Conference in Pictures

Images from the Conference

We’ve been busy taking pictures at the Intercultural Cities conference. Some of the best are on Flickr here:

If you also have pictures to share, please upload them to and tag them with “interculturalcities” and other relevant tags. Enjoy!


“Why are we here, dad?”

Sara Wajid reviews her family history as told by official archives.

As a child, parents and primary school teachers gave me completely different answers to the question “Why are we here?” I preferred my dad’s answer because it extended me some dignity: England needed doctors. But as a child, I needed a multicoloured explanation, a bit more ammunition to bolster my internal resources and answer the “Paki go home” playground taunts. A poster of the proud Asian suffragettes marching in 1912 might have helped. Or one of cricket star Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji, who came to England in 1888 to attend Trinity College, Cambridge, and became the first Indian to play cricket at county level. Or copies of the historic letters between Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah and Mountbatten negotiating the terms of Indian independence.
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The tour Itinerary at the Inter-cultural Cities Conference

Saturday, 3rd May 2008: visit around
Kensington, starting 10.00am

More info on Kensington Regeneration is available at

10.00am. Convene at St. Georges Hall, North Entrance & leave in Minibus for Kensington The bus will have two distinct groups going to Kensington, some going to a) METAL in Marmaduke Street; and the rest going on b) Kensington Magical Mystery Tour to end up at the Hindu Cultural Organisation at 10.45pm for our hour’s meeting there on Kensington.

We will first pass Edge Hill Railway Station to show all delegates where the Liverpool Pavillions Festival will take place from 12 noon to 6.0pm the same day with our Kensington Czech Slovak Roma Band playing at 5.30pm

Mediating intercultural dialogue at what price?

Sara Wajid and Mike Jempson

“Any kind of harmony in a local community is deeply shaped by the character of the media.”
Bhikhu Parekh, 1 May 2008, Intercultural City Conference, Liverpool.

“If media keep highlighting ugly practices and situations of tension then a mood is created where people say ‘Immigrants are never going to settle and its never going to work’,” the author ofThe Parekh Report, the seminal work on multi-culturalism, told DiverCities . “Media plays a very important part.”

Professor Parekh cites the local media in Leicester as an example of good practice. “The city fathers said (to local media during a period of racial tension) ‘Let’s agree about the kind of Leicester we want; a Leicester in turmoil is not good for anyone’, so the media committed themselves – the editor of the Leicester Mercury in particular – to certain minimum principles, and that helped a great deal.”

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Culture shock

Histoires de choc culturel (le premier et le dernier de votre vie)

Effy Tselikas records first and last encounters with difference
Liverpool 01/05/08


« C’était à Sofia, en période communiste où j’ai passé mon enfance. En sortant de l’école, je voyais souvent des jeunes enfants, des femmes vêtues avec de longues robes bariolées mendier. Je ne comprenais pas ; comment dans mon univers aussi normé, il y avait des gens qui échappaient à la conformité : ne pas travailler, ne pas être habillés de façon sobre, faire la manche, … J’ai demandé une explication à mes parents. Je ne me souviens pas de ce qu’ils m’ont répondu, mais sûrement la même chose que ce que tout le monde pensait à l’époque : ‘Oh, ce sont des Tziganes, des paresseux, des parasites…’ Ce fut ma première expérience de la différence.

« Ma plus récente expérience est plus légère. Lors d’un voyage d’étude dans un pays voisin du mien, qui me semblait appartenir à la même sphère culturelle, la Pologne pour ne pas la nommer, je me suis rendu compte qu’ils n’avaient pas du tout les mêmes horaires de repas que nous. Les séances de travail se succédaient sans fin, j’avais une faim de plus en plus terrible et personne ne semblait vouloir s’arrêter. Finalement, la pause déjeuner est arrivée vers 14h30 de l’après-midi, heure toute à fait méditerranéenne pour un pays situé beaucoup au Nord que le mien (la Bulgarie). »

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Websites I have known and logged

Sara Wajid realises her professional interests coincide with the DiverCities agenda.

As a writer and editor specialising in the history of minorities in Britain, I was excited about the working at the Intercultural Cities Conference – not least because it also gave me a chance to view Liverpool’s much-hyped International Museum of Slavery at The Maritime Museum. The last decade has seen a radical revolution in the heritage sector. Museums and archives are rich resources for stories about nationhood. And, if you ask the right questions and know where to look, they are surprisingly redolent repositories of stories about the long history of immigration. While communities of new and settled migrants are urgently recording their own oral histories, places like The Maritime Museum have begun, imaginatively and creatively, to discharge their duty to tell previously untold histories. The national narratives we choose to recall directly informs our futures together. This shift has coalesced neatly with advances in new technology leading to a tsunami of shiny new mega websites available to all who know they are there.
Here are my intercultural favourites.

