ALDA Governing Board’s commitment to sustainability at the AUTREMENT project

On Wednesday 27 January 2021, the conference on the AUTREMENT Project (Urban Territorial Development to Reinvent Mobility and Engage Tunisians) took place in Kairouan (Tunisia), live-streamed on the Autrement Facebook Page – Sustainable Mobility and Citizen Participation in Tunisia.  One member of ALDA’s Board of Directors, Mr Didier Duboisset, who works for the local authority Pays Vichy-Auvergne, joined the event welcoming the implementation of this project and encouraging all members and stakeholders for the successful completion of the project itself.

During his speech, Mr Didier Duboisset highlighted an example of a concrete project implemented in his municipality. In this case, European funds were used to mobilise the young section of the population, from teenagers to young parents, as far as soft and sustainable mobility projects concern. the aim was yo change the habits of these people around the use of cars and to raise their awareness on the use of more ecological and sustainable means of transport.

Going towards sustainable urban development with the AUTREMENT project

Mr Duboisset’s commitment is fully in line with the spirit of the AUTREMENT project, launched on 1st June 2020 in the continuation of the decentralised cooperation between the Strasbourg Municipality and the municipalities of Kairouan and Mahdia in Tunisia. The project focuses on promoting sustainable urban development; while improving inhabitants’ quality of life, as well as their economic and tourist attractiveness. The development of active mobility, such as cycling; the implementation of dedicated urban developments, and the strengthening of citizen participation in local governance are some key aspects designed to reach the above-mentioned aims.

Finally, this project aims at creating synergies in the region of Kairouan and Mahdia and even beyond the Tunisian borders.

On Wednesday 27 January 2021, the conference on the AUTREMENT Project (Urban Territorial Development to Reinvent Mobility and Engage Tunisians) took place in Kairouan (Tunisia), live-streamed on the Autrement Facebook Page – Sustainable Mobility and Citizen Participation in Tunisia.  One member of ALDA’s Board of Directors, Mr Didier Duboisset, who works for the local authority Pays Vichy-Auvergne, joined the event welcoming the implementation of this project and encouraging all members and stakeholders for the successful completion of the project itself.

During his speech, Mr Didier Duboisset highlighted an example of a concrete project implemented in his municipality. In this case, European funds were used to mobilise the young section of the population, from teenagers to young parents, as far as soft and sustainable mobility projects concern. the aim was yo change the habits of these people around the use of cars and to raise their awareness on the use of more ecological and sustainable means of transport.

Going towards sustainable urban development with the AUTREMENT project

Mr Duboisset’s commitment is fully in line with the spirit of the AUTREMENT project, launched on 1st June 2020 in the continuation of the decentralised cooperation between the Strasbourg Municipality and the municipalities of Kairouan and Mahdia in Tunisia. The project focuses on promoting sustainable urban development; while improving inhabitants’ quality of life, as well as their economic and tourist attractiveness. The development of active mobility, such as cycling; the implementation of dedicated urban developments, and the strengthening of citizen participation in local governance are some key aspects designed to reach the above-mentioned aims.

Finally, this project aims at creating synergies in the region of Kairouan and Mahdia and even beyond the Tunisian borders.


An innovation wave in the Mediterranean area with MYSEA

How to give an innovative boost to social inclusion, fight against poverty, youth and women employment in the Mediterranean area?

This will be possible, thanks to MY SEA, a ground-breaking project, launched on October 15th, 2020 and running until April 2023, supported by the ENI CBC MED programme of the European Union.

Standing for “Mediterranean Youth, NEETs and women advancing Skills, Employment and Awareness in the blue and green economy” – MY SEA is a project led by CIES Onlus and implemented in partnership with organisations from Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and Greece.

A ground-breaking project fostering social inclusion and employability

The project will implement activities in Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Greece and Italy in order to promote social inclusion and fight against poverty, improve the employment of youth (18-24) and women, as well as NEETs (“Not in Education, nor in Employment, or Training” up to 30 years old) in the agricultural waste management sectors.

To do so, MYSEA will develop trainings oriented to both sectors, empower local governance as well as the alliance and the exchange of competences among stakeholders from the economic sector and technical and professional training institutions (TVET) with the aim of improving compatibility between curricula and professional requirements.

The first milestone of the project will be an online press conference, planned on February 2nd, 2021, more details about which will be disclosed soon. Meanwhile, to get further information about the project’s activities, outputs and outcomes you can visit MYSEA website or write to mysea.communication@cies.it 

How to give an innovative boost to social inclusion, fight against poverty, youth and women employment in the Mediterranean area?

This will be possible, thanks to MY SEA, a ground-breaking project, launched on October 15th, 2020 and running until April 2023, supported by the ENI CBC MED programme of the European Union.

Standing for “Mediterranean Youth, NEETs and women advancing Skills, Employment and Awareness in the blue and green economy” – MY SEA is a project led by CIES Onlus and implemented in partnership with organisations from Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and Greece.

A ground-breaking project fostering social inclusion and employability

The project will implement activities in Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Greece and Italy in order to promote social inclusion and fight against poverty, improve the employment of youth (18-24) and women, as well as NEETs (“Not in Education, nor in Employment, or Training” up to 30 years old) in the agricultural waste management sectors.

To do so, MYSEA will develop trainings oriented to both sectors, empower local governance as well as the alliance and the exchange of competences among stakeholders from the economic sector and technical and professional training institutions (TVET) with the aim of improving compatibility between curricula and professional requirements.

The first milestone of the project will be an online press conference, planned on February 2nd, 2021, more details about which will be disclosed soon. Meanwhile, to get further information about the project’s activities, outputs and outcomes you can visit MYSEA website or write to mysea.communication@cies.it 


ALDA’s new strategic plan takes off after the four regional webinars

ALDA’s new path towards a wider spread of good governance’s principles and a deeper regional impact has officially started, thanks to the 4 online discussions to share our strategic views with local stakeholders.

These events took place between the 7th and the 21st December with the aim of unfolding ALDA’s new Strategic Plan for 2020-2024 adopted during the General Assembly of October to increase the impact and scope of our action, at the occasion of ALDA’s 20th anniversary.

ALDA is not slowing down: despite the restrictions on movements, we stayed close to our members and we maintain a positive look on the future – underlined ALDA’s Vice-President, Mr Alessandro Perelli during the meeting on the Mediterranean area – We believe our work consists in promoting shared values of democracy, active citizenship and equal opportunities also, but not only, in African and Middle Eastern countries.”

Decentralization, subsidiarity and citizens’ participation are still the core of our strategy.

This represents an important milestone for the whole Association: after 20 years of activity and a network which has consistently grown, especially in the last decade, ALDA is now ready to expand its area of action, and this is happening in a historical moment where acting at the community level is a key priority to assure the sustainability of our communities. As also pointed out by Mrs Natasa Vuckovic, member of ALDA Governing Board, “next year is going to be a crucial year and the role of ALDA will be greater and more important than ever, mostly because of the pandemic, which has deepened the need of citizens to which ALDA offers services and different kinds of supports.

 

All in all, the 4 webinars saw a good participation of members and partners, curious not only to discover the new priorities for 2020-2024, but also to start paving the way to future projects and collaborations according to such a strategy and our common goals.

With a specific regional focus, each webinar involved local stakeholders and members of ALDA’s new Governing Board active in the area of discussion.

 

We are dedicated to EU values and this is strategic for us. We are working on decentralization, subsidiarity and citizens’ participation. This is still the core of our strategy”, highlighted ALDA President Mr Oriano Otočan during the first webinar focusing on Europe.

 

Moreover, ALDA’s Governing Board members contributed with precious insights and inputs, proving once again their deep commitment in being active actors in the implementation of the new strategic views.  “As a person who comes from the Western Balkans region, – stated the newly elected Governing Board member Mr Emir Coric –I think I can and I will help ALDA in increasing the cooperation with local authorities and I will directly support those municipalities in implementing good governance principles and citizens participation”.

From this moment onwards, the work to make this plan real has begun, but what is more important is to keep nourishing the conversation with our members and partners, reason why we encourage everyone to get in touch with us to join our mission, a shared mission.

 

ALDA’s new path towards a wider spread of good governance’s principles and a deeper regional impact has officially started, thanks to the 4 online discussions to share our strategic views with local stakeholders.

These events took place between the 7th and the 21st December with the aim of unfolding ALDA’s new Strategic Plan for 2020-2024 adopted during the General Assembly of October to increase the impact and scope of our action, at the occasion of ALDA’s20th anniversary.

ALDA is not slowing down: despite the restrictions on movements, we stayed close to our members and we maintain a positive look on the future – underlined ALDA’s Vice-President, Mr Alessandro Perelli during the meeting on the Mediterranean area – We believe our work consists in promoting shared values of democracy, active citizenship and equal opportunities also, but not only, in African and Middle Eastern countries.”

Decentralization, subsidiarity and citizens’ participation are still the core of our strategy.

This represents an important milestone for the whole Association: after 20 years of activity and a network which has consistently grown, especially in the last decade, ALDA is now ready to expand its area of action, and this is happening in a historical moment where acting at the community level is a key priority to assure the sustainability of our communities. As also pointed out by Mrs NatasaVuckovic, member of ALDA Governing Board, “next year is going to be a crucial year and the role of ALDA will be greater and more important than ever, mostly because of the pandemic, which has deepened the need of citizens to which ALDA offers services and different kinds of supports.

All in all, the 4 webinars saw a good participation of members and partners, curious not only to discover the new priorities for 2020-2024, but also to start paving the way to future projects and collaborations according to such a strategy and our common goals.

With a specific regional focus, each webinar involved local stakeholders and members of ALDA’s new Governing Board active in the area of discussion.

 

We are dedicated to EU values and this is strategic for us. We are working on decentralization, subsidiarity and citizens’ participation. This is still the core of our strategy”, highlighted ALDA President MrOrianoOtočan during the first webinar focusing on Europe.

