“The Challenge of the Global Migrant,
Bodies on the Move and Cultural Differences.”

The ISA RC54 “The Body in the Social Sciences”  is organising the international conference “The Challenge of the Global Migrant. Bodies on the Move and Cultural Differences“, to be held on 5-6 December 2016 in Rome at the Refettorio Hall of the Chamber of Deputies, under the esteemed Patronage of the Italian Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The conference intends to propose a debate on cultural differences, as the means for building a new European civic culture, able to transcend the usual stereotypes and the consequent conflicts and hardships and to favour creative interactions, dialogues and exchanges.

Africa’s is at a crossroads, and it is affecting us more than ever before. Without close cooperation with Africa, it will no longer be possible to face terrorism, migration, energy problems, security, illegal trafficking and climate change. Humans have been on the move for almost two million years, but there has never been a demographic tsunami the likes of which we are facing now. The forced migrations that are currently underway are an epochal phenomenon, and cultural diversity is required to implement mutual integration between different worlds.

It is obvious that this scenario also requires adequate rules that take into account more than just economic and financial aspects. We are in a state of dynamism without dynamics, because mobilization does not lead to anything more than the preservation of the status quo. A great cultural battle is needed, and great cultural battles should also embrace an ethical dimension.

In this phase of history, the “global migrant” is the new emerging figure. This “challenge” needs the affirmation of cultural differences, based on the fundamental heritage of human groups, with their identities and memories. At the moment, it is difficult to formulate precise hypotheses, but this historical phase, beyond the risks it entails, is a unique opportunity. Cultures, faced with a scourge of senseless violence, must generate a convergent dialogue with the goal of justice and peace, combining development and environmental sustainability. This is the crux: we must take into account the difficulty of establishing immediate solutions for salvation but we must not resort to putting a stop to the crisis through the distribution of refugees among different locations without first instituting a large-scale long-term plan.

The conference asks for substantial support by all people engaged in politics and culture, to build a new cultural framework, able to face the new global context in an effective way. We hope that Italy can rise up as an example of integration between different cultures: a bridge between Africa and Europe, due to its geographical position, history and culture, and that this model spreads to the other European states, and to all member states of the United Nations.

The conference will have one general session and five thematic panels according to the following items:

  • The Fears of Europe and Migrants’ Suffering: Stereotypes and Prejudices
  • Bodies on the Move: Social-Environmental Sustainability. A New Integrated Approach
  • The Challenges for Common Growth: Solidarity with the Migratory Phenomenon
  • Memories of Origins, Symbols and Rituals: For a New Model of Inter-cultural Dialogue
  • PeaceBuilding and African Ownership 

The conference is the first stage of the international project Embodiment Global Lab, proposed at the XVII World Congress of Sociology (Yokohama, 2014). This project is supported primarily by ISA, a non-governmental organisation associated with UNESCO and accredited with consultative status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council.


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