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Sum up of week 2

Synthesize what we learned on networks and labels

You have reached the end of Week 2, well done!

This week, our objectives were to analyse the concrete policy instruments that cities can use to promote their heritage, to define labels and networks, and to explore the transformations, power dynamics, and effects of these instruments.

Heritage labels and urban networks can be viewed as mechanisms that enable the horizontal diffusion of norms on heritage protection and promotion.

How to differentiate between labels and networks? This can be difficult. For example, the UNESCO Creative City Network, in spite of its name, functions as a label because it selects cities based on a set of criteria. But in general, we can say that labels are mainly targeted at the public-at-large, whereas networks are addressed to professionals. Labels are to communicate, networks are to collaborate. Another difference is that labels put cities in competition, whereas networks are mostly about cooperation.

What are the main lessons from this analysis of labels and networks?

First, we have seen how transnational dynamics are reshaping the way we define, select, and promote our heritage. Through both city networks and heritage labels, professionals and citizens from different countries come together to define criteria and norms. We are moving away both from national and Universalist conceptions of heritage. For example, we have seen how the World Heritage List has extended its initial conception to include intangible heritage. We see a stronger concern towards valuing specific communities’ heritage instead of a linear vision of civilisation.

Secondly, we have discussed the way in which cities take up governance functions that states do not readily fulfil while they should. We have seen how mayors as well as local cultural actors can stand up to challenge divisive conceptions put forward by nation-states. We have discussed the case of cities helping each other and finding solutions to better welcome and integrate migrants and refugees.

Next week, we will take a look at the types of actions that cities can take to use their cultural diversity to promote themselves on the international scale, with a focus on emerging global cities.

© European University Institute
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Cultural Diversity and the City

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