Universes in Universe / Specials / Identities versus Globalisation?

International Cultural Conference "Identities Versus Globalization?"
(Information by the Heinrich Boell Foundation)

Opening Discussion:
20 January 2005, 17:30 - 21:00 h
Theatre, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures), Berlin

21/22 January 2005, 9:30 _ 18:30/18:00 h
Theatre, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

Information and Contact:
Andrea Peschel, andrea@boell-brussels.org, Tel +49.30.400 48 482, Fax +49.30.417 23 395

Registration: Send an E-Mail to IvG-Konferenz@boell.de, or a fax to +49-30-28534-109

Conference fee: 15,00 Euro, reduced 8,00 Euro. Please transfer the fee to the Heinrich Boell Foundation’s bank account, acc. No: 30 76 701 at: Bank f. Sozialwirtschaft, bank routing code: 100 205 00, purpose (required): IVG-Konferenz . The conference fee can also be paid upon entry to the conference.


Opening Discussion on the Evening of 20 January 2005
In Cooperation with the German UNESCO Commission

17:30 Registration

18:00 - 18:15 Welcome
Barbara Unmüßig, Board, Heinrich Böll Foundation

18:15 - 20:00 Opening Panel Discussion
Culture: Commodity or Public Good?
The Convention on the Protection of Cultural Diversity prepared by UNESCO raises the questions: What can and should be protected and what not, and who decides what is worth protecting and what is not? How could worldwide standards be developed? How could these be applied in view of the different stages (and conditions) of development of the various countries and regions at present? The "area of application" will be discussed, as well as the question of how effective a future convention can realistically be. What other options exist to actively promote and support cultural diversity beyond a convention?
In addition, the need for regulation in the sector of cultural services/audiovisual media will be discussed in light of bi- and multilateral free trade agreements. To what extent can culture isolate itself? How legitimate are national cultural policies for the protection of specific national cultural content and values?
Between the currently incompatible demands of France on the one hand and the USA on the other, it is also essential to present the positions of countries such as New Zealand or Korea.

Ivan Bernier
Professor of Law, Université Laval/Canada

Julian Nida-Rümelin
Professor for Political Theory and Philosophy, University of Munich, Former Minister of State for Media and Cultural Affairs

Peter Shannon
Chairman, New Zealand Coalition for Cultural Diversity, NZ Musician Union

Moderation: Christine M. Merkel
German UNESCO Commission, Head of Cultural Division

20:00 Opening of the exhibit "Ici et Maintenant", Photography by Gilbert Hage, Lebanon. Gilbert Hage will be present


21 January 2005 9:30 - 18:30

9:00 Registration

9:30 Welcome
Barbara Unmüßig

9:45 - 10:15 Keynote Speech
Lydia Haustein
Professor in Cultural Studies, Kunsthochschule Weißensee, Berlin
"Cultural Globalization: Opportunity or Threat for Cultural Identity?"

10:15 - 11:45 Panel 1
Cultural Globalization: Opportunity or Threat for Cultural Identity?
A Regional Comparison

- What is understood by "cultural globalization" in different regions (e.g. Europe, Southeast Asia, the Arab Middle East), and what are regarded as its opportunities or risks?
- How are cultural identities developed today, and do the homogenizing dynamics of globalization represent a real threat to them in view of the constantly changing nature of culture and cultural identity? Or does it promote the development or more distinct crystallization of cultural identities as a projection surface and system of reference?
- Just as economic globalization is spreading, rapid cultural mingling and intermixing can be seen worldwide. Does this result in loss of identity and blurring of contours, or does it instead give rise to a search for and examination of what is "authentic," unique, representative of a particular identity? The consequences of this search, this return to specific, traditional characteristics, practices and values can on the one hand lead to the strengthening or recovery of cultural identity or, on the other hand, to isolation and can serve as the basis for separatist or cultural relativistic argumentation.
- It is also questionable whether what is agreed upon as "authentic" is in fact integrated or only temporarily consumed - both within a cultural community and from the outside.