 

Moreover, ALDA’s Governing Board members contributed with precious insights and inputs, proving once again their deep commitment in being active actors in the implementation of the new strategic views.  “As a person who comes from the Western Balkans region, – stated the newly elected Governing Board member Mr Emir Coric –I think I can and I will help ALDA in increasing the cooperation with local authorities and I will directly support those municipalities in implementing good governance principles and citizens participation”.

From this moment onwards, the work to make this plan real has begun, but what is more important is to keep nourishing the conversation with our members and partners, reason why we encourage everyone to get in touch with us to join our mission, a shared mission.

 


Mind Inclusion 2.0 celebrated the International Day of People with Disabilities

On the 2nd and 3rd of December 2020, the project Mind Inclusion 2.0, funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission, organised a series of events to celebrate the official closure of the project and present the numerous results produced during the past 2 years.

It was not a chance that the event took place on December 3rd, being the International Day of People with Disabilities: a perfect recurrence to draw the attention on the daily challenges faced by people with disabilities, especially in this period.

Indeed, Mind Inclusion 2.0 aims at finding sustainable and inclusive solutions to help caregivers improving their skills and allowing disabled individuals to actively participate to the social life of their community.

 

"A digital APP to help disabled people to access public spaces and exercise their rights"

 

The abovementioned webinars saw the participation of great speakers and experts who animated interesting and enriching debates around 3 topics: the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, the vision of youth about disability and inclusive technology and, last but not least, the link between digital and people with disabilities.

We would like to warmly thank all the participants and panelists who contributed to the success of this 2 days online event:

All the online conferences also served to present and disseminate the main output of the project, namely a digital APP conceived to help people with disabilities to have access to public spaces and to exercise their rights.

Mind Inclusion 2.0 is a project lead by Margherita: Società Cooperativa Onlus (Italy) together with Polibienestar Research Institute, INTRAS Foundation (Spain), Social IT Software & Consulting Srl (Italy), Lietuvos sutrikusio intelekto zmoniu globos bendrija «Viltis» (Lithuania) and ALDA (France).

If you wish to know more about the project, you can contact the project manager, Andrea Giaretta at: europacoop@cooperativamargherita.org

On the 2nd and 3rd of December 2020, the project Mind Inclusion 2.0, funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission, organised a series of events to celebrate the official closure of the project and present the numerous results produced during the past 2 years.

It was not a chance that the event took place on December 3rd, being the International Day of People with Disabilities: a perfect recurrence to draw the attention on the daily challenges faced by people with disabilities, especially in this period.

Indeed, Mind Inclusion 2.0 aims at finding sustainable and inclusive solutions to help caregivers improving their skills and allowing disabled individuals to actively participate to the social life of their community.

 

"A digital APP to help disabled people to access public spaces and exercise their rights."

The abovementioned webinars saw the participation of great speakers and experts who animated interesting and enriching debates around 3 topics: the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, the vision of youth about disability and inclusive technology and, last but not least, the link between digital and people with disabilities.

We would like to warmly thank all the participants and panelists who contributed to the success of this 2 days online event:

All the online conferences also served to present and disseminate the main output of the project, namely a digital APP conceived to help people with disabilities to have access to public spaces and to exercise their rights.

Mind Inclusion 2.0 is a project lead by Margherita: Società Cooperativa Onlus (Italy) together with Polibienestar Research Institute, INTRAS Foundation (Spain), Social IT Software & Consulting Srl (Italy), Lietuvos sutrikusio intelekto zmoniu globos bendrija «Viltis» (Lithuania) and ALDA (France).

If you wish to know more about the project, you can contact the project manager, Andrea Giaretta at: europacoop@cooperativamargherita.org


All cultural heritage belongs to each of us

An interview with Sanja Ivanovska Velkoska, archaeologist and conservator in the National Center for conservation of Skopje, interviewed by Ana Frangovska, art historian and curator

 

Sanja Ivanovska Velkoska is a PhD in archaeology, employed in the National Center for conservation in Skopje. As an expert in the field of archaeology and conservation she has considerable experience as an external consultant for other institutions and sites for protection of cultural heritage. Mrs Ivanovska Velkoska wrote a lot of scientific papers, participated in many scientific conferences and was on a scientific residency in Belgrade, Serbia and Lund, Sweden. Her wide knowledge in protection of cultural heritage in theory and practice makes her an excellent interlocutor on the issues related to shared or contested heritage.

What is heritage, how does it work and what does it mean for people with different backgrounds?

Sanja: The material and cultural values we inherited from our ancestors and their ancestors are what should be called cultural heritage. Unfortunately, its interpretation in different environments is often characterised with contrasting content.

Do you think that heritage institutions should be more inclusive or exclusive? Is it important to be clear about whose stories are being presented, by whom and for which purposes? Some practices point towards an inclusive approach through the restructuration of institutions and the fostering of supportive leadership. What do you think about this approach?

Sanja: If we want the general population to know what cultural heritage is and to nurture and preserve it unconditionally, then the institutions must make it easier to access and promote it more and in a suitable manner among the wide public. The reasons for presenting cultural heritage are not important at all because it should not be owned at all.

Do you engage in cross-border cooperation with professionals from Greece and Bulgaria and do you find any difficulties in its realisation?

Sanja: In the past, we had a greater institutional cooperation with many neighbouring countries, but that practice has slowly been declining in the last eight years. This is not due to any policies, but is a result of the extremely poor management of the institution in which I work. On a personal level, contacts with colleagues are maintained regularly. Even at my own expense, in my free time I establish connections with countries with which we have not cooperated so far. But all work remains based on a personal incentive or at the level of a small interdisciplinary group that has the idea to bring new techniques, technologies and methods of cultural heritage management from all aspects (pertaining to research work, conservation/restoration, presentation and popularisation).

We do have heritage that can evoke different – sometimes difficult or competing – views and emotions, depending on the approach and viewpoint. The challenge of dealing with such divergence lies in the attempt to simultaneously convey these different views and voices when presenting this heritage to the public. Do you agree and do you think that this is an essential task when dealing with heritage and histories that speak to different people in different ways?

Sanja: Yes, it is in practice, but it should not be. Cultural heritage must never have ethnic, religious, gender or any other contextual framework. On the contrary, I believe that all cultural heritage belongs to each of us, a part of our past and affects our present and future.

Can you think of an example of a case study of shared or contested heritage related to your particular field of interest (ethno-music, history, archaeology, contemporary art, art history etc.) and how would you approach its presentation?

Sanja: As a SIDA Fellow winner, I participated in an advanced training program on Conservation and Management of Historic Buildings at Lund University in Lund, Sweden, where I presented my case study on “Conservation and Presentation of the South Gate of the Archaeological Site Skopje fortress”. The approach at that time was guided by the principles of Europa Nostra, which have been observed and applied in my professional work regarding the integral protection of archaeological sites as cultural heritage.

"Cultural heritage should be treated as a precious accomplishment of people’s creativity of a certain time"

What is the impact of cultural heritage on solving issues related with shared or contested heritage?

Sanja: In practice, none. Theorists can find many points of contact and influences, but the operative is aware that in practice in our country it is just a dead letter on paper.

How we choose to remember the past and how we choose to move forward are the critical issues of today. What does cultural heritage mean in different national and regional contexts? Who can claim it as theirs, and who decides how it is preserved, displayed, or restored? How to share cultural heritage?

Sanja: The meanings are not as important as the approach and the attitude towards cultural heritage. We are aware that cultural heritage as a category of culture is always on the margins in our country. All efforts to amend that are still in the making, while in practice it is shown that various irrelevant populist manifestations receive more publicity, and thus more funds than any project for the protection of cultural heritage.

No one can say that a piece of cultural heritage belongs to someone, unless they personally inherited it from their parents. What we as a society care about belongs to all of us.Popularisation is the most important way to share the value of cultural heritage, and thus to increase interest in it. In a popular existence, any cultural heritage is much easier to manage and can even be made self-sustaining.

“What signifies the national narratives are that they do not include layers; they are one-sided, often chronological and has a sense of a fixed, static, historical truth, about them”, said Anderson in 1991. Do you agree with this citation and why?

Sanja: Unfortunately, this is often the case. However, there are occasional attempts to integrate the cultural heritage, which comprehensively analyses the problems, and hence the reactions to action are interdisciplinary. I repeat, this is very rare, but so far it has proven to be a successful practice. And as long as we keep treating cultural heritage from only one aspect, we will never come up with nearly ideal solutions.

When we discuss about shared or contested heritage the issue of time is essential, and in extreme cases of recent turmoil, the best method for reconciliation might not be to address the past as individually relatable; but rather that the past should hopefully remain in the past. Do you think that this can be implemented into our context?

Sanja: Yes, of course it can.

Do you think that the realm of words can influence the way the audience read the stories related to heritage (shared or contested)?

Sanja: Yes, I think so. As long as we use rich and cumbersome vocabulary with professional terms in cultural heritage stories, our target group will be the only group of people who can understand us. Those who do understand us are usually part of our professional circles or colleagues. In that case, we have completely missed the goal for popularisation of cultural heritage.

***

The interview is conducted within the framework of the project “Shared or contested heritage”, implemented by ALDA Skopje and Forum ZFD. The aim of the project is to improve cross-border cooperation between North Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. The project raises awareness of the role of contested histories and shared cultural heritage for the EU integration processes among heritage practitioners and cultural workers. The content of the interview is the sole responsibility of the interviewee and does not always reflect the views and attitudes of ALDA and Forum ZFD.

An interview with Sanja Ivanovska Velkoska, archaeologist and conservator in the National Center for conservation of Skopje, interviewed by Ana Frangovska, art historian and curator

 

Sanja Ivanovska Velkoska is a PhD in archaeology, employed in the National Center for conservation in Skopje. As an expert in the field of archaeology and conservation she has considerable experience as an external consultant for other institutions and sites for protection of cultural heritage. Mrs Ivanovska Velkoska wrote a lot of scientific papers, participated in many scientific conferences and was on a scientific residency in Belgrade, Serbia and Lund, Sweden. Her wide knowledge in protection of cultural heritage in theory and practice makes her an excellent interlocutor on the issues related to shared or contested heritage.

