Bicocca – Fifth Day of the Summer School

Bicocca---Fifth-Day-of-the-Summer-SchoolThe final day of the Summer School comprised a series of seminars that covered the whole day, with a final wrap-up discussion touching upon the themes emerged during the whole week.

The day started with the presentation by Prof Fabio Quassoli, of the University of Milan-Bicocca, on “Governing diversity in Milan: past and present”. He provided an overview of multicultural policies in the city in the last twenty years, highlighting divergences between policy and discourses. He particularly stressed how the current left-wing governing coalition, guided by Pisapia, has marked a turning point from preceding ones although not as strong as it could be expected. While at a discoursive level the promotion of difference is evident, the same cannot be said about actual practices and projects. A specific example was provided in this sense by drawing from his research with Roberta Marzorati, on the Milano World Forum that was created to promote the active participation of migrants to the civic life of the city. While the effort to provide immigrants with a voice must be acknowledged, this instrument appears largely insufficient in its function, with consistent limits in terms of representativeness and actual space for participation, in a city in which one third of the population is of foreign origins but does not hold the right to vote in national elections nor in local ones.

The second presentation was given by Dino Abazović, of the University of Sarajevo, on “Facing the past and its consequences on culture of tolerance”. He critically addressed the issue of the transition of former Yugoslavia by questioning where former Yugoslavia is actually transiting to. While Bosnia is still divided along ethnic lines he pointed to the fact that both the media and politicians have contributed to create further divisions in their memories. In fact, as he suggested, common memory is there but it comes “from below” and generally memory lasts for three or four generations hence it is important to make sure it is valued and passed onto future generations. As far as commemorations are concerned Prof. Abazović argued on the quintessential role of religious leaders, not only as far as memory but also amnesia is concerned, thus pointing to their failure to connect people and their memories. While not all families of victims are pro reconciliation, most of them agree it is time to overcome ethnic divisions in the reconstruction and preservation of their memory. Hence, we should not strive for reconciliation but rather “social reconstruction”. In this context, it is an overarching duty of intellectuals to take position and distance themselves from any monolithic (nationally and ethnically based) re-interpretation of the history of former Yugoslavia and any attempt to impede the construction of a common memory.

The following presentation was held by Prof Jasna Bakšić-Muftić, of the University of Sarajevo on “war and post-war period in Bosnia: lessons and experiences”. In particularly she started from the Dayton peace agreement to then provide examples of how this transformed the conflict into a “legal” battle. An enlightening example relatd to the reconstruction of religious symbols and buildings even on site where they weren’t any prior to the conflict. She concluded by recalling Habermas’ lesson as thought in his work “learning by disaster”, to suggest that the experience of former Yugoslavia brings with it a perfect case as a federal system of multicultural republics for the European Union to learn about citizenship and how we can define it.

In the afternoon, Zlatiborka Pop-Momčinović, of the University of East Sarajevo, gave a presentation on “women in (post) Yugoslav context: struggle over citizenship” and she brought a feminist perspective to the debate, by showing that while some women do hold political positions, feminist related issues are not yet adequately addressed.

Mirjana Mavrak, of the University of Sarajevo and Prof Roberto Moscati, of the University of Milan-Bicocca, focused their presentations on the role of education in the promotion of tolerance, by referring to the respective research works by suggesting some possible directions in intercultural thinking and in particular the importance of teaching pupils and students not just what tolerance in itself it but rather the skills that are needed to be tolerant, including communication and interaction skills, empathy, and the capacity to replace descriptive dichotomies with “polarities”. Roberto Moscati on his side recalled the global framework in which intercultural teaching must now be set and by drawing from Bobbio he argued that the teaching of citizenship is an important yet unfulfilled promise of democracy.

At the end of the seminars certificates were given to participants and lecturers.