The Role of Ethnic and Religious Associations in Promoting and Supporting Muslim/Non-Muslim Dialogue. The Case of Milano, Italy.

Cristina Giuliani, Stefania Giada Meda

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroContributo a convegno

Abstract

Milano, is a large multiethnic and multicultural city in northern Italy, but is it also a mixed, hybrid place, where to see the result of combining the qualities of people of different ethnic, cultural and religious background? Our contribution falls under the conceptual framework of hybridization (mixité in French, meticciato in Italian. Cf. Gomarasca 2009; 2013; Meda 2016). This is a concept derived from biology and of strong metaphorical impact, applied controversially to the understanding of the exchanges between people and community belonging to different cultures and religions. The concept of hydridization (meticciato/mixité) refers to a transformative process, the birth of a new identity, which exceeds the original characteristics of the individual subjects (Kapchan, Turner Strong, 1999). The concept of hydridization (meticciato/mixité) is investigated with respect to the no-profit associations operating in Milano for the intercultural and interreligious dialogue, especially between Muslims and non-Muslims, a topical issue in the contemporary scenario of European cities (Giuliani, Meda 2016; Meda 2016). We decided to focus on associations composed of migrants because of the importance that they have for their members and for the society that promotes and hosts them (Marini 2013). Three aspects distinguishing Italy from other European countries in which the issue of the intercultural and interreligious dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims was investigated. First, the specific and weak nature of Italian secularism in comparison with others European countries like France or the Netherlands (Diotallevi 1999; Kosmin & Keysar 2009; Roy 2007): in Italy Catholic Church, activism of ecclesiastical organizations in many sectors (school, sport, social assistance, education, health...), and religious values remain strong and exert influence on public and political spheres. Religiosity and role of religion on social and political domains could be perceived as an element of proximity between Muslims and Catholics. Second, the Muslim migration history is more recent in Italy than in other European countries, and their density is lower. Third, Italy has been less directly affected by terroristic threat, at least until now, keeping antagonism between autochthone and Muslim community lower than in other part of Europe. The idea that we explore is that, vis-à-vis the Otherness brought by Islam, the associations of migrants can play an important function of encounter and mediation, generating potential well-being for individuals, communities and society as a whole, and paving the way for forms still in progress of hybridization (meticciato/mixité). Methodologically, we have identified and analyzed from the ISMU/Orim database of ethnic associations, those operating in Milano for interfaith dialogue and integration, and whose members come mostly from the Muslim world. In addition, we conducted individual and group in-depth interviews with representatives of nine Muslim, four Catholic and one secular associations of immigrants. We found that Milan is “plural” and characterized by quite a number of migrant ethnic associations, whose members and promoters include women and young people, attentive to the needs of their affiliates in what concerns the facilitation of the immigrants’ integration, and the research and progressive establishment of a common ground for peaceful coexistence with other members of society. The associations that we studied do not allow us to talk yet about hybridization outcomes in Milano. The research results, on the contrary, question the desirability of hybridization as outcome of the combination of people with different cultural and religious background. The analysis of the interviews rather suggests a more nuanced way of blending cultures and religions for a peaceful co-existence on the public sphere: a sort of “generative” encounter with divers
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteThe Migration Conference 2017 - Programme and Abstracts Book
Pagine85-86
Numero di pagine2
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017
EventoThe Migration Conference - Athens, Greece
Durata: 23 ago 201726 ago 2017

Convegno

ConvegnoThe Migration Conference
CittàAthens, Greece
Periodo23/8/1726/8/17

Keywords

  • Muslim, dialogue, ethnicity, religiosity, association

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