European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Dialogue in the Med: exploring identity through networks. September 2014

                                            Valletta 2018



09.00 Welcoming address - Jason Micallef, Chair Valletta 2018 Foundation:

"The ECoC's role is to ensure legacy by developing strong international networks"

09.15 Opening speech - The Hon Evarist Bartolo, Minister for Education and Employment:

"it is time for artists to speak up in a region unfortunately full of conflict, a region with a rich cultural fabric. For this reason, need to develop the concept of intercultural dialogue."

See also at Culture should promote diversity - Evarist Bartolo

09.30 Keynote - Prof. Mostafa Hassani Idrissi:

How Huntington's thesis of clash between civilizations has been used by both extreme sides to fuel the conflict in the region. The history of the Mediterranean region depends on how things are played out between national and global state. Any project has to fill symmetrical gaps between people of South and North of the Mediterranean Sea by learning again to narrate a common history. It requires a multiperpective approach. Thus it is wise to regard the History of the Mediterranean sea as a plural history, but likewise to regard History as a critical approach to identity manipulation. If the project is done well, it may offset identity isolationism prevailing in various Mediterranean countries.

History is more than teaching history. It includes the need to understand the notion of otherness. Also it is not enough to learn facts about the history of other cultures. There is a need for fostering decentring and openness of mind and to overcome lack of intellectual maturity. This is best done by examining certain issues much deeper and dealt with by way of synthesis. For example, it would be important to keep in mind the turning points in Mediterranean history. 

Methodologically speaking, it is important to approach historical issues on the basis of written and iconographic documents, and perceive these issues as being around specific historical entities (tension fields). All these tensions express themselves in terms of spaces (sea, land, island, port, extension along water ways etc.).

Today the key question is if the Mediterranean has come to a breaking point or else can develop a new interface? It is a matter of how you identify changes and their consequences (ruptures) even though many things are not so important even if it seems as if of importance (leads to case studies of various periods).

Panel 1 - Capacity building through networks

Panel moderator – Dr. George Cassar

10.00 Khadija El Bennaoui (researcher on mobility)

Dancing with resilience: "Capacity building for cultural operators needs urgent attention & investment in the current context in the MENA region...Contemporary dance is resistant to the logic of the market"

10.20 Dr. Lluis Bonet – ENCATC (European Network of Cultural Administration Training Centres)

"International cultural cooperation was understood initially as an inter-gov. affair...It is important to understand who the actors in cultural diplomacy are and what their goals and agendas are...In the current European context, there is trend towards short term strategies vs policies that support longer term cooperation."

10.40 Christine Merkel (German Commission for UNESCO, responsible for, among other things, monitoring and the implementation of the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity) 

Her presentation talked about cultural diplomacy, cultural cooperation and cultural connectedness between countries. It was advocacy for moving towards a cultural policy research agenda relevant for emerging international relations in 2030.

11.00 Karel Bartak (Head of the Creative European Coordination Unit)

European Capitals of Europe: "The ECoC reminds us that culture is at the core of our shared European project & provides a meeting space for Europeans."

11.00 Panel Debate
11.20 Conclusion of panel debate and summarisation by moderator

11.30 Coffee break

Panel 2 - Overcoming challenges to mobility;

Panel moderator - France Irrmann
11.50 Carlo Testini (BJCEM responsible for the Biennale of Young Artists of Europe & the Mediterranean/ARCI, Rome)

"We can no longer afford a society based on consumption. Sharing and cooperation should be at the core of the new model...Only an effective formation system can guarantee that what we learn and know is relevant to cultural development."

12.10 Ferdinand Richard (various, including Roberto Cimetta Fund)

Mobility, a tool for local development while culture should not be brought to people; rather everyone has culture in him or her, and should articulate it.

12.30 Dr. Nadia von Maltzahn (Orient-Institut)

Cultural exchange within and across the Eastern Mediterranean: "Concrete opportunities should be created for real exchanges between artists, cultural managers, activists, institutions etc...Spaces for creation and collaboration are a vital investment for long-term artistic collaborations."

