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Multiculturalism. The Central European Experience and its Impact...

Multiculturalism. The Central European Experience and its Impact...

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Title: Multiculturalism. The Central European
Experience and its Impact on
Identity-Formation in a Globalized World
Author: Veranstalter: Conference in the framework of
Memory – Remembrance – Identity of the Commission
of Culture. Studies and History of Theatre
(Austrian Academy of Sciences) in cooperation
with the Center for Austrian Studies in Minnesota
Datum, Ort: 11.09.2006-14.09.2006, Bellagio
(Italien)
Bericht von: Franz Leander Fillafer, Max-Planck-
Institute for History, Göttingen
Title: Multiculturalism. The Central European
Experience and its Impact on
Identity-Formation in a Globalized World
Author: Veranstalter: Conference in the framework of
Memory – Remembrance – Identity of the Commission
of Culture. Studies and History of Theatre
(Austrian Academy of Sciences) in cooperation
with the Center for Austrian Studies in Minnesota
Datum, Ort: 11.09.2006-14.09.2006, Bellagio
(Italien)
Bericht von: Franz Leander Fillafer, Max-Planck-
Institute for History, Göttingen

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Multiculturalism. The Central European Experience and its Impact on Identity-Formation in aGlobalized World
Multiculturalism. The Central EuropeanExperience and its Impact onIdentity-Formation in a Globalized World
Veranstalter:
Conference in the framework of Memory – Remembrance – Identity of the Com-mission of Culture. Studies and History of Thea-tre (Austrian Academy of Sciences) in cooperationwith the Center for Austrian Studies in Minnesota
Datum, Ort:
11.09.2006-14.09.2006, Bellagio(Italien)
Bericht von:
Franz Leander Fillafer, Max-Planck-Institute for History, GöttingenThis conference
1
aimed at designing a frameworkfor conceptualising, interpreting and explainingmulticultural societies in both historical and theo-retical terms. My report sets out not only to sum-marize the main threads of the conference but alsoto elaborate the conceptual framework and the fu-ture direction of the ongoing project co-organizedby the Commission for Culture Studies and theHistory of Theatre of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna) and the Center for AustrianStudies (Minneapolis).The initial Bellagio meeting sought to scru-tinize the procedures, practices and languagesof identity-formation, assimilation/dissimilationand acculturation in multi-lingual and multi-confessional regions and states. As envisaged inthe program the conference participants scrutini-zed the „methodological nationalism“ (JohannesFeichtinger) that permeates current political andscholarly categories of analysis around multicultu-ral societies. Many of these presuppositions rest onthe idea that the nation-state constitutes a naturaland desirable outcome of historical development.This way of thinking produces a belief that thevictorious nation state is characterized by its pro-gressive nature, while viewing polycentric statesas gridlocked, ramshackle and ultimately „weakstates,”
2
whose polities are not based on a clearset of principles or whose principles fail to per-colate into the intellectual and social structuresand environments of their citizens. Currently, thenation-state is often praised as the cornerstone of 
1
I am pleased to express my gratitude to Pieter M. Judson forhis invaluable help in the course of preparing this report.
2
Shalini Randeria offers a redescription of pluricultural statesas „cunning states“, ead.: Cunning states and unaccountableinternational institutions. Social Movements and the Rightsof Local Communities to Common Property Resources in:European Journal of Sociology 16 (2003), 1, S. 27-60.
a free and safe global order. In light of the emer-gence of new global players, the power of post-national (or indeed pre-national) structures of alle-giance and power hierarchies, however, it seemsparticularly beneficial to re-examine „pluricultu-ral“
3
models of negotiation, mutual accommoda-tion and syncretistic identities to the nation-state.
