4.2.7 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes
As Italy still tends to deal with the most recent migratory waves in terms of a "socio-economic emergency", it is hardly surprising that no clear vision of the policy challenges posed by the "new" forms of cultural diversity has been developed, nor any comprehensive cultural policy document drafted, most notably at a national level.
Due to its relatively short history as a country of immigration and to the constantly shifting moods of political coalitions, Italy's "model of integration" is more difficult to pinpoint than in other European countries. The prevailing trend at the state level has, so far, been to devise policies promoting a balance between the safeguarding of identity and integration: the creation of a Council for Italian Islam (see below) is a case in point, aiming at a "harmonious incorporation" of the Muslim component within Italian society.
In Italy, immigration and integration policies have been primarily entrusted to the Ministry of the Interior, which is also the main body responsible for the government's legislative initiatives (see chapter 4.2.4). As the Ministry's official website reads, "migration policies have two main objectives: to ensure order and public safety through combating illegal immigration; to ease regular immigrants' reception and integration, thereby guaranteeing social cohesion". The Ministry's Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration is also responsible for the safeguarding of civil rights with regard to immigration, asylum, citizenship, religious faiths and "historical" linguistic minorities. In 2005, the Ministry set up a Council for Italian Islam, to gain advice on policies regarding Muslim immigration in Italy and civil rights issues. As the Council faced growing problems due to its Muslim Brotherhood component (UCOII), some of its most moderate members decided to pursue separate negotiations with the Ministry and create a new organisation called the Federation of Italian Islam, aiming at becoming the body that will eventually sign the intesa (agreement) with the Italian state.
A new key actor is the Ministry for International Cooperation and Integration, set up by Mario Monti's government, which, alongside the "Integration agreement" jointly promoted with the Ministry of the Interior (see chapter 4.2.4), recently issued a "National Strategy for the inclusion of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti communities" in compliance with the European Commission communication n. 173/2011. The Strategy is the joint effort of the newly created Ministry with the Ministries of the Interior, Labour and Social Policies, Health, Education, University and Research, Justice, as well as with representatives from local administrations and Roma and Sinti communities (http://www.cooperazioneintegrazione.gov.it/news/2012/02/strategiaitalianarom.aspx).
Another important actor is the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, which through its DG Immigration is responsible, alongside the planning of migrant workers' flows, for the coordination of policies aimed at promoting the integration of migrant communities (e.g. cultural mediation activities, language courses, courses on Italian culture and civics).
As the steady increase of migratory flows, in recent years, has had its most dramatic impact on the make-up of the school population (see chapter 4.2.4), it is not surprising that the Ministry of Education, University and Research is another key player in the promotion of intercultural dialogue in Italy. It's Memorandum "Intercultural dialogue and democratic coexistence" was a groundbreaking document when it was drafted (1994), and today still provides the clearest guidelines in Italy for understanding intercultural education as a dialogical and transformative process (see chapter 8.3.3).
A relevant role in enhancing intercultural dialogue through technical and financial assistance and capacity building in heritage matters is also played by the Ministry for Heritage and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see chapter 3.4.5).
Lastly, the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities has actively contributed, along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the ratification of both the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (February 2007) and the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (September 2007), but has just started to engage in promoting broader access and participation of immigrant communities in the country's cultural life. Following the Ministry's programme as Italy's National Coordination Body for the European Union's 2008 Year of Intercultural Dialogue, no coherent set of policies have yet been put in place, although some of its DGs are starting to actively engage in the promotion of cultural integration and inclusion:
Regional, Provincial and Local Authorities
The most interesting cultural programmes and pilot projects in Italy to foster intercultural dialogue are being undertaken at the local level, through the initiative of particular configurations of local authorities, non-governmental institutions and civil society.
The City of Turin, for instance, set up in 2004 a Department for Heritage Education which is strongly committed to exploring new models of intercultural communication in museums through the development of pluriennial programmes such as "Heritage for all" (see http://www.ismu.org/patrimonioeintercultura/index.php?page=esperienze-show.php&id=29) and by participating in a number of projects funded by the European Commission as part of the Grundtvig Lifelong Learning Programme (e.g. "MAP for ID – Museums as Places for Intercultural Dialogue" – http://www.mapforid.it – and "MTMS – Museums Tell Many Stories" projects), which allowed the Department to support several pilot projects of intercultural heritage education in local museums. Although severe cuts in the City's budget for culture are currently restricting the Department's activities, the legacy of its continued engagement since 2004 is apparent in the partnerships created and nurtured throughout the years between museums, schools, centres for adult education and learning, social and welfare agencies.
Some examples of regional legislation to promote intercultural dialogue are provided in chapter 4.2.4. In the past decade, Regione Puglia has been devoting particular attention also to the transnational dimension of intercultural dialogue through Regional Law 20/2003 ("Partnership for cooperation"), the creation of the Department for the Mediterranean, Culture and Tourism, and the support of projects such as "Nomad Scene", promoting exchanges between artists and cultural operators, theatre workshops and performances in Puglia, Serbia and Albania, also with the involvement of the Roma community of the city of Smederevo (2006-2007), and "Brothers-Bracia", promoting the social inclusion of young Serbs and Roma through arts and culture (2011) (for both projects and many others, see http://www.europuglia.it/, "Cooperazione Regionale" section).