Joost Smiers,
Director, Centre for Research at the Utrecht School of Arts. Professor in the Political Science of the Arts, Utrecht School of Arts, Netherlands

Farah Wardani
Editor of the Art Magazine "Carbon" and close affiliate of the Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Ammar Abdulhamid (invited)
Author, social analyst, director, Al Tharwa Project, Syria

Lydia Haustein
Professor in Cultural Studies, Kunsthochschule Weißensee, Berlin

Moderation: Layla Al Zubaidi,
Heinrich Boell Foundation Middle East Office, Lebanon

11:45 - 12:15 Coffee Break

12:15 - 13:45 Discussion / Film Presentation
Nollywood: The New Film Industry in Nigeria
Axel Harneit-Sievers (Director, Heinrich Böll Foundation Lagos) in a conversation with Kabat Esosa Egbon (Producer, film director, Nigeria)Matthias Heeder (author, producer and director of documentaries)

Presentation of Film Clips
A vibrant new film industry has emerged in Nigeria since the 1990s. After the collapse of the classical cinema houses, the new film industry concentrates on digitally-produced movies. They are often called "home videos", but are shown in public locations as well; they are marketed internationally, and even transmitted on digital satellite TV throughout Africa. Nigerian movies are extremely popular, not only in Nigeria itself; currently, 10-15 new movies appear on the market every fortnight. They follow a peculiar aesthetic approach, markedly different from the Hollywood standards that African audiences are well accustomed to. The industry has developed independently, without public financial support, and has created its own structures of finance, production and marketing. It operates under severe constraints of finance and time, and with its market under permanent threat by copyright infringement on a large scale.

"Nollywood", as the new Nigerian film industry is fondly called, illustrates how homogenisation brought about by globalization (in this case, the availability of inexpensive technology for production, distribution, and display) and cultural blending leads to the development of innovative and dynamic cultural forms and processes in parts of the world where you do not always expect them.

13:45 - 14:45 Lunch Break

14:45 - 15:15 Cultural Globalization and Democratization - Keynote speech
Angela McRobbie,
Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths College, University of London
"Post-feminism in popular culture"

15:15 - 16:30 Panel 2
Cultural Globalization and Democratization
What impact does cultural globalization have with respect to democratization? Does it promote worldwide democratization, or is it only applicable to a relatively small group of people who have regular access to digital media? What is the situation with regard to the democratizing tendency of globalization in societies where cultural homogenization and hybridization are perceived predominantly as a threat? By means of examples from three/four regions we will examine if and to what extent the hybridization and homogenization of culture result in more transparency, more public participation, and the disintegration of traditional structures and hierarchies. Examples: Women in the media in the Arab Middle East; examples from Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe.
Christa Salamandra
Ass. Professor of Anthropology, Lehmann College, City University of New York

Jun Yu Kang
Green Film Festival, Seoul, Korea

Angela McRobbie,
Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Moderation: Barbara Unmmüßig, Member of Executive Board, Heinrich Boell Foundation

16:30 - 17:00 Break

17:00 - 18:30
„Wandering Moon Performing Group", Shadow Theatre, Thailand (art. director: Monthatip Suksapa), perform „The Butterfly". The butterfly and the metamorphosis of the larva symbolizes the inequality between women and men, the strength and fragility of women.
In addition, a recording of Ly Hoang Ly’s performance "Monument of Round Trays" at the opening of the exhibition "Identities versus Globalization?" in Thailand will be shown. The monument and performance can be seen as a depiction of the inner conflict that Vietnamese Women struggle with faced with tradition, the potential for more personal choice and the pain of self-liberation.

Question & Answer Session / Discussion with artists and audience
Moderation: Heike Löschmann, Director, Heinrich Boell Foundation South East Asia


22 January 2005, Day 2 9:30 - 17:30 h

9:00 Registration

9:30 - 11:30 Panel 3:
On the Ability of the "Parallel Language" of Art to Engage in the Political Process
Just as globalization processes have by now reached all people of every social stratum in extremely different, highly ambivalent ways, artists throughout the world are also responding to a development which can no longer be halted but can and must be influenced. It is particularly the new electronic media, which transport "globalization" and reach the entire globe most efficiently and quickly with their world of images and signals, and are able to transform and broaden human visual and knowledge horizons at an unprecedented speed. Because of their exceptional perceptiveness, artists are among the best and most acute observers and analysts of these rapid changes. Although contemporary art cannot formulate concrete policy, with its diverse means of articulation it can draw attention to circumstances/deplorable conditions – often earlier than official policy - and thus increase awareness of old and new problem constellations and mobilize alternative thinking.