What is heritage, how does it work and what does it mean for people with different backgrounds?

Sanja: The material and cultural values we inherited from our ancestors and their ancestors are what should be called cultural heritage. Unfortunately, its interpretation in different environments is often characterised with contrasting content.

Do you think that heritage institutions should be more inclusive or exclusive? Is it important to be clear about whose stories are being presented, by whom and for which purposes? Some practices point towards an inclusive approach through the restructuration of institutions and the fostering of supportive leadership. What do you think about this approach?

Sanja: If we want the general population to know what cultural heritage is and to nurture and preserve it unconditionally, then the institutions must make it easier to access and promote it more and in a suitable manner among the wide public. The reasons for presenting cultural heritage are not important at all because it should not be owned at all.

Do you engage in cross-border cooperation with professionals from Greece and Bulgaria and do you find any difficulties in its realisation?

Sanja: In the past, we had a greater institutional cooperation with many neighbouring countries, but that practice has slowly been declining in the last eight years. This is not due to any policies, but is a result of the extremely poor management of the institution in which I work. On a personal level, contacts with colleagues are maintained regularly. Even at my own expense, in my free time I establish connections with countries with which we have not cooperated so far. But all work remains based on a personal incentive or at the level of a small interdisciplinary group that has the idea to bring new techniques, technologies and methods of cultural heritage management from all aspects (pertaining to research work, conservation/restoration, presentation and popularisation).

We do have heritage that can evoke different – sometimes difficult or competing – views and emotions, depending on the approach and viewpoint. The challenge of dealing with such divergence lies in the attempt to simultaneously convey these different views and voices when presenting this heritage to the public. Do you agree and do you think that this is an essential task when dealing with heritage and histories that speak to different people in different ways?

Sanja: Yes, it is in practice, but it should not be. Cultural heritage must never have ethnic, religious, gender or any other contextual framework. On the contrary, I believe that all cultural heritage belongs to each of us, a part of our past and affects our present and future.

Can you think of an example of a case study of shared or contested heritage related to your particular field of interest (ethno-music, history, archaeology, contemporary art, art history etc.) and how would you approach its presentation?

Sanja: As a SIDA Fellow winner, I participated in an advanced training program on Conservation and Management of Historic Buildings at Lund University in Lund, Sweden, where I presented my case study on “Conservation and Presentation of the South Gate of the Archaeological Site Skopje fortress”. The approach at that time was guided by the principles of Europa Nostra, which have been observed and applied in my professional work regarding the integral protection of archaeological sites as cultural heritage.

"Cultural heritage should be treated as a precious accomplishment of people’s creativity of a certain time"

What is the impact of cultural heritage on solving issues related with shared or contested heritage?

Sanja: In practice, none. Theorists can find many points of contact and influences, but the operative is aware that in practice in our country it is just a dead letter on paper.

How we choose to remember the past and how we choose to move forward are the critical issues of today. What does cultural heritage mean in different national and regional contexts? Who can claim it as theirs, and who decides how it is preserved, displayed, or restored? How to share cultural heritage?

Sanja: The meanings are not as important as the approach and the attitude towards cultural heritage. We are aware that cultural heritage as a category of culture is always on the margins in our country. All efforts to amend that are still in the making, while in practice it is shown that various irrelevant populist manifestations receive more publicity, and thus more funds than any project for the protection of cultural heritage.

No one can say that a piece of cultural heritage belongs to someone, unless they personally inherited it from their parents. What we as a society care about belongs to all of us.Popularisation is the most important way to share the value of cultural heritage, and thus to increase interest in it. In a popular existence, any cultural heritage is much easier to manage and can even be made self-sustaining.

“What signifies the national narratives are that they do not include layers; they are one-sided, often chronological and has a sense of a fixed, static, historical truth, about them”, said Anderson in 1991. Do you agree with this citation and why?

Sanja: Unfortunately, this is often the case. However, there are occasional attempts to integrate the cultural heritage, which comprehensively analyses the problems, and hence the reactions to action are interdisciplinary. I repeat, this is very rare, but so far it has proven to be a successful practice. And as long as we keep treating cultural heritage from only one aspect, we will never come up with nearly ideal solutions.

When we discuss about shared or contested heritage the issue of time is essential, and in extreme cases of recent turmoil, the best method for reconciliation might not be to address the past as individually relatable; but rather that the past should hopefully remain in the past. Do you think that this can be implemented into our context?

Sanja: Yes, of course it can.

Do you think that the realm of words can influence the way the audience read the stories related to heritage (shared or contested)?

Sanja: Yes, I think so. As long as we use rich and cumbersome vocabulary with professional terms in cultural heritage stories, our target group will be the only group of people who can understand us. Those who do understand us are usually part of our professional circles or colleagues. In that case, we have completely missed the goal for popularisation of cultural heritage.

***

The interview is conducted within the framework of the project “Shared or contested heritage”, implemented by ALDA Skopje and Forum ZFD. The aim of the project is to improve cross-border cooperation between North Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. The project raises awareness of the role of contested histories and shared cultural heritage for the EU integration processes among heritage practitioners and cultural workers. The content of the interview is the sole responsibility of the interviewee and does not always reflect the views and attitudes of ALDA and Forum ZFD.


Cultural heritage belongs to Humanity

An interview with Prof. Elizabeta Dimitrova, art historian specialised in the Byzantine Empire, interviewed by Ana Frangovska, art historian and curator.

Elizabeta Dimitrova, MA and PhD in art history from the University in Belgrade, is a Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia (University of Ss Cyril and Methodius). Within her scientific work, she devoted herself to the study of art, culture and socio-cultural features of the early Christian and Byzantine eras. In that context, she interpreted and was the first to publish the program, iconographic and artistic features of the ceramic icons from the Vinicko Kale site. Whereafter, Vinicko Kale became in the ‘90s one of the main archaeological attractions in the Balkans. Mrs Dimitrova identified the programmatic and iconographic concept of the frescoes in the Episcopal Basilica in Stobi based on the fragmentarily preserved parts of the decoration from the 4th century. Many of her scholarly works are devoted to the analysis and contextualisation of the symbolic meanings of the iconography of the early Christian mosaics in Stobi, Heraclea Lyncestis, and the antique town of Lychnidos. In the field of Byzantine art culture, she wrote a monograph dedicated to the Church “Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God”. Mrs Dimitrova is a very well-known worldwide researcher and a commissioner of many activities related to protection of cultural heritage.

What is the impact of Cultural Heritage on solving issues related with shared or contested heritage?

Elizabeta: The impact of heritage is one of the most influential aspects in this context, if one should have doubts about its value, capacity, management opportunities, protection options etc. On the other hand, if one wants to treat heritage as property, one should know that heritage is priceless therefore it cannot be treated as a property of any kind. Cultural heritage belongs to the whole of humanity; it just happens that a certain country takes care of the heritage located on that country’s geographic territory.

Do you engage in cross-border cooperation with professionals from Greece and Bulgaria and do you find any difficulties in its realisation?

Elizabeta: I do have cooperation with colleagues from Bulgaria (ongoing project for digitalisation of cultural heritage with professors from Sofia) and permanent cooperation in the process for review of archaeology and history papers with professors from Athens. In that regard, I have never had any problems, difficulties or pending issues involving historic dilemmas or any other kind of misunderstanding so far (including origin of the heritage or its institutional/non-institutional management, protection etc.).

"Cultural heritage should be treated as a precious accomplishment of people’s creativity of a certain time"

We do have heritage that can evoke different – sometimes difficult or competing – views and emotions, depending on the approach and viewpoint. The challenge of dealing with such divergence lies in the attempt to simultaneously convey these different views and voices when presenting this heritage to the public. Do you agree and do you think that this is an essential task when dealing with heritage and histories that speak to different people in different ways?

Elizabeta: When we say heritage, we address the qualitative scope of art works, artefacts, monuments and sites originating from different periods in time and diverse actions of human civilisation. Cultural heritage should be treated as a precious accomplishment of people’s creativity of a certain time, not as a mean for creating political views or manifests. It is a testimony to the creative potential of a certain epoch and its historic, economic, social and cultural amplitude; therefore, it should be interpreted in that manner – as a positive reflection of a historic momentum that is gone forever, leaving a precious trail in a certain artistic or cultural medium/sphere.

Do you think that being more polyvocal, engaging, diverse, (self-)reflective and participatory may solve some of the obstacles on the way of presenting cultural heritage (shared or contested)?

Elizabeta: One should be methodologically correct, chronologically precise and historically accurate to be able to be a real spokesman of the “bright” side of cultural heritage, since the “advocacy” can have a negative side, as well. Cultural heritage has been left to us for more pleasant reason than to be utilised as a political/social/national weapon. As soon as one realises that it is left for admiration (art works) proper investigation (artefacts) and touristic presentation (monuments), the misuse of cultural heritage stops being interesting or valid.

Can you think of an example of a case study of shared or contested heritage related to your particular field of interest (ethno-music, history, archaeology, contemporary art, art history etc.) and how would you approach its presentation?

Elizabeta: Of course, the church of the Holy Virgin in the village of Matejche, in the north part of North Macedonia first comes to mind. It was commissioned in the golden age of the Serbian medieval state, during the reign of Emperor Stefan Dushan as a mausoleum of the former Bulgarian princess Elena in the region of present-day North Macedonia. It belongs to the historic legacy of three modern states; yet, nobody takes care of it and the church is almost in decay. Instead of debating whose heritage it is (I remember some discussions on the subject), someone should ask whether they could do something for this heritage to survive in order to be classified historically or otherwise; if the church is gone, there will be no heritage left for discussion.

How we choose to remember the past and how we choose to move forward are the critical issues of today. What does cultural heritage mean in different national and regional contexts? Who can claim it as theirs, and who decides how it is preserved, displayed, or restored? How to share cultural heritage?