Med Voices
The Mediterranean Voices project commenced in June 2002 and represents a three-year ethnographic investigation into the cosmopolitan oral and social histories of 13 historic cites across theMediterranean region, and in particular, certain urban quarters within them.

Moving Here
Discover how and why people came to England over the last 200 years – you can also trace your own roots.

London history told through the eyes of its cultural minorities. Search London museum collections by the diverse ethnic origins of the city’s inhabitants.

Refugee Stories
Stories taken from interviews with over 150 refugees now living in London.

Hidden Histories
Eastside Community Heritage tell the story of the last fifty years of East London


Stories Of London’s Refugees
Oral Histories from the Museum of London’s recent exhibition.

Port Cities – Unearthing Britain’s Maritime Heritage
This packed website offers a great starting place for anyone looking to explore the diverse cultural history of Britain’s great maritime cities, including Liverpool.

Telling the conference story

Telling the conference story
Mike Jempson

The Story Begins
St George’s Hall in the middle of Liverpool is a challenging venue for a 21 century European conference on inter-culturalism. The £23 million spent on its refurbishment has done nothing to eradicate the echoes of empire. Opened in 1854 to house music festivals and a courtroom, it remains an over-powering construction. As we set up our ‘virtual newsroom’ amidst its vast gloomy emptiness we all wondered how we could tell ‘the story’ of inter-culturalism from a city that earned its wealth from the slave trade. Unbeknownst to us Brouhaha troubadours will point the way by the end of the first day.

First things first – film the set up. That’s the easy bit. Then get our disparate team together to compare notes and agree a running order, and film that. All very post-modern. Telling a story about story-telling by showing how the story tellers construct the story.

Nela Milic\'s Installation

And while we are at it, why not an ironic arty ‘installation’ to demonstrate just how disposable our efforts can be – not a cat tray filled with newsprint but a washing line amid drifts of newsprint, so passers-by can wring out the inevitable lies and distortions that emerge when time constraints limit our professionalism, or when profit-making and propaganda overtake the desire to tell the truth.

Discussing the plot

And as for deadlines – the adrenalin pump that keeps we hacks alive – let’s premiere the film at the final session before the delegates depart for home stimulant. In the meantime we’ll pick up stories and quotes and pictures as we come across them. The conference is trying to be different so we can try too – but our trade has its own internal disciplines that are hard to abandon. We have spelled them out in notes for those delegate who want to become citizen journalists while they are here – find the facts, check they are accurate, quote eye-witnesses and reliable sources, construct the story clearly, know your audience, and always distinguish between comment and fact.

Our inter-cultural team has print and broadcast and on-line experience and all the digital paraphernalia of the robo-hack. We hail from Cameroon and Greece and India and Ireland and Pakistan and Serbia. Three men, five women pooling our resources to keep the three days covered inside and outside the conference venue.

Our aim: to collect and disseminate material that speaks of inter-culturalism – the debate, the dilemmas, the diversity – and encourages others (especially our media colleagues) elsewhere to find new ways of making space for those whose voices are seldom heard, and using the immense power of mass media for cohesion instead of confusion.

It would help in the Internet was working, but apparently the City Council is worried we’ll spend the next few days viewing porn and stealing people’s identities. Leave that to the ’techies and get on with the story.

Soon the teams are at work, snapping shots of anyone and anything that takes our fancy, shooting footage that will generate instant nostalgia in just a few days time, interviewing cultural gurus and their acolytes, and listening out for gems of wisdom and the gaffes that make people grin.

We select our storytellers unsure what stories they will tell, and send them off on location to places delegates may see on Saturday, or may never see because the local authorities would prefer we did not disturb their plans to up-end ‘the world in a street’ in the name of regeneration.

Journalism is always about uncovering uncomfortable truths, but is also about telling positive stories too. We set to work, hoping our efforts will bear some fruit, here, there and in cyberspace. The legacy of such conferences now last longer than ever thanks to the information super-highway… if anyone can find the way through the myriad spaghetti junctions and the wayside blogs.

We hope our signals will point the way towards a future where diversity is recognised as a force for good, and where journalism will be appreciated because it allows different voices to emerge from the multitude and contribute to common understanding of our shared humanity.

And, of course, we hope there’ll be applause when our story is screened.

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