Joy Moncrieffe referred to ethnic diversity and the response from state institutions in the Caribbean. Belonging to an ethnic group implies a common social identity that is hidden behind a story and similar practices. According to Joy Moncrieffe, “Ethnicity is a part of human beings” because it implies to feel as an integral part of a group."
In the Caribbean there is a high degree of ethnic diversity. In colonial times ethnic groups were arranged according to a hierarchy based on the color of the skin. However, in post-colonial times, in the process of forming a nation, there was a will to suppress diversity in order to establish a single identity that would unify all the ethnic groups that were part of the country. Beyond any structural reforms, the promotion of diversity has an impact on power relations. According to Moncrieffe there is an entrenched spirit of cooperation in the Caribbean; she inquired about possible ways to evolve from structural reform to a change in power relations.
Luis Enrique Vega, from Bolivia believes that the Human Development Report 2004 “is the document that presents the largest number of dilemmas and open ended questions.”
Vega, stated optimistically, “Globalization can aid cultural diversity instead of spoiling it.” However, the reality is that people’s imaginaries exclude some parts of the world (like Africa) from the globalization process. Similarly, this process also takes place within some countries, as is the case of Bolivia, where globalization has contributed to internationalize the indigenous elites while leaving out the majority who remain forgotten.
Hence, globalization creates, on the one hand, a group of privileged people that may feel as part of the world while, on the other hand, there is a vast majority of poor people that remain completely excluded.
Finally, with regard to multiculturalism and social ethics, the speaker stated that spaces for freedom are needed in the form of public spaces where people can gather to share their insights and thoughts. Agusti Colomines does not believe that in future there will be a clash of civilizations. However he admits that a conflict of values can take place since, “Nation-states are an obstacle for cultural diversity.” In fact, according to Colomines, “Nation-states are a parody of diversity,” since none of them reflect the plurality of nations within the state.
Many countries experience a paradox of having states that call for multiculturalism and welcome immigrants while they do not apply the same criteria with the native minorities of the country.
The fundamental problem is, according to Colomines, “how can the State guarantee the rights of individuals to be whatever they really want to be?” Following this, Spain should become a multinational country in order to guarantee the rights of national minorities but it should also be multi ethnic in order to guarantee the rights of ethnic minorities. All nations and ethnic groups should be recognized because individuals feel the need –and have the right – to maintain their own distinguishing features.
Alioune Sall, from Africa, explained that most African countries experience violent conflicts. The main reasons that have been argued for this endemic violence are mainly related to the economy and the existing social inequalities. Nonetheless, economic policies only explain this in part, since some conflicts are not only due to the social disparities.
This is why the current trend is to find an explanation for violence in cultural differences, although this reasoning is highly misleading since, in fact, it is a political problem based on power relations. According to Alioune Sall, the problem of violence is not cultural but rather political.
Africa is a continent of great diversity and thus recognition of its multiple identities is needed. Certainly, identities and communities can be specifically and differently defined but without forgetting the aim of building a common future that leaves the past behind. There is a need to emphasize and prioritize the fact that everyone is a common citizen, which in turn will help “reconcile cultural identity and common identity.”
Azza Karam spoke about religion, the Arab world, gender and globalization. In many cultures religious discourse is utilized by political movements to justify violent action. These religious and political movements obviously have an impact on the secular world (Bush, for instance). With regard to Islam and its identity, Karam highlighted that there is not a single identity for Islam; it is rather diverse and multiple. In fact, "Islamic identity is multicultural.”
Many Arab countries tend to resist the dominant patterns of Western culture and for this reason there is a pressing need to create a form of government in accordance with Islam. In this field there are two trends: Moderates who claim that time and money are needed to achieve this, since the formation of a government is a long process that must be done under democratic principles; and radicals who believe that the ends justify the means and therefore legitimize the use of physical and symbolic violence.
Obviously, between these two postures there are also a great number of movements. According to Karam, “Political and religious movements feed into one another” and, therefore, the moderates welcome women’s participation in public life whereas in the radicals this possibility does not exist.
With regard to women’s issues Karam stated that it is difficult to talk about feminist movements in these countries because there is a separation between secular women and Islamic women. However, they should try to work together for a common future in benefit of all; they should all share common goals.
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr believes that “culture follows power” and therefore, those in power tend to impose their culture to the rest. At present economic globalization has exported the music, literature and, above all, the cinema of hegemonic cultures.
Participants agreed on formulating the question: how can globalization be promoted without imposition from hegemonic cultures? What is to be done in the face of this situation? According to Fukuda-Parr, it does not make sense to close the borders for imports, since barriers to cultural flows can be very dangerous. A possible solution would be “for countries to find formulas that nurture their own cultural industries.”
With regard to indigenous populations, asymmetric globalization is a phenomenon whereby the investment of companies and industries affects areas claimed by natives. As a result, there is an increased atmosphere of confrontation between businesses and indigenous people. In the face of this situation it is not possible to stop investment that would go against people’s material welfare. Rather, it is necessary to negotiate and distribute profits.
Finally Fukuda-Parr referred briefly to immigration, which, in her view, is necessary for Europe from a demographic and economic standpoint. However, with the arrival of immigrants, many countries fear to lose cultural identity. Immigration nowadays, in fact, questions the model of assimilation because people continue to be in frequent contact with their countries of origin. In the face of this situation, new models or integration are needed.