Elizabeta: With mutual initiatives (cross-border and/or international) for its protection and scientifically verified presentation (historic, chronological, thematic, artistic etc.). In my field of expertise, it is very simple – it is Byzantine cultural heritage, i.e. belongs to the medieval cultural and artistic production, manifesting certain architectural, iconographic and artistic features, the quality of which is the main hallmark recognised by its visual character.

“What signifies the national narratives are that they do not include layers; they are one-sided, often chronological and has a sense of a fixed, static, historical truth, about them”, said Anderson in 1991. Do you agree with this citation and why?

Elizabeta: As I said before, cultural heritage is not an instrument for national or political dialogue. It represents a reflection of how cultivated the people had been in the past (defined by certain chronology). Also, it reflects how cultivated we are in our efforts to take care of the legacy and preserve it for posterity. Cultural heritage has the following main specificities: it originates from a certain historical moment (chronology), it is shaped in a certain visual form (typology), it has certain recognisable qualities (classification) and it has certain existential needs (protected or unprotected). In the 21st century, we have to focus on the last specificity, since it requires the greatest effort. Everyone can say whatever they like about the heritage if one can see it, if not, we will all share the silence of a possible destruction.

When we discuss about shared or contested heritage the issue of time is essential, and in extreme cases of recent turmoil, the best method for reconciliation might not be to address the past as individually relatable; but rather that the past should hopefully remain in the past. Do you think that this can be implemented into our context?

Elizabeta: No, because, at least, in the Balkans the past has become the main argument for shaping the future. What is more dramatic is that the past has proven to be so changeable for  people in the Balkans that we no longer believe in what our ancestors have taught us. In such circumstances, the future becomes so uncertain that we are in pursuit of an opportunistically reconstructed past, defended by the role imposed to cultural heritage. Therefore, we have to give the legacy a new, more productive and highly affirmative function and save it from the current abuse and exploitation.

Do you think that the realm of words can influence the way the audience read the stories related to heritage (shared or contested)?

Elizabeta: By all means, that is why we need reliable spokesmen. Rhetoric skills have been much appreciated since the Ancient times due to their effect on people from all walks of life. The realm of words can have many effects (positive or negative) and that is why words should be selected carefully, intoned in a good will and passed through “secure” channels of professional approach and ethic standards. Cultural heritage, in its most basic definition, means creation and as such deserves creative approaches, treatment and appreciation.

***

The interview is conducted within the framework of the project “Shared or contested heritage”, implemented by ALDA Skopje and Forum ZFD. The aim of the project is to improve cross-border cooperation between North Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. The project raises awareness of the role of contested histories and shared cultural heritage for the EU integration processes among heritage practitioners and cultural workers. The content of the interview is the sole responsibility of the interviewee and does not always reflect the views and attitudes of ALDA and Forum ZFD.

An interview with Prof. Elizabeta Dimitrova, art historian specialised in the Byzantine Empire, interviewed by Ana Frangovska, art historian and curator.

Elizabeta Dimitrova, MA and PhD in art history from the University in Belgrade, is a Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia (University of Ss Cyril and Methodius). Within her scientific work, she devoted herself to the study of art, culture and socio-cultural features of the early Christian and Byzantine eras. In that context, she interpreted and was the first to publish the program, iconographic and artistic features of the ceramic icons from the Vinicko Kale site. Whereafter, Vinicko Kale became in the ‘90s one of the main archaeological attractions in the Balkans. Mrs Dimitrova identified the programmatic and iconographic concept of the frescoes in the Episcopal Basilica in Stobi based on the fragmentarily preserved parts of the decoration from the 4th century. Many of her scholarly works are devoted to the analysis and contextualisation of the symbolic meanings of the iconography of the early Christian mosaics in Stobi, Heraclea Lyncestis, and the antique town of Lychnidos. In the field of Byzantine art culture, she wrote a monograph dedicated to the Church “Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God”. Mrs Dimitrova is a very well-known worldwide researcher and a commissioner of many activities related to protection of cultural heritage.

What is the impact of Cultural Heritage on solving issues related with shared or contested heritage?

Elizabeta: The impact of heritage is one of the most influential aspects in this context, if one should have doubts about its value, capacity, management opportunities, protection options etc. On the other hand, if one wants to treat heritage as property, one should know that heritage is priceless therefore it cannot be treated as a property of any kind. Cultural heritage belongs to the whole of humanity; it just happens that a certain country takes care of the heritage located on that country’s geographic territory.

Do you engage in cross-border cooperation with professionals from Greece and Bulgaria and do you find any difficulties in its realisation?

Elizabeta: I do have cooperation with colleagues from Bulgaria (ongoing project for digitalisation of cultural heritage with professors from Sofia) and permanent cooperation in the process for review of archaeology and history papers with professors from Athens. In that regard, I have never had any problems, difficulties or pending issues involving historic dilemmas or any other kind of misunderstanding so far (including origin of the heritage or its institutional/non-institutional management, protection etc.).

"Cultural heritage should be treated as a precious accomplishment of people’s creativity of a certain time"

We do have heritage that can evoke different – sometimes difficult or competing – views and emotions, depending on the approach and viewpoint. The challenge of dealing with such divergence lies in the attempt to simultaneously convey these different views and voices when presenting this heritage to the public. Do you agree and do you think that this is an essential task when dealing with heritage and histories that speak to different people in different ways?

Elizabeta: When we say heritage, we address the qualitative scope of art works, artefacts, monuments and sites originating from different periods in time and diverse actions of human civilisation. Cultural heritage should be treated as a precious accomplishment of people’s creativity of a certain time, not as a mean for creating political views or manifests. It is a testimony to the creative potential of a certain epoch and its historic, economic, social and cultural amplitude; therefore, it should be interpreted in that manner – as a positive reflection of a historic momentum that is gone forever, leaving a precious trail in a certain artistic or cultural medium/sphere.

Do you think that being more polyvocal, engaging, diverse, (self-)reflective and participatory may solve some of the obstacles on the way of presenting cultural heritage (shared or contested)?

Elizabeta: One should be methodologically correct, chronologically precise and historically accurate to be able to be a real spokesman of the “bright” side of cultural heritage, since the “advocacy” can have a negative side, as well. Cultural heritage has been left to us for more pleasant reason than to be utilised as a political/social/national weapon. As soon as one realises that it is left for admiration (art works) proper investigation (artefacts) and touristic presentation (monuments), the misuse of cultural heritage stops being interesting or valid.

Can you think of an example of a case study of shared or contested heritage related to your particular field of interest (ethno-music, history, archaeology, contemporary art, art history etc.) and how would you approach its presentation?

Elizabeta: Of course, the church of the Holy Virgin in the village of Matejche, in the north part of North Macedonia first comes to mind. It was commissioned in the golden age of the Serbian medieval state, during the reign of Emperor Stefan Dushan as a mausoleum of the former Bulgarian princess Elena in the region of present-day North Macedonia. It belongs to the historic legacy of three modern states; yet, nobody takes care of it and the church is almost in decay. Instead of debating whose heritage it is (I remember some discussions on the subject), someone should ask whether they could do something for this heritage to survive in order to be classified historically or otherwise; if the church is gone, there will be no heritage left for discussion.

How we choose to remember the past and how we choose to move forward are the critical issues of today. What does cultural heritage mean in different national and regional contexts? Who can claim it as theirs, and who decides how it is preserved, displayed, or restored? How to share cultural heritage?

Elizabeta: With mutual initiatives (cross-border and/or international) for its protection and scientifically verified presentation (historic, chronological, thematic, artistic etc.). In my field of expertise, it is very simple – it is Byzantine cultural heritage, i.e. belongs to the medieval cultural and artistic production, manifesting certain architectural, iconographic and artistic features, the quality of which is the main hallmark recognised by its visual character.

“What signifies the national narratives are that they do not include layers; they are one-sided, often chronological and has a sense of a fixed, static, historical truth, about them”, said Anderson in 1991. Do you agree with this citation and why?

Elizabeta: As I said before, cultural heritage is not an instrument for national or political dialogue. It represents a reflection of how cultivated the people had been in the past (defined by certain chronology). Also, it reflects how cultivated we are in our efforts to take care of the legacy and preserve it for posterity. Cultural heritage has the following main specificities: it originates from a certain historical moment (chronology), it is shaped in a certain visual form (typology), it has certain recognisable qualities (classification) and it has certain existential needs (protected or unprotected). In the 21st century, we have to focus on the last specificity, since it requires the greatest effort. Everyone can say whatever they like about the heritage if one can see it, if not, we will all share the silence of a possible destruction.

When we discuss about shared or contested heritage the issue of time is essential, and in extreme cases of recent turmoil, the best method for reconciliation might not be to address the past as individually relatable; but rather that the past should hopefully remain in the past. Do you think that this can be implemented into our context?

Elizabeta: No, because, at least, in the Balkans the past has become the main argument for shaping the future. What is more dramatic is that the past has proven to be so changeable for  people in the Balkans that we no longer believe in what our ancestors have taught us. In such circumstances, the future becomes so uncertain that we are in pursuit of an opportunistically reconstructed past, defended by the role imposed to cultural heritage. Therefore, we have to give the legacy a new, more productive and highly affirmative function and save it from the current abuse and exploitation.

Do you think that the realm of words can influence the way the audience read the stories related to heritage (shared or contested)?

Elizabeta: By all means, that is why we need reliable spokesmen. Rhetoric skills have been much appreciated since the Ancient times due to their effect on people from all walks of life. The realm of words can have many effects (positive or negative) and that is why words should be selected carefully, intoned in a good will and passed through “secure” channels of professional approach and ethic standards. Cultural heritage, in its most basic definition, means creation and as such deserves creative approaches, treatment and appreciation.

***

The interview is conducted within the framework of the project “Shared or contested heritage”, implemented by ALDA Skopje and Forum ZFD. The aim of the project is to improve cross-border cooperation between North Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. The project raises awareness of the role of contested histories and shared cultural heritage for the EU integration processes among heritage practitioners and cultural workers. The content of the interview is the sole responsibility of the interviewee and does not always reflect the views and attitudes of ALDA and Forum ZFD.


