CUMEDIAE’s project Intern, Pierre Charles de la Brousse, has prepared an interesting personal reflection on Cultural Heritage and intercultural dialogue. The debate is open!

“It’s not a secret, cities are facing big challenges. In this context,  Literature often uses the concept of “urban resilience”, defined as “the capacity of a city to respond/recover from multiple threats in order to reach a new balance”.

The starting point of my reflexion was: can cultural heritage face this resilience? I mean, cultural heritage in all its forms: intangible and tangible. Intangible Heritage includes living expressions, such as: dance, food, language, music…My feeling is that each person has a story to tell, a “mental place” which contains a (un)known heritage. It’s not always easy in our society to express his own heritage, to tell his own story.

FARO Convention (Council of Europe, 2005) had a revolutionary vision on Cultural Heritage. Its essence was stimulating participation; involving people actively in Cultural Heritage and not as “passive preservation agents”. However, FARO Convention still needs to be well understood and implemented to have a concrete impact on social cohesion.

In my opinion, Brussels is an interesting case-study: indeed, the capital of Europe is a multicultural city with people from various origins and specific Heritages. I used the word “multicultural” on purpose, instead of “intercultural”, because different origins can enrich a city only, when they exceed the multicultural level. Exchanges of experiences between different groups/diasporas have to be better encouraged. That’s a key point to reach the “intercultural” level. Otherwise, each group will stay on its own district, own street, without interacting and without accepting anything different to their own culture. No dialogue may lead to misunderstanding, to suspicion, to inward looking, to xenophobia.

Provoking common understanding or even, the curiosity for what is different, could be ways to stimulate social cohesion. An important target here, should be younger generations. The aim is to make youngsters aware of their own Heritage and of the Heritage of others, share their personal experiences with other cultures and become “heritage transmitters”.

Many levels of dialogue are possible: between diasporas themselves, between “local” people and diasporas, between local heritage and diaspora Heritages, between tangible and intangible Heritage, between young people and elders.

My message to each of us is: don’t be afraid to express your own particularity but, at the same time, remember the importance of the Heritage of your living place and the richness of who’s different from you. Everyone has a story to tell; tell yours and listen to what others can tell you.

Cross the borders and share your heritage!


FARO convention