Identity by Massimo Raveri

An interesting article by Professor Massimo Raveri, Cà Foscari University of Venice, about identity:

Every culture forms a complex, always dynamic, system, which lives on a deep tension between phases of opening and closure to other cultures.

On the one hand, there are phases of coherence, where symbolic and regulatory structures tend to agree with foundational choices and traditional values. On the other hand, there are phases of transformation and divergence from the views of the past.

On the one side, this is due to those endogenous factors – such as the generational turnover, the economic dynamics of redistribution of wealth, the mobility of the social power –  which generate new ideas and different values.

On the other side, there are exogenous factors – such as immigration, or colonial rule – that create a double social perception of both euphoria and confusion.

The latent danger is that hybridization mechanisms may be too risky, and innovative processes too fast, overcoming as a consequence the control strategies and the social conformism, and that the inconsistency of the cultural system masy go too far and collapse.

This is exactly what happened in traditional African societies when they fell under the colonial rule.

In this process, the need for an ideal of an “identity” that might reinstate the coherence of the cultural system becomes a fundamental need.

The identitary discourse is a symbolic, abstract and fictitious construction: it is a myth.

Nevertheless, it is thanks to this “illusion” that many fast-developing societies were able to “see” and find themselves, making sense of the events which disrupted the usual cultural landscape.

The past is re-read by way of  manipulating the memory and the oblivion.

Ideas and concepts, which are useful to the present we live in, are extrapolated and deprived of their historical dimension in order to reassemple them in a very semplified vision, coherent and atemporal (fictitious, but credible), as if this vision has always been the foundation of that culture, despite the vicissitudes and the changes in history.

Furthermore, the identitary discourse is very often based on a religious vision in order to exacerbate the power and the immutability of the identity, as if the identity of a people or of a nation were the product of a divine action and the heart of a strategy of the Absolute in the world.

And at the end of this process of symbolic elaboration, it is said that this is the only and true nature of “our” people.

That is not true: a society has multiple “identities” that are intertwined and that change over time.

But in a period of change, it is useful to believe in a mithological vision of one’s own country, a clear and unchangeable vision to hold on to – not with the aim to understand the past, but to make sense out of one’s own future.

The topic of the uniqueness is fundamental.

It creates a reassuring perception of strenght, of comprehensibility and coherence.

But the distinct, strong identity is a symptom of weakness and deep-rooted fear.

This dream of a “uniqueness”  is the price to pay, not a prize.

Asserting the uniqueness of one’s own “identity” generates big self-representation and estrangement problems. That is because the identity is based on process which distinguish, divide “us” from “them”, by way of collocating “us” on the pedestal of an absolute, eccentric and one reality.

That is a wrong self-perception, without that balance which comes from the generalisation and comparison processes with regard to values of “normalcy” which link all the men, beyond differences.

The construction of a perfect model of “who we really are” it is not the product of a memory of reconciliation. It is legitimized by a catharsis: the invention of an otherness that threatens because is “spurious”, “mixed”, “crossbred”. They are different from us, they are those people who are rejected, marginalized and then treated as outsiders and enemies.

Webinar: Who is watching us? Considerations for a networked world

Doğa Schools, as part of the WYRED project, organize on 7th February from 12:10 to 12:50 CET a webinar on the topic of “Who is watching us? Considerations for a networked world”.

The webinar is free of charge. You can join the webinar by clicking on the following link: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/265921077 with Access Code: 265-921-077.

The webinar aims to highlight privacy and security aspects connected to the internet and to social media, and to generate a conversation among participants on how to stay safe online whilst enjoying the benefits of a connected world. It is envisaged that the conversation will continue on the WYRED Platform on the community Our digital footprints – protecting ourselves, inside the forum Who is watching us and how are we watching.

If you are between 14 and 30 years old, and you want to join the conversation on the WYRED Platform, complete the form available on https://wyredproject.eu/international-conversations/privacy-paradox/.

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Interview by Felix Petzold about prejudices and stereotypes in religion

Here we have an interview by Felix Petzold, Chair of Didactics of History at University of Augsburg, about prejudices and stereotypes in religion:

Mr. Petzold, are religion-related stereotypes a contemporary problem?

No, religion-related stereotyping is far from a sole contemporary phenomenon. Stereotypes, as they appear today, have mostly grown historically. Humanity uses stereotyping throughout its existence in order to ‘navigate’ in a confusing and complex world. This process is thus a simplyfing strategy. But that’s not all. By stabilizing the results outwards and inwards on both an individual and collective level, stereotypes accomplish the formation and stabilization of identity through the construction of alterity. This describes one of their essential functions then and now.
They are (hi)story educators.

How do you approach stereotypes from your perspective as a specialis, including those related to religion for educational purposes and what may be gained?

Students should have a reflective and self-reflexive usage of stereotypes from a historical and didactic point of view. It also seems essential to understand them in their evolution. In this way of assimilation they become acquainted with the enduring functions and mechanisms of their use and effects. Especially the historical view, which essentially means to historicize them, to make their genesis clear, and to contextualize them, i.e. to analyze them in their becoming effective within historical events, gives learners deeper insights. They recognize that stereotypes are not ahistorical monoliths, but have grown historically, unfolding different efficiencies at different times. Sometimes they flatten to clichés, sometimes they solidify into detailed images. Becoming familiar with the central mechanisms of their use and effect, learners also gain awarness of the problems related with stereotypes; namely, how they became subject of instrumentalization and of abuse over time and space.

This substantial historical-didactical view was also shared in the results of our project: in the linking of religion-related stereotypes and prejudices (such as anti-Jewish stereotypes) or explained as an approach to teaching in one of the so-called units of online training series (Unit 8).

