Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Interculturalism will require a bigger effort from the majorities

I like the discourse that has been held for a few years now, about moving on from the concept of multiculturalism to interculturalism. Even though i find what you do and why you do what you do more important than what you chose to call it, it is always interesting when we make the effort of gathering and reaching consent.

There is something though, that i miss in the discussions and in the intelectual interchange about this progression. The Intercultural cities network, that is an important platform for this, explains how the european cities developed from a guest worker/transit mentality, to a assimilation mentality, from there to a mentality of multiculturalism and now to the state of mind of interculturalism. The leap between multi- and interculturalism consists of developing from coexistance of cultures in multiculturalism, to interaction between cultures and cultural groups in the intercultural mindset. Very good.

From my point of view, it is important to have in mind that all people that have migrated or changed their home territory have had the natural instinct of the interculturalism. You have gotten to a place and wanted to both interact and coexist. The migrant have always looked for the possbility to share, trade and build relationships with the people in the new homeland. The reason why interculturalism didn't occur or become the natural state of things from the beginning, is that the people in the country of reception always have tended to reject this intent of interculturalism. Instead of welcoming, embracing and meeting up with a positive feeling to integrate - they have treated the new members of the territory with suspicion and rejection. Sometimes subtile, sometimes explicit. This created the state of multiculturalism that we have been in for several decades by now.

The irony of it is that it also has created a dynamic of blaming that is absurd: in almost every city with 10%+ of migrant community, you will hear people from the majority population saying that the migrants segregate themselves, don't want to integrate with the majority and want to stay by themselves in their "ghettos".

What i am missing in the discourse of interculturalism, is that we are returning to the natural and instinctive behaviour that was sabotaged by the majority population - the majority population whos' representatives are now trying to switch to normal again, instead of continuing to act in the destructive ways that led away from interculturalism, and settled with an approved multiculturalism.

Why is this an important nota bene? Because as for now what i see is representatives from the majority population talking as if they invented this concept that now will be implemented if everyone in an equal effort. Minority-groups and majority-groups are supposed to agree on this idea and implement it. But the thing is - the minority groups always agreed, always wanted this. It is by far a bigger responsability and a bigger effort required from the majority group than for the minorities.
 
What we are doing now is repairing something we broke, not inventing a spectacular new way of thinking.