Diasporic Contact Zones at the BBC World Service
ACTIVE CITIZENS This is a social leadership programme for promoting intercultural dialogue, trust, and community-led social development. It aims to connect people and develop their skills to build fairer and more resilient societies. It follows a core methodology, adaptable to diverse contexts. Since 2009, the programme has trained over 240,000 people in 68 countries. Working in partnership with local organisations, the British Council trains facilitators who go on to cascade their training within their communities, generating ideas for social action. Active Citizens works through a hybrid cascade-network model of cultural relations: individuals can become facilitators themselves, and therefore become brokers between the British Council and local communities, enacting civil society values through local projects. In Ukraine, the programme has focussed on social cohesion as well as youth empowerment; connecting young people with local authorities and helping them secure funding to address issues in their communities. This has included supporting universities displaced by the conflict in Donbas.
LUHANSK’S ARTS & FACTS Luhansk’s ARTS and FACTS is a collaboration between the Goethe-Institut and the Youth Organisation ‘STAN’ with financial support from the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, under the Eastern Partnership initiative, with consultation from the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum in Berlin. The project aims to address the misconception that there is a lack of culture in Eastern Ukraine and particularly Luhansk through a website that serves as an online digital museum, and also collects and curates artefacts representing the cultural life and social activism that took place in the Luhansk province between 2004 and 2013. The project is part of the Goethe-Institut’s efforts to intensify its capacity building programmes for NGOs in Ukraine, particularly supporting civil initiatives at the grass root level, in order to promote decentralization and citizen participation.
AL-AZHAR ENGLISH TRAINING CENTRE This is a joint programme between the British Council and Al-Azhar, one of the oldest universities in the world. It aims to enhance the English language skills of its students to help them engage in dialogue about moderate Islam with the English-speaking world. It also aims to train Egyptian teachers in pedagogical methodologies, mentoring, and management. The programme has been running since 2007 and currently consists of several complementary strands, including Al-Azhar English Teaching Centre (AAETC), which was the focus of this study. The teaching centre provides English classes through a General English Programme and an English for Religious Purposes course (ERP), as well as soft skills to selected students from the Islamic Studies faculties. The Training Centre is an opportunity to better understand the interplay between cultural relations and social change, as well as the boundaries between cultural relations and what can be perceived as soft power.
Two Kulturakademie (cultural academy) programmes were analysed: Kulturakademie NANO (MENA) and Kulturakademie Ägypten (Egypt).
KULTURAKADEMIE NANO Kulturakademie NANO is a regional programme, which offers training in cultural management and cultural policy for those working or aspiring to work in the cultural sector in the entire MENA region. Since 2011, Kulturakademie NANO trains independent, non-state actors from different cultural disciplines. Usually, it is conducted by German trainers (in English). In 2016, it was also conducted by Arab trainers. It moreover comprises a six-week training course in Berlin. Project participants will be supported to pass on their newly acquired skills and knowledge as multipliers within their institutions.
KULTURAKADEMIE ÄGYPTEN is the local/national version of Kulturakademie NANO. Since 2013, it aims to ‘professionalise’ up to 20 staff from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture as well as other state-funded cultural institutions. In addition to participants from Cairo, participants from Alexandria and other provinces also participate. Two-day modules on various topics of cultural management, such as basic project management or marketing for public institutions, are offered by experts from Germany. A Training-of-Trainers (ToT) module then links former participants
in the Kulturakademie Ägypten with the Egyptian alumni of Kulturakademie NANO and trains them as multipliers who then disseminate their skills and knowledge within their institutions.
GOETHE-FILMWOCHE Goethe-Filmwoche is a Goethe-Institut film festival that has taken place annually since 2013, featuring new German and Arabic films and documentaries in various cities in Egypt. Films are shown subtitled in English and/or Arabic and entry is free. Topics of 2017's film week included migration, definition of home, revolutions, wars, family, and women in society. They were discussed by and with filmmakers, experts and the audience during the week. Goethe-Filmwoche thereby provides a relatively ‘safe space’ for public debate about important and relevant social issues through the film screenings. It provides networking opportunities for the Egyptian film scene and foreign filmmakers, and aims to reach larger local populations in big cities and rural areas with more popular independent films.
The data collected for Goethe-Filmwoche was enhanced by questionnaires collected at a similar film screening in Cairo, also organized by the Goethe-Institut: ‘Montags in Missaha’. It regularly screens movies in the premises of the Goethe-Institut in Cairo, amongst others aiming at bringing perspectives from Germany to the cultural scene in Egypt and exchanging those with Egyptian perspectives.