Posts Tagged 'culture'

The Band….

On the opening night of the Intercultural Cities conference, there was a party at Liverpool Town Hall. These great images were taken by Martin Pinder’s team. Text by Martin Pinder.

East Meets West

“A local Liverpool Roma Band from Kensington played for Conference delegates at Liverpool Town Hall on Wednesday night at a Welcome Reception headed by Liverpool City Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Colin Hilton. ‘Gypsy Brothers’ come from Kensington, L6 and L7, an Inner City neighbourhood which is participating in the European Year of Dialogue Conference in Liverpool on ‘Inter-Cultural Cities’. The Band hails from the Czech Republic and Slovakia and came over to Liverpool since the EU Accession in May 2004 when some 10? countries including the Czech Republic and Slovakia joined the European Union.”

Father and Son

“Band leader and bass guitarist Jan Bendig Snr ( left, background ) is shown here with his son, Jan Bendig Jnr singer (foreground), when they performed with their ‘Gypsy Brothers’ band at Liverpool Town Hall on Wednesday night. Romas ( “gypsies” ) migrated from Radjisthan and Punjab, India, centuries ago to Europe and beyond where they have influence music not only in Europe ( flamenco) but also in North Africa and South America. Indian culture is traditionally passed on from parent to sibling, often with certain castes specialising in different fields. This tradition lives on with the Bendig family in Kensington, Liverpool, where they live. Jan Bendig, son, is a pupil at the Kensington Academy of St Francis of Assisi and sings in Czech and the Roma languages. Jan looks forwad to mastering song in English.”

Music Has No Frontiers

“A full-turn out of East and Central Europeans was present at Liverpool Town Hall on Wednesday night when the local Liverpool Roma Band from Kensington played for Conference delegates at a Welcome Reception. ‘Gypsy Brothers’ are shown here with guest-of-honour Dr Vladimir Sucha, Director for Culture Communication and Multilingualism at the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission. Dr Sucha from Slovakia was pleased to see fellow Slovakians and Czechs who make up the band spreading his region’s culture in Liverpool. From left to right, Ales Olah guitar; Geoffrey Brown, Director of EUCLID, organisers of the Inter-Culutural Cities Conference; Rene Gabor drums; Dr Valdimir Sucha; Jan Bendig Jnr, singer; Mario Zeman, guitar; Jan Bendig Snr, band leader and guitar.”

Larger versions of these images available at


My reflections

A fascinating event that has stimulated lots of thoughts and generated some questions for me:-

Is interculturalism desirable?

Why do we want or need intercultralism?

Whose interests does interculturalism serve?

Is interculturalism just a new term for long standing issues? I’ve noticed, for example, that more than one speaker seems to use interculturalism interchangeably with ‘diversity’.

There’s also a sense that interculturalism seems very ‘problem centred’, with the emphasis on conflict or even ‘hatred’ between communities, strangers not getting on, etc.

I share with Bikhu Parekh and Ash Amin a concern about taking interculturalism outside its political and national context. For me, I’d come to see interculturalism as a framework to get beyond the idea of cultures as fixed and immutable, with people locked in boxes or silos defined by their ethnic cultures. In this sense, interculturalism seemed to me to be about how cultures are continually shaped, reshaped and changed, new fusions are borne out of a dynamic process of interaction where people come to form a new sense of belonging around ‘place’ while still being able to assert their own self-defined identity – as black woman, disabled person, Muslim young person.

Some of today’s presentations however seem to take us back to notions of ‘them’ and ‘us’, giving greater value to ‘host’ cultures as somehow more pure and talked about ‘tribal cultures’ clashing with dominant host cultures, which I found disturbing. To what extent this is raising a wider question of whether or not we can engage in intercultural dialogue across national boundaries where language and political contexts are so different is one of the issues that I think needs to be considered. At the very least I think there is a need for a common and shared language to enable effective and meaningful dialogue and debate to take place with people from across different nations.

One final point, there has so far been a complete lack of mention of human rights in the debate. Is this absence an oversight? Do we see human rights as integral to the interculturalism debate and if so, we need to ensure it has a highe profile and visibility in future dialogues.

Lorna Shaw

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