towards the past, but also tackling contemporary patterns of racial discrimination.

Cultural diversity can also be viewed as an asset. The case of New York City and its different museums provides a clear illustration. The city has been shaped by several migration waves and managed to integrate this diversity into its own heritage by establishing museums that tell the stories of different communities, reflecting their contribution to the city’s culture.

We also discussed the role of institutions and of local authorities in dealing with such diverse heritage. We learned how the gallery of Modern and Contemporary Bergamo developed trainings to help create dialogue and improve access to art for the diverse populations living in urban peripheries.

Finally, we stressed the importance of civil society in promoting diverse city heritage. We saw that historians and local associations were central to the project of the national immigration museum in Paris. Their work enhanced intangible heritage of migrations, turning ordinary objects into a testimony of the memories of the people who migrated to France.

Next week, we will look in greater detail at the tools that cities can mobilize in order to deal with cultural diversity and promote their heritage.

We are looking forward to reading your feedback!

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This article is from the free online course:

Cultural Diversity and the City

European University Institute (EUI)