12.50 Prof Enric Olivé Serret (UNESCO Chair for Euro-Med intercultural dialogue, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona)

Universities and academics are the main agents of the social, cultural, scientific and economic relations in the Mediterranean. He states that "priority needs to be given to cooperation between universities & research centres, so that economic structures are changed. Non-EUunis have made great efforts to modernise but without the cooperation of Northern countries their efforts would be futile."
13.10 Panel Debate
13.30 Conclusion of panel debate and summarisation by moderator

13.40 Light Lunch


Friday 5th September
08.30 Registration and coffee
09.00 Welcoming address – Dr. Karsten Xuereb, Executive Director Valletta 2018 Foundation
09.15 Opening speech – The Hon Dr. Owen Bonnici, Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government:

"New funds for cultural bi-lateral agreements are to be launched in 2015...Artists' engagement with transnational networks is vital in the build-up to ECoC 2018."

09.30 Keynote - Prof. Henry Frendo:

"Although prevailing conditions in the Med are not perfect, we must keep believing in positive change...Solutions to the crisis in the Med needs to germinate from the people, not from governments...Structured dialogue and cooperation between EU and non-EU states is a historic imperative."

Panel 3 – (Re)defining cultural identity in the Mediterranean;

Panel moderator – Dr. Nadia von Maltzahn
10.00 Emiliano Paoletti (BJCEM Biennale of young artists from Europe and the Med secretary general) - Les infrastructures culturelles et le soutien à la création artistique contemporaine dans l'espace de la Méditerranée (prevented from coming)
10.20 Roger Tropeano (Les Rencontres) - Les Rencontres et les villes de la Méditerranée, ouvertes sur les cultures des deux rives:

"ECoC candidate cities that loose the bid offer opportunity for reflection on one's culture, identity & future...Mediterranean politics & culture should be re-connected to European & global politics."

10.40 Giacomo Sferlazzo from Lambedusa, Italy

Mediterraneans as poetic mystery, irreconcilable with the economic and political project of Europe:

"I work towards a common Mediterranean conscience. Europe continually colonises and tries to control the Mediterranean..Investment for a Capital of Culture? It is an old man shading himself from the sun, children playing barefoot in street which is the capital of culture."

"I do not feel being European," says Giacomo Sferlazzo, and closes his address with a song in Sicilian.

11.00 Dr. Hatto Fischer (various, Poiein kai Prattein, including ECOC archive with base in Athens) Europe in future - is there a cultural synthesis in the making? He posed the questions: "What stories are not being told about the European project? When do stories reflect a cultural synthesis? And stated if we do not have knowledge (research) we cannot draft, criticise, contribute, assess cultural policies and their impact."

Note: the basis presentation was a fully worked out manuscript to be found at: Can EcoCs contribute to a cultural synthesis - Hatto Fischer


11.20 Panel debate
11.40 Conclusion of panel debate and summarisation by moderator

11.50 Coffee break

Panel 4 - Diplomacy through dialogue;

Panel moderator – Prof. Enric Olivé Serret
12.10 Dr. George Cassar (Institute for Tourism Travel and Culture, UoM and Valletta 2018 Foundation Research Coordinating Committee) 

A multicultural, multivariate city – Valletta and its many faces. He explains Valletta's dual character as being both the embodiment of European values & the cradle of Maltese identity.

12.30 Anna Steinkamp (German Commission for UNESCO, responsible for, among other things, monitoring and the implementation of the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity. She focuses as well on the role of youths in cultural development and transnational dialogue, discussing the role of international networks of cultural cooperation & its contribution to the 2005 UNESCO Convention.)

The role of international networks of cultural cooperation and its contribution to the 2005 UNESCO Convention: "Valletta2018 should invest in cultural policy measures and training that impact beyond 2018." Anna Steinkamp focuses on the role of youths in cultural development and transnational dialogue, discussing the role of international networks of cultural cooperation & its contribution to the 2005 UNESCO Convention.

12.50 France Irrmann (Espaceculture Marseille) 

Entre neo-colonialisme et globalisation, quel rôle peut-on encore jouer dans la valorisation de l’expression artistique et culturelle en Méditerranée? "At what level, between local and global, do we position ourselves as European Cultural operators? Is the Euro-Mediterranean region still a relevant dimension to foster our thinking and our actions?"

13.10 Dr. Jason Dittmer (Reader in Human Geography, University College London)

Affect, network building, and Maltese public diplomacy: "Broadcasting diplomacy doesn't involve listening to the Other. Relational forms of public diplomacy seem more ‘of the moment’ given the fragmented media landscape enabled by technology...By shifting from an information-dissemination to network building, foreign ministries can shape trans-Med."

13.30 Conclusion of panel debate and summarisation by moderator

13.40 Concluding remarks, Dr. Karsten Xuereb



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