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Religion and Society

Explorations of Multiculuralism

Author: C. Vigna and S. Zamagni



Title: Multiculturalismo e identità


Publisher: Vita&Pensiero, Milan, 2002



Author: P. Gomarasca


Title: I confini dell'altro


Publisher: Vita&Pensiero, Milan, 2004



Author: V. Cesareo


Title: L'Altro. Identità, dialogo e conflitto nella società plurale


Publisher: Vita&Pensiero, Milan, 2004



Old Europe is living a new season as the loved and hated epicentre of a major migration of peoples in search of a better life. There thus arises the problem of establishing the correct relationship between the need to draw up a shared code of co-existence and the requirements of ethnic-cultural multiplicity.



A number of publications of the publishers Vita & Pensiero (Milan) deal with this question. For example, the bookMulticulturalismo e identità, edited by C. Vigna and S. Zamagni (2002), starts with the observation that the debate on the subject seems to oscillate between two extremes that are difficult to reconcile: specific values (ethnic group, nation, civilisation, tradition) as against universal values (reason, freedom, human rights, humanity). The fragility of both these solutions, which nonetheless contain their own truth, has become very evident. The approach, carried forward through a multiplicity of issues (the universality of rights, migratory flows, global citizenship, the public role of religion, the politics of identity), amounts to the principle of the reciprocity of recognising each other, which in turn constitutes the architecture of the meaning of our relationships.



This principle is what P. Gomarasca in I confini dell'altro. Etica dello spazio multiculturale (2004) tries to justify from an ethical and juridical-political point of view as a basis for possible co-existence with foreigners. The point of departure is critical: the various attempts to solve the problem have been influenced by the individualistic way in which modernity has thought about the subject. This is seen well when we analyse the concept of 'frontier'. The frontier, indeed, constitutes the concrete space in which modern individualism brought about the fundamental fracture between 'us' and 'them', thereby supporting the illusion that we are able to do without other people. An anthropological alternative is thus needed that sees the relationship with other people as a primary good of subjectivity because it is human. Indeed, only beginning with the ethics of relationships is it possible to conceive and implement a policy involving the real acceptance of foreigners. A policy that does not involve an indiscriminate openness of frontiers, a one-way generosity, but the implementation of ties of recognition that involve both those who give and those who receive in a common work of being-together.



This is certainly a demanding task and a task that at a concrete level becomes a search for the conditions which make possible intercultural dialogue. It is no accident that the book L'Altro. Identità, dialogo e conflitto nella società plurale, edited by V. Cesareo (2004), focuses attention on the subject of otherness. Indeed, this constitutes the base for every intercultural approach because it strives to respond to the problem of the existence of others and of co-existence with others. However, this book is first and foremost a research experiment: the participants in the project chose to come together and to work from the outset as an interdisciplinary group. This group, beginning with the respective scientific skills and expertise of its members, sought to engage in a constant and systematic interaction between different methodologies and a variety of (philosophical, historical, sociological, mass media, pedagogic and theological) approaches, thereby encountering the other within the context of work and the field of research as well.



It is to be hoped that inquiries such as this will give rise to a renewed policy that is up to the task that the encounter between cultures now imposes upon us.