Intercultural education is at the heart of several programmes and activities carried out by individual schools and Intercultural Centres; although the latter term is used to describe a range of very different organisations, the prevailing typology is represented by documentation centres, set up by provincial and local administrations and primarily targeted at teachers and educators (for an updated map of intercultural centres in Italy see http://www.comune.torino.it/intercultura/s1.asp?p1=LINKS&p2=Centri%20Interculturali%20in%20Italia&temp=_home).
In the past years, several Regions and Provinces across Northern and Central Italy have also created Observatories on Immigration with the twofold purpose of monitoring the migratory flows and of assisting regional and local administrations in devising sensible immigration policies. These bodies, however, tend to address the typical issues of employment, housing, healthcare and formal education, and do not consider culture as an area of concern. Fondazione ISMU, Regione Lombardia's partner in the Osservatorio Regionale per l'Integrazione e la Multietnicità, is one interesting exception, as it has been developing a new area of research and training since 2005, aimed at exploring the potential contribution of heritage institutions in promoting a better integration of migrant communities (S. Bodo, Cantù, Mascheroni, 2007; S. Bodo, Mascheroni, 2012).
Fondazione ISMU's case history also introduces us to the role of private actors in addressing the issue of intercultural dialogue, which has grown significantly in the past decade in Italy.
Catholic charities such as Caritas Italiana make a significant contribution, both in providing assistance and services to the "new citizens" and in disseminating knowledge on migration patterns and key issues affecting the country. With its yearly Dossier statistico sull'immigrazione, Caritas' Centre of Studies and Documentation is one of the most reliable and comprehensive sources of information on immigration in Italy. In the past fifteen years, Caritas Diocesana of Rome has been promoting the Forum per l'Intercultura, one of Italy's main intercultural education programmes, which explores different aspects of the immigrant communities' cultures, including art, cinema and literature.
Several documentation centres, mostly created by NGOs and Catholic or lay associations (e.g. the documentation centre of the Rome-based Archivio dell'Immigrazione), also make an important contribution to intercultural awareness-building by offering scholars and researchers, operators and ordinary citizens materials on the history, sociology, politics and culture of the migrant communities' countries of origin, as well as on multicultural society at large.
An increasingly important role in promoting immigrant communities' cultures in the host country, as well as the accessibility of Italian culture for foreign residents, is played by associations, both foreign and Italian. It is not easy to provide a reliable estimate on the number of such associations: some are nation-based; some were established to co-ordinate initiatives aimed at communities belonging to the same continent, or at promoting inter-community relationships. Across Italy there is a growing demand for formal recognition (and increased legitimacy) of these representative bodies of migrant communities, for example through the creation of a register of associations.
Last but not least, places of worship provide key spaces and opportunities for social and cultural interaction, where language courses, cultural and sport events, theatre and music performances are organised alongside catechism, sung masses and religious festivities.
Strategies and programmes
While witnessing the growing interest of both public and private actors in the issue of intercultural dialogue, cultural policies still play a very marginal role in integration processes.
The field in which cultural institutions in Italy have been more active in supporting cultural diversity is the promotion of a better understanding and greater recognition of other cultures, most notably through the organisation of festivals (e.g. world culture festivals at the Auditorium-Music Park in Rome; "Suq" Festival in Genoa; African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival in Milan) or the mounting of blockbuster exhibitions. Most of these initiatives, however, are distinguished by a will not so much to encourage immigrant communities' cultural participation, as to promote a "knowledge-oriented" multiculturalism directed principally at the Italian public.
As for the emergence of innovative intercultural forms, "social theatre" is by far the most interesting and experimental field on the Italian cultural scene, with well-established companies such as Teatro dell'Angolo in Turin, Teatro delle Albe in Ravenna, Teatro di Nascosto in Volterra (see chapter 4.2.8). In cities like Milan, Rome and Genoa, there are a growing number of theatre / hip-hop / spoken word projects developed by second-generation migrant youths, denouncing their own condition of "outsiders" in Italian society. Another interesting phenomenon is the creation of "multiethnic orchestras" in several Italian cities (Milan, Turin, Genoa, Padua, Trento, Naples), following the great national and international success of the Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio (Rome).
"Migrant literature" in Italian language is being promoted through specialist book publishers (e.g. Sinnos Editrice in Rome), websites (e.g. El Ghibli), anthologies and awards (e.g. Mantua-based "Eks&tra" and "Tracce diverse" in Naples). The same is increasingly the case also for youth creativity (see for example the "Crossmode" award or the on-line network "G2-Seconde generazioni").
A growing number of examples of groundbreaking intercultural work may also be highlighted in the museum field, in spite of the highly conservative nature of this sector (see Fondazione ISMU's website "Patrimonio e Intercultura", http://fondazione.ismu.org/patrimonioeintercultura, available also in English).
Interesting examples of trans-border intercultural dialogue are Fondazione Pistoletto's "Love Difference - Artistic Movement for an Inter Mediterranean Politic", aiming to bring together people and institutions of the Mediterranean regions interested in opening new areas of thinking on multiculturalism (http://www.lovedifference.org), and "Others Resident" (2010-2011), an exchange programme of artists' residencies promoted by Museo Riso of Contemporary Art (Palermo) in cooperation with the Mediterranean Biennales of Istanbul, Marrakech and Athens (http://www.teknemedia.net/archivi/2010/10/01/mostra/42871.html).