Lanna Idriss

Cultural participation is not just a periodic human right

Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to be part of scientific achievements and its benefits.

Anyone who is serious about cultural participation must always be ready to give room. Otherwise it will be a little crowded in the palaces of the arts. When people, regardless of their motives, leave their country and decide to live in Germany, Great Britain or France, they then have the passive and active right to participate in the cultural life of their new home. Now it turns out that the people who are already there and directing the scene, those who are active — or those who are entertained by music in the opera – who are passive – often have no lasting personal interest of newcomers to participate in ‘their’ cultural life. This can be perceived in the different defense strategies they use. Let’s look at these few examples;

Most widespread is the ‘artistic devaluation’, where the ‘other’ artist is described as underdeveloped, one-dimensional, flat, too aesthetic and so on. Within this paradigm the art world is using its own exclusive language, a language designed to satisfy an intellectual affirmation mania. And this is now available for newcomers as a foreign language. There isn´t any other, more efficient strategy to ban someone from the field. Even if this new language can´t be understood, it is equally violent.

Another popular scenario is the ‘artistic alibi representative’. In order to maintain the right level of diversity in a politically correct manner, the cultural sector is gladly seeking alibi representatives. An example would be a participant in a panel discussion. Most of the time this comes down to exactly one person, even if this person unfortunately doesn´t meet all the diversity criteria: female, PoC, Muslim. This spec would be perfect but as so often complained, it is unfortunately a rare find. This is not cultural participation. The terms “everyone” and “community” used in the Declaration of Human Rights are unlikely to be realized with this approach. The authors of this declaration didn´t need to add the word ‘community’ but gladly they did so anyways. Cultural participation is not achieved in isolation, but as part of the community.

Particularly ingenious is the ‘artistic separation’ as another defence strategy, using the argument that a safe space should be created for newcomers – which is essentially creating mono-national or mono-cultural spaces. If these spaces are created by newcomers, you can imagine that most likely these are based on the desire for the familiar. However, the cultural associations founded in this context usually last for only two generations and generally lack of any financial support. But what do the well-established organisations or private individuals of the arrival state actually want to achieve by creating for example a diaspora ensemble? Simplified processes, less translation costs, the protection from the majority? Or is it due to the fact that a certain mainstream is able to use their local language for profit? Then we would rather speak of a cultural ‘get out of the way’ than of cultural participation, as this wouldn´t happen in a true community. The scarce commodity of attention is seldom distributed to minorities and certainly not in an artistic context. In other words, very interesting formats might disappear into a cloud of meaninglessness and disregard.

I´m closing this article with the all-around hit of ‘cultural exclusion’ by educated elites’.
This is about the most insidious approach in the canon of defence mechanisms. The statement ‘we are the elite’, used for both — an active and passive — cultural defence system, has been working very efficiently for a long time. Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) uses the term ‘elite’ in connection with class and cultural struggle in which cultural participation should be embedded. This struggle can only be seen in this context and if you truly try to eliminate it you need to start with education.

Let’s assume: the elite has a high interest in remaining the elite. If they would enable a more sustainable way of participation their status would be at risk. As elites are most and foremost exclusive. Nevertheless, the elite knows how to cover themselves in a politically correct and discrimination-sensitive terminology. Only on the very surface, of course. The elite is effectively differentiating itself through the use language which doesn´t stop there, they exclude people as well through fashion and trends. But above all, this exclusion reveals itself through a preferred financial support system that only awards grants to a selected group of individuals who understand the game and know how to play it. And the number one rule of this game is to never threaten the king with a check, which could quickly end in a financial dismissal.

It would be naive to believe that education enables the elite to reflect on their actions or that it gives them the understanding that the creation of effective and sustainable forms of cultural participation would be beneficial. No, on the contrary, education must be understood as an instrument of power and an instrument for the elite to differentiate themselves. One little sniff and then please leave the group of intellectuals again, back to where you came from. Perhaps the children of newcomers are allowed to play along, but only if they have attained the right level of education, after whichthey then can be honoured as an exception that confirms the rule,someone who gets declared a genius and managed to escape the working class. But be careful, this weapon of education is only distributed in small amounts and the old rule remains, either you belong or you don’t. Because education is, so to speak, a missile defence system of the elites and as long as it is used on a daily basis for its defence, real cultural participation is an illusion.

Therefore, Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights needs more attention. It needs a higher engagement of the civil society to fill it with life. If we want to create a better solidary, social and just system on this planet, we have to seriously encourage cultural participation and make space.

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Wirtschaft oder Kultur ?

Sind das zwei Themengebiete die unvereinbar sind? Oder sind sie unverzichtbar füreinander? Ich denke, um das vorwegzunehmen: Es sind wichtige, sich beeinflussende und gegenseitige ergänzende Disziplinen.

In knapp 20 Jahren Berufserfahrung, sowie 10 Jahren Engagement in humanitären Projekten – ging es bei mir immer wieder um die Frage: Wie erreicht man es, dass so viele Menschen wie möglich, das eigene Schicksal selbst in die Hände nehmen können.

