In the European context, conceptualizing the political governance of cultural diversity poses a challenge to the social sciences, for a long time impregnated by what some authors have called a "methodological nationalism" that takes for granted the nation-state as the institutional form predominant in the modernity (Wallerstein et al. 1996; Wimmer 2002)1. The nation-state centrality has dominated also the European integration process that was not meant to create a system of "E pluribus unum" as in the motto of the US Constitution: in fact, the Union is legallly obliged to "respect the national identities of its Member States" and therefore to accept their legislation on citizenship, minorities and immigration.

A comparison between selected EU member states and Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico) analysing their different attempts to manage their multi-ethnic populations, and, at the same time, the agency deployed by migrants and minorities facing these different models, may be especially heuristic to enable the understanding of the main challenges in governing cultural diversity and the impact of the different policies on the processes of inclusion/exclusion of migrants and minorities.

For this reason, in spite of a growing role of the European Union in border controls, integration policies for migrants mainly depend from the single member states, which are challenged by the claim of recognition by ethnic and religious minorities and the development of trans-national networks and diasporas. The lack of a common European policy and the different approaches of the member states are a source of uncertainty: policies of assimilation or of differential exclusion are questioned, but multiculturalism is also object of some harsh critics by European political leaders, in spite of the successful outcomes obtained in Australia and Canada (Castles, S. and Davidson, A. 2000)2: to sum up, Europe pains to find a way for managing cultural diversity.

Latin American Federal governments (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico) face also cultural diversity and are implementing new policies, in response to the challenges raised by the indigenous movements, the minorities of African descent and the internal and international migrants. The concept of multiculturalism has been used in Latin America, but it has largely been criticized. Thus, multiculturalism is the predominant denomination in Europe; in other regions it takes different meanings: as a matter of fact, governance of cultural diversity cannot result from the ideology of the European nation-states, but it is influenced by historical divisions among ethnic groups. Cultural diversity is in fact the result of long dynamic processes shaped by the social action of mainstream and minority cultural groups whose needs, political expectations, constellations and self-perceptions are in a permanent state of change (CEPAL, Panorama social de América Latina, Comisión Económica para América Latina-Santiago de Chile, quasi annuel. http://www.eclac.org/; Social Panorama of Latin America 2006, ECLAC, 2007 ). Processes of regional integration have change migration policies making them more open, especially towards regional migrants and in some cases, to highed skills. This is the case of Argentina since 2004, and more recently of Brazil (Le Gall & Sassone 2008; Novik 2010). 3

Through the exchange of experienced and early stage researchers, Summer Schools and training workshops, the proposal will promote multidisciplinary empirical studies (anthropology, sociology, geography, gender studies, political science) exploring, on one side, the policies in connection with the broad cultural context, on the other, the agency of migrants and minorities, in terms of redefinition of their identity and strategies to face the obstacles and the advantages in front of the mainstream society (Robles, Fernando, 1999)4.

The main aims of the proposal are:

  1. to consolidate the institutional dimension of the existing teaching and research programs (masters, doctoral studies, joint diplomas, summer schools) that focus on various aspects of management of cultural diversity and of minorities and migrants' agency, and to improve the training programs;
  2. to implement innovative comparative research discussion and to produce a significant number of publications (a new journal in English will be also launched);
  3. to enrich the theoretical framework producing new conceptual tools in the research field of the governance of cultural diversity and identity formation processes for migrants and minorities through the transfer of knowledge and the comparison.

These aims will be achieved through the mobility of experienced and early stage researchers, the organization of four Summer Schools in San Gimignano (Italy), three methodological workshops in Florainopolis (Brazil), Oaxaca (Mexico) and Buenos Aires (Argentina), and a final conference in Paris (France). The great expertise of the network's members in the field of cultural diversity, multiculturalism, migration and indigenous studies represents a solid background for a successful implementation of the proposal.


1 Wallerstein, Immanuel et al. (1996), Open the Social Sciences. Report of the Gulbenkian Commission for the Restructuring of the Social Sciences (Stanford: Stanford University Press) Wimmer, Andreas (2002), Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflicts. Shadows of Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

2 Castles, S. and Davidson, A. 2000. Citizenship and Migration: Globalisation and the Politics of Belonging. London: Macmillan.

3 2007 Le Gall, Julie et Sassone, Susana María, « Tournant des politiques migratoires en
Argentine », EchoGéo, Numéro 3, décembre 2007 / février 2008, [En ligne], mis en ligne le 13
mars 2008. URL : http://echogeo.revues.org/document1850.html.
Susana Novick (Dir.), Migraciones y MERCOSUR: una relación inconclusa Catálogos (Buenos
Aires), 2010, 183 págs.

4 ROBLES, F., "Los Sujetos y la Cotidianidad, elementos para una microsociología de lo
contemporáneo". Sociedad Hoy. Universidad de Concepción. Chile, 1999.

 

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