4
To point out the necessity of scrutinizing the roleof the nation-state – also as crucial presuppositionand operative objective of democracy-building andlaw-enforcement – may not mistaken as superficialpolitical justification of the historical and theoreti-cal framework designed in the course of the con-ference: The broader political implications of theresearch presented at the conference merit furtherexploration; e.g. the identity formation of migrantdenominations both in Europe and North Ameri-ca and of various „hyphenized“ groups, with theirself-descriptions, styles and strategies of identitypolitics in the U.S. (Michelle M. Wright).The participants attempted to explore and refinetheir theoretical apparatus using case-studies fromCentral Europe (Istria, Transylvania, Trieste, Tren-to, Bohemia, Slovenia, Galicia, Bukowina, Hunga-ry), from India, and from the Ottoman Empire. Theworkshop produced a useful revision and exten-sion of the initially proposed scope of the confe-rence: Firstly, the common task of conceptual cla-rification and concretisation became increasinglysignificant in the light of the various ramificationsof judicial, educational, sociological and religiousconcepts and topical fields explored in the mee-ting; secondly, the organisers and participants de-cided to broaden the project’s further purview, ai-ming at a comparative global scale (including e.g.facets of multiculturalism in Russia and South Af-rica).I)The conference was indeed path-breaking in thatit applied the tenets of cultural theory on multi-culturalism to reconstructions of tangible histori-cal circumstances that involved differing social,
3
Compare Anil Bhatti: Cultural Homogenisation, Places of memory, and the Loss of Secular Urban Space in HelmuthBerking, Sybille Frank, Lars Frers, Martina Löw, Lars Mei-er, Silke Steets, Sergej Stoetzer (eds.): Negotiating UrbanConflicts. Interaction, Space and Control, Bielefeld 2006, S.67-81 and id.: Kulturelle Vielfalt und Homogenisierung inJohannes Feichtinger, Ursula Prutsch, Moritz Csáky (eds.):Habsburg postcolonial. Zentraleuropa – Orte Innerer Koloni-sierung?, Innsbruck, Vienna, Munich 2003, S. 55-67.
4
Take the case of e.g. the mufti of the Muslim brotherhood inEgypt issuing a fatwa in the course of the Muhammad car-toon rows.
© H-Net, Clio-online, and the author, all rights reserved.
 
confessional and political contexts. Reappraisingand scrutinizing the legacy of multicultural empi-res (Habsburg Monarchy, India, Ottoman Empire)did not mean succumbing to nostalgic mirages. Se-veral presentations demonstrated that imperial im-peratives and strategies of consolidation or coer-cion, which often both presupposed and constitu-ted the existence of allegedly homogeneous eth-nic,confessionalorprestige-basedgroups(castes
5
,
millets
, monolithic religions [Hinduism],
Staats-volk 
6
), warrant closer examination. It also be-came obvious that we need to locate particularpower-bargaining, trade-offs, and reciprocal arran-gements
among 
these groups as well within multi-cultural and multiconfessional states
7
(Fikret Ada-nir)(e.g.thatthereareparochial,particularistiden-tities on a local level opposed to intrusions of acentralizing state but also opposed to neighbou-ring groups). Thus identity and self-identificationbecame key notions throughout the meeting. The-se enabled the participants to explain how variousidentities (empire/state vs. regional, ethnical group
5
See Shalini Randeria: Kastensolidarität als Modus zi-vilgesellschaftlicher Bindungen? Selbstorganisation undRechtspluralismus im (post)kolonialen Indien in Dieter Go-sewinkel et al. (eds.): Zivilgesellschaft – national und trans-national (Jahrbuch des Wissenschaftszentrums Berlin 2003),Berlin 2004.
6
For this tenet of self-stylization among e.g. – crudely put– emancipated Jewry in the Habsburg Monarchy, see OskarGrün: Franz Joseph der Erste in seinem Verhältnis zu den Ju-den, Zurich, 1916 and David Rechter: Kaisertreu. The Dyna-stic Loyalty of Austrian Jewry in Klaus Hödl (ed.): JüdischeIdentitäten: Einblicke in die Bewußsteinslandschaft des ös-terreichischen Judentums, Innsbruck 2000, S. 189-208, com-pare Joseph Roth’s memorable description of the flock of rabbis courting Francis Joseph on the manoeuvres in Galicia(Radetzkymarsch
[1932]
Munich 1994, S. 269-271); gene-rally on the imagery of Francis Joseph as overarching iden-tifying figure of the Monarchy as represented in hindsight inthe Austrian literature of the interwar period Leopold R. De-cloedt: Imago Imperatoris. Franz Joseph in der österreichi-schen Belletristik der Zwischenkriegszeit, Vienna, 1995. Thecommemoration of the emperor - as transnational Central-European lieu de mémoire – would merit comparative ef-forts.
