Can Cultural Institutions Help? Thinking Through the Role of Culture in Creating Successful Diverse Societies
Seminar organised by Anna Triandafyllidou with special guest Peggy Levitt.
While migration scholarship has sometimes seemed allergic to culture, migration is an inherently cultural act. For example, culture is transformed as it migrates in ways that can enable further migration. Debates about pluralism and multiculturalism take place against a cultural backdrop and in the context of cultural institutions that can sway the course of the conversation. In this talk, Peggy Levitt looks at two sites of cultural production – museums and global literary and artistic canons (or what artists, writers, or works achieve international recognition) — to explore how they contribute to and thwart greater pluralism and inclusivity. Peggy Levitt argues for the need to look not only at what gets included in the exhibit or the textbook but also at the biases inherent in the organization of the knowledge used to create them. Without asking these prior questions, and decolonizing knowledge, we may be blind to the way that culture (re)produces inequality along with economics and politics.