Refugee Camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Love is the cure for painful experiences

I come from a small country in Europe, named Bosnia and Herzegovina. We recently started recovering from consequences of the war that happened less than 30 years ago, and never fully got on our feet again.

For a couple of years now, media headlines have been constantly buzzing about the “refugee crisis”, highlighting articles that propagate intolerance and revulsion towards members of such groups, exaggerating and sometimes even falsely presenting possible conflict situations in which migrants were involved (or maybe not?).

I am immensely sorry for we have become insensitive to other people’s misfortune and pain in hard times, neglecting the fact most of us or our families had to run from their home during a (mentioned) war outbreak. We forget so easily what it’s like to leave everything and run away, simply live by running, but run for life… What it’s like to wish to belong somewhere again, to have a constant environment, at least for a while. Overwhelmed with change and fear of attachment, these people are scared to adopt any habits, because they know they will eventually have to leave and start all over.

Imagine everything beginning to seem strange and no longer being sure if you are completely yourself. Like you left little pieces of you along the way. I would start to wonder if I have anything left…

I started to think if there was something we could all do to make their journey a little more bearable. Suddenly, an unexpected joy came into my life – the great joy of meeting and communicating with with those very same people.

Cooperation experience

Interactive workshops started in December 2019, as a part of the IMPACT project funded by the EU Erasmus + program, and implemented as a process of cooperation between the Local Democracy Agency Mostar and the Mostar Youth Theater, of which I am a member (along with more volunteers). We were meeting for five weeks – a total of 15 times for 2 or 3 hours and, simply put, exchanged Love.

Usually, different families would come to each workshop, often there were children, too. But, some of them came two, three or even more times and always begged us to participate and come with us again, when we came to the Salakovac Refugee Camp in a van, in which the number of passengers is limited to seven. Sometimes, one of us, organizers and volunteers, would undertake additional transportation by their personal vehicle, so that no one of the refugees would be disappointed. Read More History of France

At first, it was very difficult sparking them to open up. We did not want to push it, since it’s understandable how painful it can be to talk about everything they’ve run away from, to share shocking experiences that we, especially young ones, have heard only in the stories of the elderly, who took part in the war.

We tried to encourage the conversation with music, dance, jokes and games. On one occasion we placed several objects on the stage. Those were objects commonly seen in one’s home: an undershirt, a pot lid, a coffee cup, one shoe… They were scattered, almost as if someone had left them in such a hurry, grabbing everything he could manage to bring. This shook them, probably revived the memories and they started to speak more honestly and openly about their feelings. We listened, quietly. Because, what clever can be said about the testimony of the man whose brother was killed, in front of his eyes?! That you understand!? His pain??!!
NO, we could, nor say or feel that…

“The motive that guided us through this whole process is the ideal of equality.” 

Just listen…

From that moment, many encounters, that took place in Studentski hotel Mostar, passed by us listening to these unimaginable experiences, and slowly becoming more aware that it could have befallen any of us. To feel still unhealed scars of their pain, loss and fear, but to be a pillar, a support, a crying shoulder, to someone, without him feeling weaker because of it, is truly a great success and a blessing.

As nights passed by, each one of them burdened my consciousness with the same dream, over and over again. Whenever I wake up, turn around and go back to sleep, it just goes on like someone pressed play. I was waking up visibly tired. War, fear, uncertainty, suspense, danger, escape… The list just went on and on. At least, while sleeping, I felt, at least a part of those intimidating feelings. I realized on some strange level, what it’s like when fear becomes your main actuator, but also a source of inconceivable strength. Helplessness, loss, persecution… All that matters, is to survive and escape.

People often claim that we cannot significantly help a person if we haven’t experienced similar life circumstances on our own. I usually agree with the popular saying about “walking in someone’s shoes first”. But isn’t it even easier for us, young people, who have not yet tasted this torment, to be supportive, to take a part of that pain, which we still don’t understand, onto ourselves, to gift them humanly compassion, a smile, a hug?

We sang together, drew each other, and then rolled in laughter. We played sports with the children and taught them to draw an elephant, a flower, a tree… They showed us their traditional steps in dance. One kind Iraqi gentleman even brought ukulele and performed and old Kurdish song.

Nothing can stop you

Although we often had language barriers, even when there were no translators, we managed to communicate with our hands, eyes, sounds. The result was a magnificent synthesis of many different cultures. While we always organized a snack, toured the city, took them to try delicious cakes – physical and material support could hardly be compared to the strength of the mental help we succeeded to provide, for which they were deeply grateful.

The motive that guided us through this whole process is the ideal of equality. So, during one of the workshops, we were making masks. Whoever wanted his mask to be made, would lie on the nylon and we would start working. That wasn’t a short process. Sometimes it lasted up to 20 minutes or more. Most of the “models” were children who were lying still and patiently all the time. We were delighted with the absence of hyperactivity and the need to constantly provoke someone’s attention, which we almost always encounter among younger ages. When the masks were done, we would explain to them why we made them in the first place:

“Looking at the mask, we can’t conclude anything about the skin color, nationality, religion or any other imaginary traits we associate with people as padlocks of prejudice.”

The message is quite clear. We are all the same kind, we are all human, and we all need Love. It is the source of energy that drives the world and brings together even complete strangers. LET’S JUST LOVE EACH OTHER!! Read Oldest Language in the World

Changing the world

Civic activism at this time, except political turmoil and business scandals, must focus on other burning questions of the community in which it inhabits, without ignoring the above, no matter how much it is subject to insecurity and prejudice by passive citizens and stereotypically, never discussed among them.

From the collected stories and experiences, we decided to make a play and speak publicly about the life of refugees. We hope that with this act we will remind other people to do to others only what they would like to experience on, and in their own skin.

The play is called “GAME”, for many symbolic reasons. The premiere is coming soon and, in the future, we are determined to travel across the world, sharing this painful, but beautiful experience through forms of art, and perform on many famous stages in honor of human compassion and the almightiness of LOVE!

In the end, no matter how small your country might be on the map, you can still make a BIG difference in world becoming a better and a warmer place! Keep on going.

 By: Kljajić Sara

Love is the cure for painful experiences

I come from a small country in Europe, named Bosnia and Herzegovina. We recently started recovering from consequences of the war that happened less than 30 years ago, and never fully got on our feet again.

For a couple of years now, media headlines have been constantly buzzing about the “refugee crisis”, highlighting articles that propagate intolerance and revulsion towards members of such groups, exaggerating and sometimes even falsely presenting possible conflict situations in which migrants were involved (or maybe not?).

I am immensely sorry for we have become insensitive to other people’s misfortune and pain in hard times, neglecting the fact most of us or our families had to run from their home during a (mentioned) war outbreak. We forget so easily what it’s like to leave everything and run away, simply live by running, but run for life… What it’s like to wish to belong somewhere again, to have a constant environment, at least for a while. Overwhelmed with change and fear of attachment, these people are scared to adopt any habits, because they know they will eventually have to leave and start all over.

Imagine everything beginning to seem strange and no longer being sure if you are completely yourself. Like you left little pieces of you along the way. I would start to wonder if I have anything left…

I started to think if there was something we could all do to make their journey a little more bearable. Suddenly, an unexpected joy came into my life – the great joy of meeting and communicating with with those very same people.

Cooperation experience

Interactive workshops started in December 2019, as a part of the IMPACT project funded by the EU Erasmus + program, and implemented as a process of cooperation between the Local Democracy Agency Mostar and the Mostar Youth Theater, of which I am a member (along with more volunteers). We were meeting for five weeks – a total of 15 times for 2 or 3 hours and, simply put, exchanged Love.

Usually, different families would come to each workshop, often there were children, too. But, some of them came two, three or even more times and always begged us to participate and come with us again, when we came to the Salakovac Refugee Camp in a van, in which the number of passengers is limited to seven. Sometimes, one of us, organizers and volunteers, would undertake additional transportation by their personal vehicle, so that no one of the refugees would be disappointed. Read More History of France

At first, it was very difficult sparking them to open up. We did not want to push it, since it’s understandable how painful it can be to talk about everything they’ve run away from, to share shocking experiences that we, especially young ones, have heard only in the stories of the elderly, who took part in the war.

We tried to encourage the conversation with music, dance, jokes and games. On one occasion we placed several objects on the stage. Those were objects commonly seen in one’s home: an undershirt, a pot lid, a coffee cup, one shoe… They were scattered, almost as if someone had left them in such a hurry, grabbing everything he could manage to bring. This shook them, probably revived the memories and they started to speak more honestly and openly about their feelings. We listened, quietly. Because, what clever can be said about the testimony of the man whose brother was killed, in front of his eyes?! That you understand!? His pain??!!
NO, we could, nor say or feel that…

“The motive that guided us through this whole process is the ideal of equality.” 

Just listen…

From that moment, many encounters, that took place in Studentski hotel Mostar, passed by us listening to these unimaginable experiences, and slowly becoming more aware that it could have befallen any of us. To feel still unhealed scars of their pain, loss and fear, but to be a pillar, a support, a crying shoulder, to someone, without him feeling weaker because of it, is truly a great success and a blessing.

As nights passed by, each one of them burdened my consciousness with the same dream, over and over again. Whenever I wake up, turn around and go back to sleep, it just goes on like someone pressed play. I was waking up visibly tired. War, fear, uncertainty, suspense, danger, escape… The list just went on and on. At least, while sleeping, I felt, at least a part of those intimidating feelings. I realized on some strange level, what it’s like when fear becomes your main actuator, but also a source of inconceivable strength. Helplessness, loss, persecution… All that matters, is to survive and escape.

People often claim that we cannot significantly help a person if we haven’t experienced similar life circumstances on our own. I usually agree with the popular saying about “walking in someone’s shoes first”. But isn’t it even easier for us, young people, who have not yet tasted this torment, to be supportive, to take a part of that pain, which we still don’t understand, onto ourselves, to gift them humanly compassion, a smile, a hug?