7
See further Fikret Adanir: Die Schulbildung in Griechenland(1750-1830) und Bulgarien (1750-1878) im Spannungsfeldder ethnisch-konfessionellen Identität, Entstehung der bür-gerlichen Gesellschaft und Herausbildung des Nationalbe-wußtseins in: Wolfgang Schmale, Nan L. Dodde (eds.): Re-volution des Wissens? Europa und seine Schulen im Zeitalterder Aufklärung 1750-1825. Ein Handbuch zur europäischenSchulgeschichte, Bochum 1991, S. 431-466 and for the issueof the Partriarchate and dissolution of the Ottoman Empireand its implication for the millets id.: Der Zerfall des Osma-nischen Reiches in Alexander Demandt (ed.): Das Ende derWeltreiche. Von den Persern bis zur Sowjetunion, Munich1997, S. 108-128.
a vs. ethnical group b, confession x vs. confessiony) were historically non-exclusive, how they hadoften coexisted without causing the kind of fric-tion or (retroactive) claims to superiority that na-tionalist political agitators later claimed for them,as in the case of mutual relations on the „langua-ge frontiers“ in the 19th century Habsburg Monar-chy (Pieter M. Judson
8
) and the nationalist focuson schooling as a means to spread national identi-ties and thus promote conflict among groups. Thehistorically widespread
syncretistic 
ability to mas-ter the codes necessary to move in a plurilingualand polycentric society („code-switching“) has be-en dubbed pluriculturalism (Anil Bhatti), a pheno-menon necessarily and conveniently to be distin-guished from multiculturalism. It is beneficial andimportant to juxtapose the concepts of multicul-turalism and pluriculturalism which should not beconfused: The capability to manoeuvre in a
com- plex 
,
syncretistic cultural system
, as pivot of a va-rietyofallegiances,loyaltiesandoverlappingiden-tifications should be clearly distinguished – with-out nostalgia – from a
coexistence 
of petrified, tor-pid groups.The term Multiculturalism elicits several asso-ciations, from lofty political manifestos to acade-mic „culture wars“. Indeed, as the contributions tothe meeting made clear , the term multiculturalismcould and can – both historically and theoretical-ly, – function as a double-edged weapon: It canexert oppression in that it constitutes groups in anexclusionary sense, congeals categories in the ri-gidification of its compact, prevents some groupsfrom participating in its framework, (as PamelaBallinger demonstrated in her studies on Istria
9
),supports a kind of crypto-assimilation to recogni-zed groups for the sake of expediency, and it canproduce perpetually compartmentalized „back-to-back“ societies (Shalini Randeria).
10
The meeting made clear that both Europe andthe former European colonies may be viewed asbeing in an entangled „postcolonial“ condition –
8
See Pieter M. Judson: Guardians of the Nation. Activists onthe Language Frontiers of Imperial Austria, Harvard 2006.
9
Pamela Ballinger: History in Exile. Memory and Identity atthe Borders of the Balkans, Princeton 2002.
10
Compare e.g. Jeremy King on the work of disentanglementof unequivocal identities broken down into distinct nationa-lities: Budweisers into Czechs and Germans. A Local His-tory of Bohemian Politics 1848-1948, Princeton 2005, andthe power-bargaining in the course of the Moravian compro-mise, T. Mills Kelly: Last best chance or last gasp? The com-promise of 1905 and Czech politics in Moravia in: AustrianHistory Yearbook 34 (2003), S. 279-301.
© H-Net, Clio-online, and the author, all rights reserved.
 
Multiculturalism. The Central European Experience and its Impact on Identity-Formation in aGlobalized World
and it also clarified that one might think of the aut-horitiesoftheempiresunderpurviewasinstigatinga process of „inner colonization“.
11
The concreteelaboration of incentives of coercion and commonwealth in bureaucracy and of identifications forgedin literature in the future project will show whe-ther the presupposition of „inner colonization“ isappropriate.Another field that warrants meticulous exami-nation are the methodological prerequisites, schol-arly presuppositions and categories
12
that shapedimperial bureaucracies and the implications thesecategories had for intercultural cohabitation: bothin the processes of colonization – in the case of the Indian Raj with the
Land Survey of India 
andmany studies in demography, social structure andreligious preponderances – and in the case of in-stilling and inoculating an overarching composite
gesamtstaatlich
identity in the Habsburgs on a po-pular scale, e.g. with the
Kronprinzenwerk 
.
