"Cultural diversity: antidote for globalization? Such is the theme of the educational day organized last June 15 by the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) of Paris in collaboration with la Maison des Cultures du Monde, University of Cambridge, Centre d'études de littérature et de civilisation arabes of the ENS-LSH and Université Paris 13-Paris Nord.
This meeting gathered doctors, researchers and experts who work on the theme of the cultural diversity and its expression in the cultural heritage (material and intangible, movable and immovable). The participants examined the challenges to which cultural diversity is being confronted in different regions of the world, and analyzed the means they have found to promote it. They further proceeded to recapitalize existing commitments at the international scale and laid down a certain number of recommendations to allow a better understanding the cultural diversity at the international, regional and national levels.
The organizers assumed from the start that « Cultures were made for dialogue », which suggests that not only is a culture rich, but that through its diversity it also contributes to dialogue and partaking among different nations. They notably emphasize that the regulations and stakes included into international trade agreements contribute to questioning governmental support in matter of culture, inasmuch as cultural policies and the different support measures to culture such as financial assistance to artists, budgetary quotas towards the creation of new museums and promotion of cultural heritage are being considered as trade barriers. Now, approaches adopted to defend those measures have however shown their limits, since they have consisted in submitting the cultural sector to a treatment of exception and in taking the necessary precautions not to apply a trade agreement that would be harmful to it. On the other hand, the purpose of trade liberalization at WTO and the fact that agreements tend to cover more and more subjects accentuate pressures going against cultural diversity. In this respect, it may be feared that the application of market rules to culture sectors leads to homogenization of culture and to the disappearance of certain cultures to the advantage of more profitable ones. This very crucial context has led Governments to mobilize towards the adoption of the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which will allow them to preserve and support their culture through appropriate culture policies.