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Cultural diversity as a necessary vehicle for dialogue

Culture plays a special role, inter alia, in facilitating the understanding of certain social phenomena or in encouraging mutual understanding. It therefore makes it possible to intervene in several fields: language, education, communication, creativity, or the socio-cultural field. It is therefore a guarantee of the existence of freedoms and human rights. It contributes to strengthening social cohesion and democratic governance, which is why Hyestart has made it its main means of intervention. Our participation in the seminar on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in early July in Geneva must be understood from this perspective.

The world is increasingly marked by a strong attachment to national, religious, ethnic, social or cultural identities, with national identity playing a central role in focusing the sense of community, which is reflected in the speeches of the rulers of the area where the activities of Hyestart are focused. The movement of cultural or other identities, the notion of "hybridity", or the aggregation of disparate elements that affect cultural diversification, is at the heart of the association's concerns in order to overcome the opposition between action and institution, between actors and systems, and in order to emerge from closed and univocal models for the analysis of social reality.

To study the social sphere or to try to facilitate its understanding through "cultural objects" is to study the way in which the institutions are generated, reproduced or transformed through all the concrete social practices that they contain and which make them possible. It is also to highlight how the material modes of domination, the normative reactions, the systems of meaning generate certain social activities and individual behaviors.

The best way to avoid or fuel violence and social tensions is to remind ourselves that our identity is as diverse as our belongings or affiliations. The recognition of the plural character of identity is an essential condition for openness to the world.

The illusion of communitarianism, or the "solitarist" illusion described by Amartya Sen, mobilized by political ideologies, minimize the role of reason and choice in the construction of individual and collective identity and weaken social and political reasoning of individuals.

The preservation of cultural diversity, without becoming an absolute, is an essential step in the exercise of freedom. It is legitimate to ask whether, apart from a formal exhortation to dialogue and openness to others, this cultural diversity put into action is not only a series of unheard-of prescriptions. Nevertheless, promoting cultural diversity means promoting "our freedom to maintain or change our priorities".

This is why the two projects led by Hyestart are linked to language, translation and the photographic image.

The aim of these projects is to enable artists to attest, and this power of attestation could be summed up as the "authentication" of the crosschecking of human testimonies. To attest is also to give another face of collective responsibility. It is to position oneself. To attest is also to commemorate for all and for oneself.

It is therefore important to develop actions that enable members of communities and groups of victims of discrimination, violence or stigmatization to participate or organize projects to combat cultural and social stereotypes.

One of the essential vectors of cultural diversity remains the language, its preservation, but also translation, hence the V. Krikorian translation grant project led by Hyestart. Language is a fundamental element of our identity, our conception of the world and therefore translation has an essential role in the promotion of intercultural dialogue and insists on the idea of reciprocity, since through translation one can access other thinking systems and the knowledge associated with them.

Culture as a demand for respect of identities and diversity opens up a new political front and is an opportunity to redefine the stakes of communication, since there are multiple cultural, professional or educational networks that are no longer as easily controllable as before, but are based on significant and multiplying activities.

To preserve one's identity is to recognize that of the other, one can never repeat it enough. Valuing identities is useless if it leads to exacerbated communitarian nationalism.

Allowing regional pluralism and seeing only one entity such as the "South Caucasus", working in particular on linguistic pluralism and translation would promote national cultural productions, which are a factor of identity, but also offer the means to understand the outside. The recognition of differences can encourage the development of human relationships.

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