13
II)The conference identified several crucial ongoingspheres of interest that the participants plan to ex-plore in future stages of the project, among them:1) The creation of minorities- horizontal (spa-tial) and vertical (social) differentiation
14
in a mul-tilinguistic, multiconfessional state, a „minority“in one region is a „majority“ in another region,with all hostilities, frictions, idiosyncracies thismight yield – this does
not 
necessarily imply in-vocations of hegemony or beneficial patronage bya strong intercessor group from common descent(forming a majority in another region of the sa-me state). How does this situation of minoritieschange after the collapse of the pluricultural stateto which they had hitherto belonged? Successorstates build on clear cut identification of minori-ties (drawing on the statistical material collected
before 
their creation), and subsequently grapplewith problems of identification, schooling, langua-
11
See Johannes Feichtinger, Ursula Prutsch, Moritz Csáky(eds.): Habsburg postcolonial (supra nota 2).
12
ForIndiaseeMatthewEdney:MappinganEmpire:TheGeo-graphic Construction of British India, 1765-1843, Chicago,London 1997.
13
For gesamtstaatlich and nationalism in scholarly compendiain the Habsburg Monarchy see contributions in Endre Kisset al (eds.): Nation und Nationalismus in wissenschaftlichenStandardwerken Österreich-Ungarns ca. 1867-1918, Vienna1997 and, most recently, Endre Kiss, Justin Stagl (eds.): Na-tion und Nationenbildung in Österreich-Ungarn 1848-1938.Prinzipien und Methoden, Vienna, Münster 2006.
14
Compare Moritz Csáky: Kultur, Kommunikation und Iden-tität in der Moderne in: Moderne. KulturwissenschaftlichesJahrbuch 1 (2005), S. 108-24.
ge and religious divergences. The apportionmentof parliamentary representation as minority couldcongeal nationality-patterns and result in the crea-tion of ethno-religious parties.2) The official
premise of 
and
request 
for re-ciprocal authorities/representation
15
when dealingwith minorities: The state demands a counterpartfor negotiation – a tolerable interlocutor createdfrom straw anticipating the state’s expectations
16
;this problem impinges on issues e.g. of Muslimschooling and religious prerogatives in many Eu-ropean countries
17
: There is a salient asymmetryin the degrees of organisation, and it would be be-neficial to scrutinize the arbitrariness of bestowingthe role of a representative/spokesperson for a co-herent, consistent „group“.3) The need to distinguish between processesofassimilationandacculturation:Assimilationaff-licts the assimilator and the assimilated (via com-pensatory self-stylisation and anticipative allegian-ce
18
). It is also important to chisel out the politicalaspect of assimilation, being stigmatized as insuf-ficient attempt at levelling and accommodation byirredeemably different „others“.III)The considerations suggested here, bothconceptual-theoretical and historical, will as-sume crucial importance as the project proceeds.Under the auspices of the Rockefeller Foun-dation, the meeting clearly understood its taskto create conceptual schemes of interculturalnegotiating and identity-formation. Followingthese guidelines, the future project will accen-tuate problem-solving efforts that circumventthe procrustean strictures of national narratives.The issues at stake – universalist principles of human rights, law enforcement and democracybuilding as Europeans and Americans respondto the challenges of migration and integration –will continue to inform the project’s efforts evenmore strongly, as it adds further fields of inquiry.
15
See Muslim Council Britain, Islamische Glaubensgemein-schaft in Österreich, respective websites and publications.
16
Compare the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board(MINAB) created as quasi-autonomous nongovernmentalexpert authority in the United Kingdom in spring 2006 toensure „best practice“ for the teaching and preaching acti-vities of British mosques; see http://www.mcb.org.uk/article_detail.php?article=announcement-567 (18.12.2006).
17
See Tahir Abbas: Muslims in Britainand the decline of civilliberties: the national debate in: Vista: Perspectives on Pro-bation Criminal Justice and Civil Renewal 9 (2004), 3, S.169-172.
18
See again Csáky: Kultur, Kommunikation und Identität (su-pra nota 13).
© H-Net, Clio-online, and the author, all rights reserved.

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