The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes connecting the East and West which for centuries was central to cultural interaction between them. This summer academy uses the Silk Road as a metaphor for transculturality. The terms “multiculturality” and “interculturality” both proceed from a traditional model portraying cultures as self-contained, homogenous entities. Boundaries remain rigid and, while information can be exchanged, no change takes place as a result.
The concept of transculturality on the other hand aims to think of culture as more than a juxtaposition of the familiar and the foreign (1). It sketches a different picture of the relation between cultures. Not one of isolation and of conflict, but one of entanglement, intermixing and commonness. It promotes not separation, but exchange and interaction. The idea of transculturality takes into account the internal complexities and constant variations characteristic of every culture, as well as recognizing the degree to which cultures are becoming inseparably linked with one another. It focuses on the dynamic aspects of constant processes of negotiation, (dif)fusion, appropriation, assimilation and dissolution.
This summer academy is organized like a jam session and uses the Silk Road as a metaphor for travelling concepts (in areas as learning, creativity, ethics, strategy and leadership and in the second week quite literally as a point of reference for intercultural student projects) and follows the idea that it is more fruitful to organize a vis-à-vis between cultures in order to focus on the “in-between” rather than on their “difference”, “identity” or “essence”(2): In this way we might facilitate a common field for reflection, detect our (fluid) cultures’ resources and get the vibes going.
- Welsch, W. (1999): ‚Transculturality – the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today‘, in: Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World, ed. by Mike Featherstone and Scott Lash, London: Sage 1999, 194-213 (196)
- Jullien, F. (2014): On the Universal, the Uniform, the Common and Dialogue between cultures (De l’universel, de l’uniforme, du commun et du dialogue entre les cultures), Polity, Cambridge.