Hat man die umfassende Entscheidungskompetenz für das eigene Leben?

Als Frau mit kulturhybridem Migrationshintergrund, längeren Aufenthalten im Sudan, Haiti, und vielen arabischen Ländern, durch meine Nähe zum Nahen und Mittleren Osten, dem Aufbau eines Sozialunternehmens sowie eines interkulturellen Künstlernetzwerkes, sammelte ich viele Erfahrungen. Diese machten mir immer deutlicher, wie unerreichbar das Ziel der Entscheidungskompetenz für das eigene Leben, für große Teile der Menschheit ist. (more…)

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GYALPA JPG Logo_preview

Gyalpashop UG und Studio Store für Craft and Design aus dem Nahen Osten 

Produzent*innen einen fairen Zugang zu internationalen Märkten bieten: Sozialer Handel

Gegründet 2015, bietet das soziale Handelsunternehmen Gyalpa über eine Online Plattform und einen Studio Store (2018) in Berlin handgefertigte Produkte an. Es handelt sich um faire, nachhaltige und kreative Mode sowie Life Style und Beauty Produkte. Gyalpa UG importiert aus 6 arabischen Ländern (Marokko, Syrien, Jordanien, Palästina, Ägypten, Libanon) und der Türkei.


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Worum geht es bei FLAX?

Wir sind ein Kollektiv, das sich für kulturelle Teilhabe in Deutschland, Großbritannien und Frankreich einsetzt. Kulturelle Teilhabe ist ein universelles Menschrecht und befindet sich in Artikel 27 der Allgemeinen Erklärung der Menschenrechte. Wir Informieren und vernetzen, die Menschen, die schon da sind, über und mit den Menschen, die gerade angekommen sind und mit allen anderen denen kulturelle Neugier inne wohnt. Denn um teilhaben zu können, muss man wissen, wo die geeigneten Räume dafür sind. Solche mit niedrigen Schwellen und vielen Sprachen. Durch unsere Publikationen wollen wir den Zugang zu kultureller Teilhabe besonders in drei Communities: Berlin, London und Paris erleichtern. Dabei haben wir immer ein Auge auf den Nahen- und Mittleren Osten, den das Redaktionsteam ist hier besonders eng verbunden.

What is FLAX about?

We are a collective that engages in cultural participation in Germany and the UK. Cultural Participation is a universal and basic human right and is expressed in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We inform and connect people who reside in the above countries, no matter for how long they have live there. We work with people, not about people. All of us is inherent to act in a cultural curious way. But to able to participate, you need where when and how. Which is the right space for me? Spaces with the right language and low boundaries? With our publication we are addressing mainly the 3 big cities: Berlin, London and Paris. A small focus we also have on the Middle East as the three cultural hubs are residence for many cultural workers from the middle east?

What is FLAX about? (Tanja´s Correction)

We are a collective that advocates for a greater cultural participation in the general public and who shifts its attention to three major countries within Europe and it´s new neighbor; Germany, France and the UK. Cultural participation is a universal human right, included in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We aim to inform and connect those who are already engaged in the arts and culture sector well as newbies and newcomers and anyone else with a cultural curiosity. We recognise that in order to participate, one has to know where to go, what to read or even how and where to search for it. To reduce barriers and to provide content in an accessible language, FLAXzine is the place to get informed, researched each month by a shifting Editorial Team. With FLAXzine, we want to provide access to culture, especially in Berlin, London and Paris, with an eye on communities and artists from the? near and middle east, as our editorial team is particularly closely connected to this area.

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Gyalpa e.V. fördert von Frauen und Jugendlichen aus und im Nahen und Mittleren Osten sowie in Deutschland

Gyalpa e.V. hat eine Vielzahl von Projekten zur Verbesserung der Gleichstellung der Frauen im Nahen und Mittleren Osten sowie in Deutschland durchgeführt. Hierbei geht es um die beiden Säulen Wirtschaft und Kultur.
Ziel ist es Frauen Zugang zum kulturellen Sektor zu ermöglichen u.a. durch Projekte im Bereich Kunstgewerbe, Film, Angewandten Kunst, Theater, Bildende Kunst, Literatur und Journalismus.
Darüber hinaus gibt es Projekte im Bereich der humanitären Hilfe, der Bekämpfung von Ursachen von Flucht und erzwungener Migration. Ein weiterer Schwerpunkt sind Projekte im Bildungsbereich.

Gyalpa e.V.


2014 Town and Country Integrationspreis

2016 Menschenrechtspreis der Ingrid zu Solms Stiftung

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Blog posts 


Feminismus Backstage #005: Sexualisierte Gewalt – Auch Macht und Geld schützen nicht: Feminismus-backstage

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Hertie School: Hertie School – Lanna Idriss

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vom 24. November 2017


vom 8. NOVEMBER 2019 @ 18:00 – 23:00

thueringen24:  DNT-Leiter-Weber-Die-Gesellschaft-laesst-viel-zu-wenig-Extremitaet-zu

von Jan-Henrik Wiebe
03.09.2017 – 18:06