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Adventures in Diversity

New Avenues for the Dialogue between Cultures

Traugott Schoefthaler: Adventures in Diversity. New Avenues for the Dialogue between Cultures. Bonn: German Commission for UNESCO, 2007.
176 p.
ISBN 3-927907-99-5

Strategies, methods and contents of a meaningful dialogue are centred on multiple, dynamic and overlapping cultural identities. This book is an invitation to leave the beaten tracks of dialogue events entertained by "representatives" of cultural or religious organizations. The key concept is cultural diversity between and within societies. Cultural policies can support human development as "a process enlarging people’s choices", following orientations provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNESCO. To mark the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 2008, the author calls for renewed commitment to universal values as a "common standard to be achieved by all nations and peoples", and not as "European values", separating Europe from other regions.

Traugott Schoefthaler, born 1949, was from 2004 to 2007 the first Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, established in Alexandria, Egypt, by the EU Member States and their ten Mediterranean partners. He developed and tested the strategies and methods presented in this book in close cooperation with other institutions and organizations. He is theologian and sociologist and obtained his PhD for cross-cultural research. He started his career in the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education and served more than 20 years the United Nations and UNESCO. From 1993 to 2004, he was Secretary-General of the German Commission for UNESCO.

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I. Strategies

1. What went wrong with the Dialogue between Cultures?

2. Revitalizing the Dialogue between Cultures

2.1 A Post-Cartoon Strategy, with comments by the Euro-Med Non-Governmental Platform and Abdul Aziz Saïd

2.2 ALECSO and ISESCO: The Dialogue with the Other. Principles and Recommendations by a Group of Experts

2.3 Muhammad Shaaban: Defamation of Islam and Dialogue between Cultures

2.4 Mobility in the Euro-Mediterranean Region

2.5 Preliminary Conclusions

3. What needs to be changed

3.1 Alisa Ginio, Marie-Therèse Foblets and Tuomo Melasuo: Meaningful Dialogue

3.2 Salvatore Bono: Mediterranean Dialogue is Unique

3.3 Gema Martin Muñoz: Inclusion within Diversity and Citizenship Rights

3.4 Anna Lindh Foundation and the Arab League: Overcoming major misconceptions between Europe and the Islamic World. Recommendations by a High Level Group of Experts

3.5 Erkki Tuomioja: Reconciling Differences

II. Themes

4. Gender and Culture

4.1 Understanding gender and intercultural relations

4.2 Misunderstandings about Gender Equality and Islamic Feminism

4.3 Helen Hajjaj: Equality in the Name of Islam

5. Learning about Cultural Diversity

5.1 Cultural Diversity for All

5.2 Learning Dialogue Skills

5.3 Diversity, not Political Correctness – Benchmarks for Quality Journalism

6. Religions don’t Dialogue, Believers can

6.1 Paolo Dall’Oglio: There is no peace without mutual respect amongst people of different religious or any other belief

6.2 Abdul Aziz Saïd and Paolo Dall’Oglio: Interreligious and/or Intercultural Dialogue?

6.3 Cardinal Errors

III. Challenges for Europe

7. Richard Youngs and Traugott Schoefthaler: The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: Success or Failure?

8. The European Values Dilemma: Laicity and Religious Cultures

9. From Tolerance to Hospitality 

Postscript: Lessons from Alexandria 




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