The Historian, Josep Fontana, analyzed the construction of national identity. "History is related with the construction of the identities of nations," asserted Fontana, and that is why powers focus on history and the way it is taught at schools is highly polemical. Every moment has created this history, with a clear political function. History is the genealogy of a specific social project. "Nationalism is a phenomenon of a collective conscience of cultural essence," added Fontana.
The foundation and legitimation of the State depends on the social contract, which is renewed every time elections are held. According to Fontana, "the state framework is not fully assuming its plurinational state." With regard to Europe, he asserted that "a history of Europe is possible, but it has yet to begin," and on nationalism, that "a cultural rather than ethnic nationalism is required, one of inward identity and outward solidarity." And finally, with regard to the historian’s task, he stated that "the historian has the responsibility of eliciting a critical conscience." The following speaker in the morning session was Nezar AlSayyad, Professor of Architecture and Planning, who studies traditional habitats. He discussed identity and cultural domination, and the relationship between domination and identity. According to him, "globalization is an urban phenomenon." In the 21st Century, national societies became increasingly conscious of their roots. Hence, any theory of globalization must take into account the specificities of traditional cultures, colonization, etc., as well as other factors such as the fact that "societies are built in relationship with one another" and that at present, "the cities of the world are becoming more and more homogenous."
AlSayyad described the phases of human settlements:
1- Traditional Communities. Before colonialism, settlements were an immediate reaction to the natural environment. They reflected the identities of those who built and inhabited them. 2- Colonialism. A lord-servant relationship arose. Wherever colonists went, they imposed their settlement model: "everywhere was France." According to AlSayyad, Israel uses the same methods against Palestine. 3- Post-colonialism. Colonizing countries had imposed their method of building, which conflicted with the culture of the native populations. In the early years of independence came an obsession with modernity and large apartment blocks appeared...
In third world countries, many governments believed that "one way of emulating the nation-state was to create subsidized housing." Egypt is good example. A great deal of subsidized housing was built, but people were not accustomed to living in that manner. "To understand the problem of urban planning, we must understand the issues of national identity," stated AlSayyad. Some architects rejected the Western construction model and began designing architecture based on an invented history... in order to create a national culture. Could a cultural identity be designed in countries gaining independence after colonialism? But identity cannot be based on a pre-colonial myth. The past cannot consist of going back to a certain point in time. Instead, identity must also include the colonial period. National identity is a social construction related with events. At one point, countries will have to acknowledge that their colonial period is also part of their history and identity. Many countries want to have everything—they want veils as well as Coca-Cola. National identity is always undergoing processes of change and flux.
AlSayyad also asserted that we are far from being able to speak of a worldwide culture. At present, the diversity of cultures is often the result of globalization, and furthermore, our era obliges us to confront the phenomenon of deterritorialization.
Bruce Lawrence, Professor of Comparative Religion, then spoke on religious identity from a comparative perspective as well as on fundamentalism. First, he defined fundamentalism "as a vision of the world but never as a label or an identity." Identity is demanding to be defined, according to him. It can be local, national, individual, collective, etc.
Lawrence made several significant statements during his presentation. With regard to religious fundamentalism, he stated that "this is a tautology. Fundamentalisms have always been religious and collective. There are no fundamentalists without fundamentalism." With regard to identity, he asserted that it is not only limited to religion, but that "religious identity is a subset of a wider identity.
Manuel Castells averred that all of the most important religions are inherently fundamentalist, because they represent salvation, but Lawrence, referring to the Forum of Religions that was held in Barcelona, doubted that those attending were fundamentalists.
Lawrence referred to an article in the newspaper El País, in which Eduardo Mendoza spoke of "the hazy line separating fundamentalism from banality." Lawrence believed that "all religions have elements that would allow them to become fundamentalist, but they do not necessarily do so." Religion, though it can be part of civil society, can never substitute it, and "not all religious identities are fundamentalist and not all fundamentalisms are religious. Bush and Bin Laden are fundamentalists."
With regard to the Muslim religion, Lawrence asserted that "Islam must find its place in the contemporary world" and that "the concept of tolerance was not formed by religions—it comes from other sources and will only be able to emerge after an epistemological rupture." Lawrence concluded his presentation with the words: "to do away with fundamentalism, more cooperation projects are required." The last speaker was Jon Juaristi, as commentator.
Juaristi asserted that "the national state has its own historical narratives; the nation-state must be a political project of nationalism."
Juaristi asserted that the idea of a plurinational state as opposed to a national state does not seem appropriate to him. He asserted that the important thing was for the state to be democratic and able to meet all state needs, and that the concurrence of different cultures poses a problem that is not being resolved and is expressed through conflict. Juaristi ended with the question: What is the maximum number of different identities that can peacefully coexist within a single political territory?