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School of Intercultural Education, Human Rights and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts

The third lecture within the project realized with the assistance of OSCE and
in cooperation with the Faculty of Philosophy, Novi Sad University

October 8, 2011

"The Notion of Other and Hate Speech; Tolerance, Solidarity and Assimilation" (Lecturer: Prof. Dragan Prole)

To start with, Professor Prole commended the fact that a seminar as this one was organized at the faculty he himself taught at and as such was well aware of what the student population needed to know.

The biggest problem of conflict-solution is that usually consequences are coped with rather than origins of a conflict. In the great majority of cases, conflicts derive from attitudes towards "the enemy," that is, towards a construct of the enemy. Attitudes towards strangers and attitudes towards such an enemy are different categories. The latter is someone from our own community but the one whose views differ from ours. A stranger is someone who is alien, who is outside our value system and is always elusive.

The attempts at preventing such "elusiveness" are manifested in assimilation. If assimilation fails, those strangers are rejected - or, brutally removed. These two models are paradoxical since all cultures resemble one another very much. Only 20 percent of one culture is autochthonous, while the rest is a product of a cultural mix. In spite of all nations engage in conflict against each other as in the case of the wars in the territory of ex-Yugoslavia. A community that defines "its own" through its attitude towards other communities will always originate conflicts.


Some questions and comments made by students:

1. We adopt laws and change ourselves only because the West wants us to.

2. Is it true that Serbia is the West's colony?

3. Serbia's anthem refers only to Serbs and Serb lands? What about other peoples living in Serbia?

4. Serbs are incapable of accepting anyone different from them. When abroad we are prone to be bigger Serbs than at home.

5. A student speaks about a teacher from abroad who was immediately engaged by a school in Zrenjanin. No one bothered to check his diploma or his CV, he was engaged on full-time basis just because he spoke fluent English. "We, Serbs, would accept everything that comes to us without posing any questions."

6. Traveling abroad is the first step towards knowing others. But the luxury of a travel abroad is restricted to those who can afford it. Not long ago our higher schools were closed to any cooperation with their counterparts abroad. This problem is not created by people but by authorities.


"Multiculturalism/Interculturalism in Practice; the Case of Vojvodina" (Lecturer: Prof. Tamas Korhec)

As a social phenomenon a culture is a product of human creativity. That means that a culture necessitates a human community. Such a community is mostly monoethnic - one nation or one tribe. A mother tongue of the people in a community makes foundations for their culture, i.e. it preconditions their consumption of culture. Unlike ethnic communities, cultured communities are more open, they do not acknowledge borders and they accept the influence of different cultures. Interculturalism implies intercultural influence, including cultures that are similar. Multiculturalism implies several different cultures, relatively distanced one from another, but existing within a same society or a state. A state cannot establish multiculturalism because borders between cultures do not correspond to those of the state. A modern state's attitude towards culture is proactive, it channels and finances culture... In this area a state's attitude can be

1. Negative - when a state supports the culture of one ethnic community only (like in Greece, Albania, Bulgaria or France);

2. Partially tolerant - a nation-state recognizing the right to cultural diversity and partially supportive of not only the predominant culture (like Serbia and most countries);

3. Multicultural state - the one that affirms multiculturalism and is supportive of many cultures (like Switzerland, Canada or ex-Yugoslavia);

In the past ten years Vojvodina has made a visible progress in the domain of multiculturalism. The province has established a theater in minority languages, opened new high and elementary schools, and set up new media outlets. However, a considerable part of the population in Vojvodina strongly opposes multiculturalism. Regular curricula and textbooks still do not acknowledge the values of multiculturalism. The curriculum in Serbian taught to Hungarian classes is still inadequate. At central level, the political class is still not ready to affirm the policy of multiculturalism in Serbia.


Some questions and comments made by students:

1. The media were running just one side of the story about the incident in Temerin? What actually happened? We are not ready yet for accepting multiculturalism.

2. Two ethnic communities can live in harmony. For instance, Rumanians in Sutjeska learn Serbian.

3. A girl from Backa Topola says she couldn't speak Hungarian as a child and, therefore, couldn't play with Hungarian kids. No member of her family or their friends would help her and teach her Hungarian.

4. Serbs are reserved about minorities, but minorities are also reserved about Serbs.

5. The wars in the territory of ex-Yugoslavia and refugees caused problems in Vojvodina: for, refugees cannot understand Vojvodina' past.



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