We sang together, drew each other, and then rolled in laughter. We played sports with the children and taught them to draw an elephant, a flower, a tree… They showed us their traditional steps in dance. One kind Iraqi gentleman even brought ukulele and performed and old Kurdish song.

Nothing can stop you

Although we often had language barriers, even when there were no translators, we managed to communicate with our hands, eyes, sounds. The result was a magnificent synthesis of many different cultures. While we always organized a snack, toured the city, took them to try delicious cakes – physical and material support could hardly be compared to the strength of the mental help we succeeded to provide, for which they were deeply grateful.

The motive that guided us through this whole process is the ideal of equality. So, during one of the workshops, we were making masks. Whoever wanted his mask to be made, would lie on the nylon and we would start working. That wasn’t a short process. Sometimes it lasted up to 20 minutes or more. Most of the “models” were children who were lying still and patiently all the time. We were delighted with the absence of hyperactivity and the need to constantly provoke someone’s attention, which we almost always encounter among younger ages. When the masks were done, we would explain to them why we made them in the first place:

“Looking at the mask, we can’t conclude anything about the skin color, nationality, religion or any other imaginary traits we associate with people as padlocks of prejudice.”

The message is quite clear. We are all the same kind, we are all human, and we all need Love. It is the source of energy that drives the world and brings together even complete strangers. LET’S JUST LOVE EACH OTHER!! Read Oldest Language in the World

Changing the world

Civic activism at this time, except political turmoil and business scandals, must focus on other burning questions of the community in which it inhabits, without ignoring the above, no matter how much it is subject to insecurity and prejudice by passive citizens and stereotypically, never discussed among them.

From the collected stories and experiences, we decided to make a play and speak publicly about the life of refugees. We hope that with this act we will remind other people to do to others only what they would like to experience on, and in their own skin.

The play is called “GAME”, for many symbolic reasons. The premiere is coming soon and, in the future, we are determined to travel across the world, sharing this painful, but a beautiful experience through forms of art, and perform on many famous stages in honor of human compassion and the almightiness of LOVE!

In the end, no matter how small your country might be on the map, you can still make a BIG difference in world becoming a better and a warmer place! Keep on going.

 By: Kljajić Sara


EPIC coordination meeting

They should have been in Madrid, but instead the EPIC project partners gathered online, each connected from its country, for the EPIC Project’s Coordination Meeting.

The virtual event took place along 3 days, from Monday November 16th, to Wednesday November 18th and had the ambition to identify the project’s key priority based on the first assessments.

On Monday, the meeting was opened by ALDA Secretary General Antonella Valmorbida, who warmly welcomed the partners and thanked everyone for the participation and the strong commitment shown towards the project. Afterwards, Antonella pointed the attention on the essential work EPIC is achieving in order to improve migrants’ inclusion and don’t leave them abandoned, especially in this very historical moment. To conclude, Antonella Valmorbida highlighted the importance such a project like EPIC has in the broader framework of ALDA’s mission, being social inclusion and migrants’ integration a pillar action in the recently approved Strategic Framework of ALDA for 2020-2024.

The report Unsettling integration will be the basis for capacity building and pilot activities in the next 2 years

Back to the project, what strongly marked the meeting was the presentation of the Research Report Unsettling integration, conducted by Giovanna Astolfo, Harriett Allsopp, Jonah Rudlin and Hanadi Samhan, from The Bartlett Development Planning Unit of the University College London. The report has been elaborated starting from the results of interviews, questionnaires and focus groups with over 700 citizens (including migrants and refugees), on the basis of the existing literature, and will soon be publicly disclosed through EPIC’s website and social media.

The research aimed at investigating the multiple aspects of integration and will be the framework for the implementation of capacity building and pilot activities of the EPIC project in the next 2 years.

Once identified the key integration-priorities emerged from the research, smaller roundtables were set up (yes, online!) to analyses strengths and challenges of each priority.

The meeting also saw the presentation of the monitoring and evaluation instruments the project will implement to assess the progress towards its goals.

What’s after such a long and rich meeting? The outputs of the event will make it possible to create solid basis for the matchmaking and the exchange of good practices between the eight cities involved in the project, namely Lisbon (Portugal), Brescia (Italy), Gdansk (Poland), Ioannina (Greece), Oberhausen (Germany), Sisak (Croatia), Novo Mesto (Slovenia) and Vejle (Denmark).

Keep following the EPIC project on Facebook and stay tuned as more information will be soon available on its website www.epicamif.eu!

They should have been in Madrid, but instead the EPIC project partners gathered online, each connected from its country, for the EPIC Project’s Coordination Meeting.

The virtual event took place along 3 days, from Monday November 16th, to Wednesday November 18th and had the ambition to identify the project’s key priority based on the first assessments.

On Monday, the meeting was opened by ALDA Secretary General Antonella Valmorbida, who warmly welcomed the partners and thanked everyone for the participation and the strong commitment shown towards the project. Afterwards, Antonella pointed the attention on the essential work EPIC is achieving in order to improve migrants’ inclusion and don’t leave them abandoned, especially in this very historical moment. To conclude, Antonella Valmorbida highlighted the importance such a project like EPIC has in the broader framework of ALDA’s mission, being social inclusion and migrants’ integration a pillar action in the recently approved Strategic Framework of ALDA for 2020-2024.

The report Unsettling integration will be the basis for capacity building and pilot activities in the next 2 years

Back to the project, what strongly marked the meeting was the presentation of the Research Report Unsettling integration, conducted by Giovanna Astolfo, Harriett Allsopp, Jonah Rudlin and Hanadi Samhan, from The Bartlett Development Planning Unit of the University College London. The report has been elaborated starting from the results of interviews, questionnaires and focus groups with over 700 citizens (including migrants and refugees), on the basis of the existing literature, and will soon be publicly disclosed through EPIC’s website and social media.

The research aimed at investigating the multiple aspects of integration and will be the framework for the implementation of capacity building and pilot activities of the EPIC project in the next 2 years.

Once identified the key integration-priorities emerged from the research, smaller roundtables were set up (yes, online!) to analyses strengths and challenges of each priority.

The meeting also saw the presentation of the monitoring and evaluation instruments the project will implement to assess the progress towards its goals.

What’s after such a long and rich meeting? The outputs of the event will make it possible to create solid basis for the matchmaking and the exchange of good practices between the eight cities involved in the project, namely Lisbon (Portugal), Brescia (Italy), Gdansk (Poland), Ioannina (Greece), Oberhausen (Germany), Sisak (Croatia), Novo Mesto (Slovenia) and Vejle (Denmark).

Keep following the EPIC project on Facebook and stay tuned as more information will be soon available on its website www.epicamif.eu!


Cultural heritage is an ongoing process

An interview to Aemilia Papaphilippou, visual artist from Athens, Greece, by Ana Frangovska, art historian and curator.

Aemilia Papaphilippou is a contemporary Greek artist. Departing from the survey of her chess continuum, Papaphilippou focuses on the notion of the ubiquitous and perpetual motion via the historical, socio-cultural and anthropological realms. Through her works we can have the affirmative answer to the question:  can contemporary art play a pivotal role in the understanding of our past through our present and future hypostasis? In her artworks she explores the interconnection of realities. One of her essential works is a major intervention set at the public site of the Ancient Agora of Athens, right at the foot of the Parthenon. Following, I will present her elaborated points of view on the topic of Shared or Contested Heritage.

We do have heritage that can evoke different – sometimes difficult or competing – views and emotions, depending on the approach and viewpoint. The challenge of dealing with such divergence lies in the attempt to simultaneously convey these different views and voices when presenting this heritage to the public. Do you agree and do you think that this is an essential task when dealing with heritage and histories that speak to different people in different ways?

Aemilia: The claim and opening sentence of this questionnaire “we do have heritage”, in the plural, suggests that this “heritage” (whatever is meant by that) is a cultural, or actual, property that is shared. Furthermore, it is implied that having different readings of this “heritage”, testifies to the fact that it is indeed shared, and it is only a matter of viewpoints. This however is a slippery road to fallacy; having different opinions upon the subject of “heritage” doesn’t necessarily testify to a shared cultural understanding, nor, of course, to a cultural property that belongs to all the parties involved. One only needs to think of Indonesia and Netherlands for example; many others exist in the history of colonialism. Or Cowboys and Indians to put it lightly. Intertwining pasts do not necessarily lead to a common future- far from it!

What does heritage mean to you as an individual and as a citizen of your country and the world?

Aemilia: Being Greek, and to continue from where I left off in the previous paragraph, I understand Culture as an ongoing process, which is exactly that: a constant cultivation, a culture which breeds the Present, the Now! It is democracy in the making. This process incorporates all kinds of twists and turns yet it keeps reinstituting itself incessantly. When one realises that responsibility and respect comes forth from within, and regardless if one is actually Greek or not, it sheds light on what Socrates meant when saying “Greeks are the ones that partake in the Greek culture”.

Can you think of an example of a case study of shared or contested heritage related to your particular field of interest (ethno-music, history, archaeology, contemporary art, art history etc.) and how would you approach its presentation?

Aemilia: Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, created in 1907, and the usage of African masks, (among Asian or Iberian indicatives) in his portrayal of womanhood as the scary, confrontational “Other”. Interestingly enough Picasso’s only portrayal of a western woman is that of Germaine, the woman “responsible” for the death of his very close friend and possibly lover, Casagemas, who committed suicide in 1901 because being impotent Germaine denied to marry him. Picasso, according to Dora Maar, who “devoured” women and changed styles with every next lover, was a repressed homosexual. Interestingly enough this painting which, is probably dealing with Death and the sexual instinct for Life, intertwines genders, social stereotypes, colonialism, diverse cultures and artistic styles in thickly interrelated levels and cannot be truncated into easily digested chunks. However, although “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” is considered a seminal painting to western contemporary art, we tend to remain at the surface of stylistic introduction to other cultures, (the African masks etc.) while the art market has not allowed a reading on manhood which would destroy the myth of Picasso as the ultimate male and surely reflect upon the value of his paintings.