Key Questions:
- What can art contribute to political discourse? Where does its socially creative, innovative potential lie? How can art, as a critical participant in the globalization discourse, give impetus to democratic and civil society development?
- Is art particularly suited to expressing the reality of discontinuities, the simultaneity of different areas and time zones, the similarity of the most complex dissimilarity in its irresolvable contradiction, and thus make paradoxes productive?
- Is art most effective where it boldly crosses traditional lines of demarcation to science, politics and everyday life (see "crossover" of the arts as new structural principle)? Does the "artificiality" of art undermine its credibility, or does it offer a bridge of rapprochement, of mutual perception and acceptance?
- There have long been universal image codes in the world of merchandising. How universal is the Western-dominated concept of "art" and "esthetics"?
- How compatible is the idea of trans- and intercultural blending and "hybridization" with the categories of a nation state and its clearly defined borders? Can the contradiction between an artistic/transnational identity and nationally defined political identity be resolved?

Pierre Abi-Saab
Founder and Chief Editor of Zawaya magazine, Lebanon

Sarat Maharaj (invited),
Professor in History of Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London, Co-Curator Documenta X
Chumpon Apisuk
Artist and AIDS/human rights activist, Thailand

Binyavanga Wainaina
Writer, author, Founding Editor and Executive Director of Kwani? magazine, Kenya

Moderation: Heike Löschmann
Director, Heinrich Böll Foundation South East Asia Office, Thailand

11:30 - 12:00 Coffee Break

12:00 - 13:00 Keynote Speech and Audience Discussion:
Nuruddin Farah (invited), Novelist, Somalia
Topic: Presenting Art - Representing Culture(s). Approaches to Postnational Narratives

13:00-14:00 Lunch Break

14:00 - 16:00 Concluding Panel:
Presenting Art - Representing Culture(s). Approaches to Postnational Narratives
Multiculturalism, interculturality, transculturality, hybridity - catchwords in the ongoing debate on globalization that have become social "hype" signal a worldwide tendency toward the elimination of self-contained concepts and categories such as nation, identity, homogeneity, authenticity, originality. In fact, there are many reasons to caution against risks and threats to the continued existence and further development of the infinite diversity of cultures and traditions and to develop various strategies for their preservation. Such a position calls for more than mere criticism of the ideology of globalism, which has degenerated to the esthetic preference of economically privileged cultural eclectics and their fashionable opinions on taste. On the contrary, it claims for itself the right to differ from the uniformity of the ostensibly intercultural and hybrid. The diverse paths to coexistence on equal terms of (globalized) modernity and pre- or postmodernity can be found only through compromises of approach and distance, not as a result of hierarchically structured, dominant classification systems, but self-determined. For the perception of art and culture this means continuing to come up against the limits of what can be understood and integrated without "translation."

Key Questions:
- Is it possible to make the cultural borderland between proximity out of interest and understanding and, on the other hand, distance in acknowledgement of the never fully understandable "Other" a key, productive topic for art and culture?
- The cultural memory of art - a civilizational constant or "old hat"?
- To what extent are artists able and do they want to represent the culture of a particular nation or even region, without ethnicizing themselves or the "Other" or thus serving only the "ethnomarketing" of the allegedly "authentic" (as a "hybrid," incidentally)?
- What advantages and disadvantages do nationally and regionally oriented art exhibitions have compared with exhibitions of works by artists from all over the world, whose origins are not made an issue?
- Globalization as a catalyst for new alliances, interactions and alternative social models?

Alia Rayyan (invited),
Editor, Bidoun Magazine, cultural manager, journalist

Ulrike Kremeier
Curator, Plattform, Berlin

Ranjit Hoskote
Cultural theorist, poet and
independent curator of contemporary art, India

Atta Kwami
Artist, Senior Lecturer, College of Art, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

Moderation: NN

16:00 - 16:30 Coffee Break

16:30 - 18:30 Film "Osuofia in London", Nigeria, 2003
Director : Kingsley Ogoro
Original version in English, ca. 95 min
Introduction: Axel Harneit-Sievers (Director, Heinrich Böll Foundation Nigeria) and Kabat Esosa Egbon (Producer, film director, Nigeria)


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