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Fragmented We Stand

Scritto da Maria Cristina Vannini il 15 Settembre 2019 in Editoriali

 

Rephrasing the famous quote can sketches the picture in which Western world has found itself recently, especially Europe and the Americas.

Since the end of 2016, a wave of political and social fragmentation has been sweeping at least two of the most important continents in the world, giving way to a culture of populist nationalism.

Often people are not aware of the multiple interconnections affecting their lives, impacting on our own happiness and wellbeing. Nor we realise the “butterfly effect” each of these interconnections has on the other around the world.

In their restricted landscapes of the last three years, are the people of these continents happier, freer, richer than they used to be? Do they, do we, have a deep understanding of what make us happy or are we functionally illiterate even about it?

Few, basic items contributing to our happiness and well-being are: freedom and respect of other people’s freedom, work, healthcare, the outcomes of good politics and the effects of stable and growing economics, the possibility of living in a friendly environment, both on a psychological point of view and where the effects of the climate change are limited. Social and societal interactions, safe and affordable mobility, broad and uncensured communication. To which, finally, it can be added what anyone considers to be good.

In an individualistic culture as the Western one has transformed, declaring that anyone can decide what it is good for him/herself can be considered really the base of the fragmentation we are observing recently, the right anyone claims to have not to homologate or not to be submitted to the law and common rules: “one is one” is the claim that anticipate “first my people”.

What kind of culture is generated by all this? And what have brought us here? Will the Western world return to dystopic tribal cultures as imagined in Blade Runner already at the beginning of the ‘80s of last century?

What do museums and cultural institutions do in this context? Despite the social impact museums and cultural project had in the Eastern Countries of Europe, contributing to mending as much as they could the wound left by conflicts and wars, in some cases and in some countries the work they made to reconstruct the identity of their country after the deflagration of the Soviet Union block could be seen as a contribution to the people’ sentiments that brought identitarianism to turn into nationalism; renown “participatory museums” of the US have had little impact in contrasting the outburst of the return of racial tensions, or the democratic museums of UK and the tons of cultural projects often liberally funded with EU money had no impact in limiting the desire of standing alone, especially in the wide “rural belly” of England.

Nevertheless, culture and cultural projects are there, at hand’s length, for everyone who want to enjoy it. But then, there is really the need to change the museum definition? culture is just a product, an exportable good one can move around as in a parade or to show as the star of the circus?

Even if this is the case, let’s make things properly providing the bedrock to facilitate and improve the circulation of cultural goods, people and ideas. Maybe, if accessibility is easier either in production and in consumption, impact might be less fragmented.  

The fact that for more than seventy years the European continent has been said not to have been crossed by wars – but we all still remember or we will do so the Balcan war and more recently the Donbass conflict – should help us concentrate on the importance culture can have on geopolitics and diplomacy. And how much this can be implemented by a unitarian direction such as it was with the role culture had in most of the 2014-2019 European Commission Project Teams.

During the last five years, Europe has learnt to recognise the transversal importance of culture in different sectors, especially following the publication of  “Towards an EU Strategy of international cultural relations” issued in 2016 by the previous High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Despite this, though, we have faced the raise of the phenomena depicted above, that is why it should be auspicable that the newly installed President of the European Commission, Ms. Von der Leyen, will reinstate Culture among the founding pillars of her mandate.

 

 

 

 

 

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