But I should have first just mentioned the obvious: the ongoing (!) dispute over the Parthenon Marbles known as “the Elgin marbles”, removed between the years 1801 to 1812(!), from the Acropolis, by the Earl of Elgin, and now displayed in the British Museum. Even Lord Byron, his compatriot and contemporary, could see that this was an act of vandalism and looting and wrote about Elgin: “Loathed in Life nor pardoned in the dust…” Let us therefore be reminded that which lies beneath “contested heritage” is always connected with profit. Even though the parties involved may feel as  the protagonists, they may only be the leverage for pushing towards facilitating profit for parties that lay in the dark. In our region, the Balkans, the pressure to “reconfigure” the land has been a plight with no ending. Nowadays, among other things, we read about the energy market and we are entangled in its plot.

In a context of uncertainties and dystopias, what is the role of cultural heritage?

Aemilia: Culture, (which is based on cultural heritage but does not coincide with it) keeps people together as an infrastructure of sorts. It is a signifying system, a way of life that forms both the individual but also the collective and its connectivity.  A sense of identity stems from it while the need for meaning is possibly more important than survival itself. Blood has been shed for centuries by people fighting for what they believe in, yet we remain rather naïve. After all, in our times, technology, Internet and dense interconnectedness of all sorts changes who we are, both on the level of Selfhood but also on the level of Collectiveness.  It is therefore rather redundant to keep talking in terms of “cultural heritage” when Covid-19 has forced us all to realise not only the fragility of Life but how important art and culture, as an ongoing phenomenon, is for our survival.

One of the challenges for researchers and practitioners in the field of cultural heritage is to develop more inclusive approaches to share heritage in order to transgress social and national boundaries. Any idea of how you would implement this into your particular field of interest?

Aemilia: The “inclusive approach”, “transgressing social and national boundaries”, is not a good idea because it ends up being against diversity and variability while subduing conflict and controversy.

Obviously, we tend to undermine what Heraclitus taught us; that “all stems out of war”, meaning that we have to appreciate that in order to move forward we must undergo the dialectic of opposing forces, the Hegelian “thesis, antithesis, synthesis”, and accept the ever-changing flow of becoming. Furthermore, we tend to forget that People incorporate something cultural, which they feel drawn to, because it creates meaning for them. Once they do, they claim it as their own and protect it because it shapes who they are. It is human nature to the extent that even what is recognised as Selfhood is a construct not only on a social level but also on a neurophysiologic level. In this light we should invest in the future, creatively!

"Culture as an ongoing process which incorporates all kinds of twists and turns, yet it keeps reinstituting itself incessantly"

What signifies the national narratives are that they do not include layers; they are one-sided, often chronological and has a sense of a fixed, static, historical truth, about them, said Anderson in 1991. Do you agree with this citation and why?

Aemilia: I disagree. Cultural heritage is as much a thing of the past as well as a living corpus that gets to be investigated, or not, by the extent of how we value and understand what has been, in the way we act Here, Now, Today.

Let us not be willing to erase memory, because it is only through dealing with the past that we can possibly evolve into something better in the future. Cultural heritage therefore cannot be considered fixed, but an ongoing process that interprets the past, also through the actions of the present.

Another method of challenging the national narrative, regarding shared or contested heritage, would be to go from the particular to the universal. Cornelius Holtorf writes: “(…) the new cultural heritage can transcend cultural particularism by promoting values and virtues derived from humanism and a commitment to global solidarity.” What do you think about this?

Aemilia: Amused by generalisations of this kind I’m at the same time appalled by where they could lead us. We cannot leap “from the particular to the universal” if we do not understand that what we perceive as a particular given, humanism for example, is not a shared understanding nor a given! For example, human life is not valued by terrorists. “Martyrs” who are not only willing to sacrifice their lives to bring havoc, but are actually proud to spread death, have also an idea of a “universal” that needs to be spread around, this way or the other! Nor are human rights a given, even in societies that have bled in order to defend them.

When we discuss about shared or contested heritage the issue of time is essential, and in extreme cases of recent turmoil, the best method for reconciliation might not be to address the past as individually relatable; but rather that the past should hopefully remain in the past. Do you think that this can be implemented into our context?

Aemilia: No, this is not possible either. Meaning that which informs the present is, partly, that which has already been established in the past. We need to understand that we should invest more in the present and creative processes, and yet at the same time be careful not to popularise the “past” in order to make it agreeable to the wide public or the market. The “past” indeed requires invested time and knowledge and we should be equally unwilling to deconstruct it so as to make it a commodity of sorts, nor think that it can remain dormant and let it “rest in peace”.

Do you think that the realm of words can influence the way the audience read the stories related to heritage (shared or contested)?

Aemilia: No. Words are only words. It is the way that words are used that makes a difference and it is only through communication that we can create common ground. Talking about “audiences” therefore, as is being suggested by the question, implies that “audiences” are rather passive listeners, and take in what is suggested by the “speakers”. However, this is never the case. “Audiences” do not exist passively because they are in reality partly co-authoring what is being put on the table. I, therefore, cannot but wonder: is what is being suggested here some propaganda of sorts?! If that is the case it will instigate further conflict.

When dealing with shared history and heritage international cooperation has the potential to foster more understanding within and between cultures. Do you agree with this? What is your personal experience?

Aemilia: Yes, I agree provided that this is possible. If the cultures involved value dialogue, communication, and the individual as an agent of change, then it “could foster more understanding within and between cultures”. The Galichnik residency in North Macedonia, is such a positive and successful case that I experienced personally. We should however note that heritage or cultural issues are/were not the goal of the residency, although they tended to surface. Making art is/was the goal of the residency; within the western paradigm of what art is about, which already established freedom of expression as a given (a common ground we should not take for granted). However not all cultures are open to that kind of dialogue and exchange.

In this light another incident, that I experienced personally, comes to my mind. I was invited to participate in a workshop in Greece, supposedly aimed at making art interactively. For this workshop, which involved only women Greek and refugees, the Greek women were not only advised by the organisers to be dressed “modestly” (they demanded no sleeveless dresses-it was Summer), but also that we would have to accept to undergo inspection by the refugees’ husbands, or their men kin (brother or whomever was considered “responsible” for them), in order to be allowed to finally interact among us. I declined participating.

***

The interview is conducted within the framework of the project “Shared or contested heritage”, implemented by ALDA Skopje and Forum ZFD. The aim of the project is to improve cross-border cooperation between North Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. The project raises awareness of the role of contested histories and shared cultural heritage for the EU integration processes among heritage practitioners and cultural workers.  The content of the interview is the sole responsibility of the interviewee and does not always reflect the views and attitudes of ALDA and Forum ZFD.

An interview to Aemilia Papaphilippou, visual artist from Athens, Greece, by Ana Frangovska, art historian and curator.

Aemilia Papaphilippou is a contemporary Greek artist. Departing from the survey of her chess continuum, Papaphilippou focuses on the notion of the ubiquitous and perpetual motion via the historical, socio-cultural and anthropological realms. Through her works we can have the affirmative answer to the question:  can contemporary art play a pivotal role in the understanding of our past through our present and future hypostasis? In her artworks she explores the interconnection of realities. One of her essential works is a major intervention set at the public site of the Ancient Agora of Athens, right at the foot of the Parthenon. Following, I will present her elaborated points of view on the topic of Shared or Contested Heritage.

We do have heritage that can evoke different – sometimes difficult or competing – views and emotions, depending on the approach and viewpoint. The challenge of dealing with such divergence lies in the attempt to simultaneously convey these different views and voices when presenting this heritage to the public. Do you agree and do you think that this is an essential task when dealing with heritage and histories that speak to different people in different ways?

Aemilia: The claim and opening sentence of this questionnaire “we do have heritage”, in the plural, suggests that this “heritage” (whatever is meant by that) is a cultural, or actual, property that is shared. Furthermore, it is implied that having different readings of this “heritage”, testifies to the fact that it is indeed shared, and it is only a matter of viewpoints. This however is a slippery road to fallacy; having different opinions upon the subject of “heritage” doesn’t necessarily testify to a shared cultural understanding, nor, of course, to a cultural property that belongs to all the parties involved. One only needs to think of Indonesia and Netherlands for example; many others exist in the history of colonialism. Or Cowboys and Indians to put it lightly. Intertwining pasts do not necessarily lead to a common future- far from it!

What does heritage mean to you as an individual and as a citizen of your country and the world?

Aemilia: Being Greek, and to continue from where I left off in the previous paragraph, I understand Culture as an ongoing process, which is exactly that: a constant cultivation, a culture which breeds the Present, the Now! It is democracy in the making. This process incorporates all kinds of twists and turns yet it keeps reinstituting itself incessantly. When one realises that responsibility and respect comes forth from within, and regardless if one is actually Greek or not, it sheds light on what Socrates meant when saying “Greeks are the ones that partake in the Greek culture”.

Can you think of an example of a case study of shared or contested heritage related to your particular field of interest (ethno-music, history, archaeology, contemporary art, art history etc.) and how would you approach its presentation?

Aemilia: Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, created in 1907, and the usage of African masks, (among Asian or Iberian indicatives) in his portrayal of womanhood as the scary, confrontational “Other”. Interestingly enough Picasso’s only portrayal of a western woman is that of Germaine, the woman “responsible” for the death of his very close friend and possibly lover, Casagemas, who committed suicide in 1901 because being impotent Germaine denied to marry him. Picasso, according to Dora Maar, who “devoured” women and changed styles with every next lover, was a repressed homosexual. Interestingly enough this painting which, is probably dealing with Death and the sexual instinct for Life, intertwines genders, social stereotypes, colonialism, diverse cultures and artistic styles in thickly interrelated levels and cannot be truncated into easily digested chunks. However, although “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” is considered a seminal painting to western contemporary art, we tend to remain at the surface of stylistic introduction to other cultures, (the African masks etc.) while the art market has not allowed a reading on manhood which would destroy the myth of Picasso as the ultimate male and surely reflect upon the value of his paintings.

