World Day for Cultural Diversity

Today is World Day for Cultural Diversity. May 21 was initiated by the United Nations in 2002 as a day for the promotion of diversity and intercultural dialogue. Having dialogues is essential in understanding each other. The current developments and turmoil in the world show how important dialogue remains to stay connected.

At Vital Cities and Citizens (VCC) Erasmus Initiative a lot of research is done on benefits and challenges of culturally diverse cities. We would like to introduce you to Isabel Awad who is associate professor in the department of Media and Communication and a VCC lead on Inclusive Cities and Diversity.

Isabel, can you tell us a bit more about your research, especially on cultural diversity? 

“I am interested in how cultural diversity translates into issues of social justice. Communication plays a central role here. In my research, I have looked at how migrants, people in poverty, racialised communities, and others are talked about in public discourse (in the media, but also in policy and academic scholarship) and crucially, at strategies to counter dominant representations. Right now, in Rotterdam, for example, we are studying the language some civic society organisations use in their challenges for a more inclusive city.”

Why are days like World Day for Cultural Diversity, and for example Diversity Day, important? 

“I hope they are important, but we should not take that for granted. “Diversity” is a tricky word. There is much research showing how the term is commonly used to sell “exotic” food, clothing styles, and tourism. It can even help silence actual talk about inequalities and demands for social justice, precisely the things that I hope we engage with in a day like today and always.”

For us at IDEA Center, cultural diversity takes center stage every day, today we are putting extra spotlight on it.

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