Between the Intercultural City Ideal and the Reality of the New Wars

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Rolly Rosen, The Department of Anthropology, Haifa University, Israel


    Founded in 2008 by the Council of Europe, the Intercultural Cities Network “supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realize the diversity advantage”. (ICC, 2018). With 126 member cities, the network does an impressive job trying to promote intercultural guidelines for urban policy in such fields as education, employment, city planning etc. However, this work is being done in an atmosphere that is increasingly tense, influenced by mistrust versus ‘strangers’, a phantasy of closing borders and a discourse of the ‘New Wars’ (Muenkler, 2005). Unlike the ‘old wars’ these do not take place between two armies on the frontlines between two nation states, but rather in urban centers, between the security forces of the state and ‘normal citizens’ who suddenly turn out to be ‘the enemy’ and blow themselves up in terror attacks such as those that happened in Paris, Brussels, London and Berlin in recent years (Appadurai, 2006). Although the number of victims in these wars is rather small, they do have a big influence on public discourse and can cause destabilization and growing distrust among neighbors (Appadurai, 2006). Thus, the intercultural integration and equality discourse, emphasizing the “Diversity Advantage” (ICC, 2017), has to function within the context of the security and new war or ‘Clash of Civilizations’ discourse (Huntington, 1996), emphasizing suspicion, intelligence work and ‘looking out for the enemy’ behind every corner. So how do the two discourses meet? Do they truly contrast each other, as would seem at first glance, or do they perhaps converge in fascinating, complex ways? The paper is based on my PhD research, which follows the glocalization of the Intercultural Cities Network principles in various European Cities in the years 2015-2017. It included interviews with heads of integration departments or mayors in various cities which are members of the ICC, as well as observations in trainings and other meetings held by the network.
    Appadurai, Arjun (2006): Fear of Small Numbers ? An Essay on the Geography of Anger. Duke University Press, Durham and London. Huntington
    Samuel P. (1996): The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order. A Touchstone Book, published by Simon and Schuster
    Muenkler, Herfried (2005): The New Wars. Polity Press, Cambridge.