But I should have first just mentioned the obvious: the ongoing (!) dispute over the Parthenon Marbles known as “the Elgin marbles”, removed between the years 1801 to 1812(!), from the Acropolis, by the Earl of Elgin, and now displayed in the British Museum. Even Lord Byron, his compatriot and contemporary, could see that this was an act of vandalism and looting and wrote about Elgin: “Loathed in Life nor pardoned in the dust…” Let us therefore be reminded that which lies beneath “contested heritage” is always connected with profit. Even though the parties involved may feel as  the protagonists, they may only be the leverage for pushing towards facilitating profit for parties that lay in the dark. In our region, the Balkans, the pressure to “reconfigure” the land has been a plight with no ending. Nowadays, among other things, we read about the energy market and we are entangled in its plot.

In a context of uncertainties and dystopias, what is the role of cultural heritage?

Aemilia: Culture, (which is based on cultural heritage but does not coincide with it) keeps people together as an infrastructure of sorts. It is a signifying system, a way of life that forms both the individual but also the collective and its connectivity.  A sense of identity stems from it while the need for meaning is possibly more important than survival itself. Blood has been shed for centuries by people fighting for what they believe in, yet we remain rather naïve. After all, in our times, technology, Internet and dense interconnectedness of all sorts changes who we are, both on the level of Selfhood but also on the level of Collectiveness.  It is therefore rather redundant to keep talking in terms of “cultural heritage” when Covid-19 has forced us all to realise not only the fragility of Life but how important art and culture, as an ongoing phenomenon, is for our survival.

One of the challenges for researchers and practitioners in the field of cultural heritage is to develop more inclusive approaches to share heritage in order to transgress social and national boundaries. Any idea of how you would implement this into your particular field of interest?

Aemilia: The “inclusive approach”, “transgressing social and national boundaries”, is not a good idea because it ends up being against diversity and variability while subduing conflict and controversy.

Obviously, we tend to undermine what Heraclitus taught us; that “all stems out of war”, meaning that we have to appreciate that in order to move forward we must undergo the dialectic of opposing forces, the Hegelian “thesis, antithesis, synthesis”, and accept the ever-changing flow of becoming. Furthermore, we tend to forget that People incorporate something cultural, which they feel drawn to, because it creates meaning for them. Once they do, they claim it as their own and protect it because it shapes who they are. It is human nature to the extent that even what is recognised as Selfhood is a construct not only on a social level but also on a neurophysiologic level. In this light we should invest in the future, creatively!

"Culture as an ongoing process which incorporates all kinds of twists and turns, yet it keeps reinstituting itself incessantly"

What signifies the national narratives are that they do not include layers; they are one-sided, often chronological and has a sense of a fixed, static, historical truth, about them, said Anderson in 1991. Do you agree with this citation and why?

Aemilia: I disagree. Cultural heritage is as much a thing of the past as well as a living corpus that gets to be investigated, or not, by the extent of how we value and understand what has been, in the way we act Here, Now, Today.

Let us not be willing to erase memory, because it is only through dealing with the past that we can possibly evolve into something better in the future. Cultural heritage therefore cannot be considered fixed, but an ongoing process that interprets the past, also through the actions of the present.

Another method of challenging the national narrative, regarding shared or contested heritage, would be to go from the particular to the universal. Cornelius Holtorf writes: “(…) the new cultural heritage can transcend cultural particularism by promoting values and virtues derived from humanism and a commitment to global solidarity.” What do you think about this?

Aemilia: Amused by generalisations of this kind I’m at the same time appalled by where they could lead us. We cannot leap “from the particular to the universal” if we do not understand that what we perceive as a particular given, humanism for example, is not a shared understanding nor a given! For example, human life is not valued by terrorists. “Martyrs” who are not only willing to sacrifice their lives to bring havoc, but are actually proud to spread death, have also an idea of a “universal” that needs to be spread around, this way or the other! Nor are human rights a given, even in societies that have bled in order to defend them.

When we discuss about shared or contested heritage the issue of time is essential, and in extreme cases of recent turmoil, the best method for reconciliation might not be to address the past as individually relatable; but rather that the past should hopefully remain in the past. Do you think that this can be implemented into our context?

Aemilia: No, this is not possible either. Meaning that which informs the present is, partly, that which has already been established in the past. We need to understand that we should invest more in the present and creative processes, and yet at the same time be careful not to popularise the “past” in order to make it agreeable to the wide public or the market. The “past” indeed requires invested time and knowledge and we should be equally unwilling to deconstruct it so as to make it a commodity of sorts, nor think that it can remain dormant and let it “rest in peace”.

Do you think that the realm of words can influence the way the audience read the stories related to heritage (shared or contested)?

Aemilia: No. Words are only words. It is the way that words are used that makes a difference and it is only through communication that we can create common ground. Talking about “audiences” therefore, as is being suggested by the question, implies that “audiences” are rather passive listeners, and take in what is suggested by the “speakers”. However, this is never the case. “Audiences” do not exist passively because they are in reality partly co-authoring what is being put on the table. I, therefore, cannot but wonder: is what is being suggested here some propaganda of sorts?! If that is the case it will instigate further conflict.

When dealing with shared history and heritage international cooperation has the potential to foster more understanding within and between cultures. Do you agree with this? What is your personal experience?

Aemilia: Yes, I agree provided that this is possible. If the cultures involved value dialogue, communication, and the individual as an agent of change, then it “could foster more understanding within and between cultures”. The Galichnik residency in North Macedonia, is such a positive and successful case that I experienced personally. We should however note that heritage or cultural issues are/were not the goal of the residency, although they tended to surface. Making art is/was the goal of the residency; within the western paradigm of what art is about, which already established freedom of expression as a given (a common ground we should not take for granted). However not all cultures are open to that kind of dialogue and exchange.

In this light another incident, that I experienced personally, comes to my mind. I was invited to participate in a workshop in Greece, supposedly aimed at making art interactively. For this workshop, which involved only women Greek and refugees, the Greek women were not only advised by the organisers to be dressed “modestly” (they demanded no sleeveless dresses-it was Summer), but also that we would have to accept to undergo inspection by the refugees’ husbands, or their men kin (brother or whomever was considered “responsible” for them), in order to be allowed to finally interact among us. I declined participating.

***

The interview is conducted within the framework of the project “Shared or contested heritage”, implemented by ALDA Skopje and Forum ZFD. The aim of the project is to improve cross-border cooperation between North Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. The project raises awareness of the role of contested histories and shared cultural heritage for the EU integration processes among heritage practitioners and cultural workers.  The content of the interview is the sole responsibility of the interviewee and does not always reflect the views and attitudes of ALDA and Forum ZFD.


A gaming project to Play Public Policy

What is a public policy? How are the decisions taken? Would you be a decision-maker?

If only there was an easy and funny way to find an answer to all these questions. Because public policy is not a game…or wait, maybe it is!

Let us introduce P-CUBE, a new generation project which will let you enter the world of decision-making and literary learning by playing!

Indeed, P-CUBE is a project to design and implement an educational game for teaching public policy theory, with specific emphasis on policy change.

The project aims at improving awareness about the importance of developing multi-disciplinary skills in the policy making field, primarily addressing the youths, but also decision-makers, urban planners, NGOs, CSOs, social workers and scientists. Through the promotion of P-CUBE videogame to such a wider public, the project will contribute dispelling misconceptions and prejudices on the way innovations are put forward in public policies, by presenting the process through an interactive, interesting and yet realistic model.

A gaming project for youth to understand the world of public policy

The game will help players to become more familiar with the complexities of public policy making, and thus prove that there are different ways to overcome the obstacles that prevent current governance systems from tackling collective problems.

P-CUBE primarily addresses younger generations, since they will be the one leading and taking key decision in our near future and they need to have the knowledge to understand how such decisions are to be taken.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this great project and.. Play Public Policy!

***

The project P-CUBE is an European project funded by the programme ERASMUS+ of the European Commission. The goal of P-CUBE is to build an educational strategy game (the Policy Game) designed to teach the theory and practice of public policy making to different groups of people, principally students. This project is led by Fondazione Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and gather experienced and expert partner, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain), Technische Universiteit Delft (Netherlands), Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Université du Luxembourg (Luxembourg), La science pour la démocratie AISBL (Belgium), ALDA (France).

 

What is a public policy? How are the decisions taken? Would you be a decision-maker?

If only there was an easy and funny way to find an answer to all these questions. Because public policy is not a game…or wait, maybe it is!

Let us introduce P-CUBE, a new generation project which will let you enter the world of decision-making and literary learning by playing!

Indeed, P-CUBE is a project to design and implement an educational game for teaching public policy theory, with specific emphasis on policy change.

The project aims at improving awareness about the importance of developing multi-disciplinary skills in the policy making field, primarily addressing the youths, but also decision-makers, urban planners, NGOs, CSOs, social workers and scientists. Through the promotion of P-CUBE videogame to such a wider public, the project will contribute dispelling misconceptions and prejudices on the way innovations are put forward in public policies, by presenting the process through an interactive, interesting and yet realistic model.

A gaming project for youth to understand the world of public policy

The game will help players to become more familiar with the complexities of public policy making, and thus prove that there are different ways to overcome the obstacles that prevent current governance systems from tackling collective problems.

P-CUBE primarily addresses younger generations, since they will be the one leading and taking key decision in our near future and they need to have the knowledge to understand how such decisions are to be taken.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this great project and.. Play Public Policy!

***

The project P-CUBE is an European project funded by the programme ERASMUS+ of the European Commission. The goal of P-CUBE is to build an educational strategy game (the Policy Game) designed to teach the theory and practice of public policy making to different groups of people, principally students. This project is led by Fondazione Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and gather experienced and expert partner, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain), Technische Universiteit Delft (Netherlands), Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Université du Luxembourg (Luxembourg), La science pour la démocratie AISBL (Belgium), ALDA (France).