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Transcultural Space as a Multicultural Solution

Hausarbeit (Hauptseminar) 2014 12 Seiten

Kulturwissenschaften - Allgemeines und Begriffe



1. Introduction

2. Transcultural Space
2.1. Characteristics, Potential and Possibilities
2.2. Contribution to Place-Making

3. Applicability: Macau as a “real world” example of transcultural space?

4. Conclusion

5. References

1. Introduction

The times when a politician could rely on references to a stable, homogenized notions of his place and hope to reach his citizens have long been over. Nowadays, the idea of a culture or identity of a place as unchanging, homogenous to the inside and clearly delimited to the outside, has not only been overcome, but also considered as invalid for any moment in time.

Undoubtedly, space is “more than a geographical category, it is also a social concept” (Tamcke et al. 2013, 10) and t is now widely recognized that “where events unfold is integral to how they take shape” (Warf and Arias 2009, 10) Multiculturalism, intercultural projects, tolerance and cooperation have since been the aspiration and slogans of many countries and cities. While a world where people constantly migrate from one place to another makes those discourses highly relevant and necessary, the concepts’ limits have also become visible and a need for different approaches becomes evident.

Hence, this paper tries to outline a possible version of transcultural notions of space. The main point is to raise different perspectives and possibly find a solution for conflicts which concepts such as multiculturalism were not able to solve. First, this paper intends to define transcultural space as it might and would be interpreted in this work. This involves the characteristics, the areas where a transcultural perspective could be particularly useful and the attempt at a working definition. The second section copes with transcultural space in itself, the opportunities it offers, where it might contribute to place-making and urban research and also its limits which have to be mentioned. The third section applies transcultural space perceptions to place, namely Macau. A very short case study investigates if, where and in how far a place can be considered transcultural. The conclusion then summarizes and finalizes the paper.

2. Transcultural Space

2.1. Characteristics, Potential and Possibilities

According to Jonathan Raban, a city can be divided into "soft" and "hard" elements. Raban describes the phenomena as follows:

"The city goes soft; it awaits the imprint of an identity. For better or worse, it invites you to remake it, to consolidate it into a shape you can live in. You, too. Decide who you are, and the city will again assume a fixed form around you. Decide what it is, and your own identity will be revealed” (Raban 1974, 11).

Thus, “places are not given, but produced by human activity” (Prazniak et al. 2001, 15) Transcultural space would be an approach to explain soft place characteristics, interested rather in the social action within and produced by a place, the same actions that cause a continual process of change. This same action is performed by the actors, namely the people living in the place, and only they can create transcultural space and make it meaningful. Consequently, the creators of transcultural spaces are the most significant elements for a transcultural space. The specificity of place comes from being “constructed out of a particular constellation of social relations, meeting and weaving together at a particular locus, positively integrating the global and the local” (Wyse et al. 2012, 1021). The actors can vary from artists who become instrumental in disseminating art world concepts from abroad (cp. Park 2014, 224) to travellers or immigrants in new places, who develop new negotiation strategies for their integration into the new place (cp. Gazzola in Roncador and Stevens 2002, 281). Transcultural notions agree with Massey's image of place as an event, a “meeting place” (Massey 1994, 154) or Anderson’s “contact zones” (Anderson, 1991), without reducing space to that mere functions.

The creation of transcultural spaces is episodic. “It is not that an unwanted repetitive pattern is fixed one time and all is well” (Goering 2013, 139). On the contrary, transcultural space is dynamic and stimulated by the activities of others, causing a constant process of change and evolution.

However, it is also perceptual, created by people from their individual experiences and through their interactions (Wyse et al. 2012, 1035) and scarcely feasible by the “hard elements” of a city. This is the reason why a lasting definition is eventually impossible. Transcultural spaces can be interpreted in many different ways from” the simultaneity of movement, crossings and meaning-making” (Wyse et al. 2012, 1022), “a passage through all particularism and interaction toward a common ground or a common aim” (Tamcke 2013, 147) or in such strategies as the presence of multilingual practices, the portrayal of “in-between,” fluid and hybrid characters, and the elaboration of new urban and domestic spaces created through interactions between cultures (Pilar Rodríguez 2013, 177).

Homi Bhabha ‘liminal spaces’ - fluid and often vague realms of conflict, interactions and mutual assimilation between more powerful and less powerful communities (Bhabha 2004) - have partly been used as a base for transcultural notions of space . Liminal spaces are neither here nor there; they are a collection of transitional qualities ‘betwixt and between’ states of culture (Turner 1995). For Bhabha, a liminal spaces is a hybrid ‘third space’ that permits alternative positions to emerge (Bhabha 2004). Perceptions of transcultural spaces remind of this concept although focusing less on assimilation, interaction and seemingly stable power relations. A space can still be transcultural without visible interaction between all the actors and “mutual assimilation” is rather an exception than the rule. Likewise, a transcultural notion of space would attempt to avoid “victimization”, the power relation between different groups is believed to be changing according to the situation and it is recognized that allegedly less powerful groups such as migrants have their own defending mechanisms and demand of rights. According to Ma Mung: “Immigrants are now increasingly demanding multiple belonging, not being either from here or over there, but from here and over there. (Ma Mung in Pilar Rodríguez 2013, 180)



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
820 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg – Philosophische Fakultät
Cultral Studies Transcultural; Urbanism City Multicultural Transculturality Cultural Studies Culture China Macau Theory



Titel: Transcultural Space as a Multicultural Solution