The Mediterranean: Cultural Identity and Prospects for Intercultural Dialogue
Europe House Zagreb
Dubrovnik, 5 - 7 December 1997
Europe House Zagreb, CULTURELINK/IRMO
The Robert Schuman Institute for Europe, Chantilly (France) and the National Centre for Cultural Communication, Tunis (Tunisia)
Date and Place
Dubrovnik, 5-7 December 1997. The venue of the conference is the city that recently suffered destruction in a war caused by ethnic and religious antagonisms. Historically at the crossroads of the Catholic, Orthodox and Islamic religions, this city played a significant part in the development of intercultural dialogue. However, it also suffered destruction. The recent war marked not only the history of the Mediterranean, but also the history of Europe as a whole.
Croatian, English, French
Aims of the Conference
Is the Mediterranean a region of conflicts or a region of dialogue between nations and cultures? The answer to this question relating to the present and future of the Mediterranean should be sought in the recent historical events. Cultural, commercial, political, security and military tensions have decreased, but have not been eliminated. Ethnic, political and religious conflicts still burden this part of the Mediterranean. According to many analysts, this region has for centuries been marked by conflicting differences which can be reconciled solely by the diplomatic intervention of the international community. It is sometimes said that the Mediterranean could become a battle ground for the "conflict of civilizations" (Huntington).
Others, however, are strong advocates of new features of multicultural dialogue, education, media, etc. They stress the importance of the influence of the "global village" on the traditional Mediterranean cultures. The growth of the standard of living and the ever deeper penetration of the subcultural trends of modern societies into the pores of the traditional Mediterranean society are often seen as the outside catalysts for lowering uncertainty and conflict. Whatever the truth, the conflict approach to intercultural relations in the Mediterranean needs to be balanced by new feelings of interdependence, good neighbourhood and tolerance. The rebirth and strengthening of the Euro-Mediterranean community is one of the preconditions for long-term cooperation, peace and understanding between the nations of this region.
The Mediterranean aspect of the cultural identity of some European peoples has been largely marginalized, as the Mediterranean is an area burdened with a number of unresolved crises and conflicts. The Southeastern Mediterranean countries have been in a particularly difficult position. As they gradually transform into democracies and open economies, their Mediterranean orientation fades out, and they tend to identify themselves as either Central or Eastern European countries. The Southeastern Mediterranean societies also tend to avoid any references to multiculturalism and prefer to identify themselves as strictly unicultural. Disrespect for minority cultures and cultural differences, as well as cultural intolerance, are also very much reflected in various political developments. Therefore, the discussion of cultural identities and cultural relationships to a large extent reflects democratic tendencies and respect for human rights, or a need to improve both.
The main theme and aim of the organizers is to stimulate reflection and encourage efforts to create new shapes of intercultural dialogue, understanding and trust.
The organizers are inviting those experts who are familiar with the background and roots of the conflicts in the Mediterranean region and those who can analyze the current situation, identify the obstacles to the reform of the dialogue, while pointing out the ways of future cooperation between the Mediterranean cultures and nations. The organizers are expecting some 100 participants from 20 Mediterranean countries. The participants are kindly asked to choose a presentation topic within the framework of those listed below and write it on the registration form.
Among the many topics that could be discussed at the conference, the organizers wish to highlight the following:
- The Mediterranean: A Region of Cultures and Civilizations
- Religious and Ethnic Conflicts in the Mediterranean and Prospects for Peace
- Interreligious Dialogue in the Mediterranean
- Is there an Antagonism Between the North and the South Coast of the Mediterranean?
- National, Religious and Cultural Minorities in the Mediterranean
- Trans-Mediterranean Cultural Programmes and Initiatives
- Culture and Geopolitics in the Mediterranean
- Education for Inter-ethnic and Inter-religious Dialogue in the Mediterranean
Conditions of Participation
Accommodation costs for the participants who present written contributions will be covered by the organizers. All those interested in taking part in the conference are kindly asked to fill out the registration form and fax it to Europe House Zagreb at +385 1 4813 956.
Ms. Dorotea Bralić, Public Relations, or Ms. Renata Barčić, Secretary General, Europe House Zagreb, Jurisiceva, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia, tel.: +385 1 4813 414.
15 September, while the deadline for the receipt of written contributions is 1 November.
Welcome to Dubrovnik