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The Strength of Culture for Development

Why Culture Matters in International Cooperation

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Edited By Pascaline Gaborit

On the global scale, the challenges surrounding development are massive and complex, as inequalities in living conditions between the richest and poorest countries become greater. Development is a global challenge on a par with the financial crisis and environmental concerns. The participation of local communities and towns in development programmes may result from a desire for influence at an international level, rather than the idea that they can bring some measure of stability, like the large NGOs.
In this context, culture remains an omnipresent factor. Indeed, culture takes on a multifaceted front for it is not solely limited to the organisation of cultural activities or the protection of heritage, but also about the values, significance, and everyday actions of human communities. It contributes to the well-being of local populations. Using culture as a transversal tool to solve the development issues means tackling those issues from a different angle: bringing solutions to some multicultural questions that exist in rich countries.
This book brings together a selection of articles by researchers and experts in this area from a wide variety of backgrounds, disciplines and countries.
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Stating the Obvious? The Role of Diaspora and Migrant Organizations in Development

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Stating the Obvious?

The Role of Diaspora and Migrant Organizations in Development

Elise FERON

Senior Lecturer in International Conflict Analysis; University of Kent

In what kind of development projects are migrant/diaspora1 organizations involved? How can the activities, experiences, and expertise of migrant/diaspora communities be used in development policies and cultural initiatives as implemented by local authorities? Data collected from the INFOCON2 and AWARD3 projects point at the existence of an imbalance between community organizations dealing mainly with issues of integration in the cities of settlement, and those preoccupied with maintaining links and involvement with their home countries. Somewhat surprisingly, considering the wealth of academic literature on the topic, these projects found scarce empirical evidence of the latter. On the contrary, migrant/diaspora organizations often target the “here and now” of integration, considering that the maintenance of links with their country of origin is an objective of secondary importance. It is also striking to ← 81 | 82 → see that migrant/diaspora organizations face considerable difficulties and challenges when they wish to get involved in development work, both at home and in their host societies.

Against this backdrop, several national and local authorities in countries of settlement, especially in Western Europe, have launched initiatives during the past few years, whose main aim has been to harness diaspora expertise and good will for implementing development projects in countries of origin. This signalled an important shift in the perception of migrant communities and diasporas,...

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