A new partner is on board

A very good news from MOVES…

We are happy to announce that the The Center for Inclusive Schools joins WYRED as a new partner. This Center  is one of the few locations in Vienna that offers a multitude of  special and supportive educational settings such as family classes, classes for children with special needs and elementary school integration, as well as multi-level integration classes on secondary 2 level. School life in the Center is characterized by a maximum individualisation and differentiation.

Our 18 new participants are already experienced in political participation as they took part in a co-creation process in the student parliament of their district for newly designing the location around their school.

Though it is not easy at all for them to concentrate for a longer period of time, within two social dialogue-sessions the children already successfully defined the topics and developed the research questions they are interested in.

So what are the ambitious projects they intend to work on in the next weeks? Some will explore the internet to find out how female and male influencers present themselves on YouTube. Some will write a Rap Text about their identities in social media. Others will research the question, how fake-news can be identified in the internet and one further group will define dos and don’ts to be safe when using it. We are very proud to have these young people in the project showing us how inclusion in practice works.

Soon results will be available in their community on the platform – we will go on informig you!

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New version of the WYRED Manifesto

A new version of the WYRED Manifesto is available.

The WYRED Manifesto has been created based on consultations with young people in different face to face meetings and events, Delphi2 research and the WYRED
platform.

At least 300 young people from all over Europe, between 15-30 years of
age, took part in its creation and formulation. The manifesto will continue to be a
consultative document throughout WYRED project. This document is a collection
of young people’s thoughts.

Get the WYRED Manifesto:

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Renewable energies

The new story from our partner MOVES comes from Hertha-Firnberg-Schools in Vienna and Lehrlingsstiftung Eggenburg, and it is a message on renewable energies…

Lack and waste of resources is limiting the society in order to evolve and expand the knowledge and use of renewable energy. Rare earth metals are a fundamental part of advancing in terms of science and technology. Resources like petroleum, coal or copper, which are fundamental for the continuity of a functioning infrastructure and therefore crucial for the survival of human kind, are extinguishing. Consequently, there is the need of funding and further developing environmentally sustainable ways of energy generation. When taking a look at the Fukushima incident in 2011 or the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in 2010 it is further easy to recognize, that the wrong treatment of these resources is one of the causes. Most of these catastrophes are directly linked to natural disasters caused by global warming – another energy related cataclysm made by the ignorant use of energy of humanity.

Not only is the introduction of renewable energy stopping energy related disasters from happening, it has also many other positive aspects, which are worth mentioning. Firstly, and probably the most important issue that occurs when generating energy out of fossil fuels is global warming. Since it is a problem that is current and becoming more and more dangerous for Planet Earth, it is the duty of nowadays generations to build the foundation for fighting global warming in the future. Therefore, instead of using coal, which produces 0.6 to 1.6 kilograms of CO2 per kilo Watt-hour, or natural gas, which amounts from 0.3 up to 0.9 kilograms CO2 per kilo Watt-hour, as energy sources, they should be replaced by wind, solar or hydroelectric power. They emission roughly 0.01 kilogram of Carbon Dioxide per generated kilo Watt-hour.

Therefore: We urgently need to continue with the processes of the introduction of renewable energy!

“Jesseal” produces a collage showing the dangers of nuclear power plants, being a steady real danger in the northern border region of Austria – the region where his school is located nearby.

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The Pilot Implementation of E-EVALINTO in Poland

The piloting phase of the E-EVALINTO project was held in Poland from February to September 2018. Two teachers from the Academic High School of the University of Social Sciences took part in the pilot. The Academic High School exists for four years, it is small school, it has about 80 students. The population of pupils with a migrant background is no more than 10%. The school is very popular among students from Ukraine, and every year more students joins to school.

For more information you can download the Press Release for the pilot implementation for the case of Poland.

 

Digital society, young people and decision makers: Wyred consultations

One of the partners of WYRED consortium, Youth for Exchange and Understanding, is consulting 180 young people taking part in University on Youth and Development on issues related to digital society.

What are their biggest concerns? What values should we have online? Do they feel that their voices are heard by decision makers and what are they demanding as young people from stakeholders for a better digital society?

Consultations are part of the revision process of WYRED Manifesto.

 

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E-EVALINTO was included in the MOOCs4Inclusion online catalogue

The E-EVALINTO project was included in the MOOCs4Inclusion catalogue in the framework of the “Study on MOOCs and free digital learning for inclusion of migrants and refugees” from the Directorate General Joint Research Centre (DG JRC) of the European Commission. The study is coordinated by CARDET and addresses issues related to the provision of free digital learning opportunities for the inclusion of migrants and refugees.

For more information you can visit the following website: http://moocs4inclusion.org/

 

Young womens’ scientific text and reflections on impacts of new technologies

Bianca Neumann, Lisa Birett and Alina Bindu from Hertha Firnberg-Schools in Vienna tell us how New Technologies can impact our lives.

Our world is currently filled with modern technology due to the noteworthy progress scientists have made in recent years. Artificial intelligence and robotics have become significantly advanced and are commonly found in the modern working fields. The adoption of service automation is able to facilitate production, transportation, medicine, education, tourism, and many other areas. The question is whether or not the world of employment will benefit from this embrace of machinery and what challenges human employees might face if robots were to actively participate in various business departments.

This also accounts for  Virtual Reality which is one of the modern technologies that are nowadays used to alter our perception of the world that is surrounding us. Wikipedia defines VR as “a computer-generated scenario that stimulates a realistic experience”.

But what exactly does this mean? Headsets are usually used to either create a completely new environment or just change the outlay of the real world. Even props or physical environments can be used to generate realistic images and sounds that will completely pull the user into an alternative universe. To make the experience as authentic as possible the user is able to look and move around and even interact with virtual features or items.

Virtual reality can come in handy in many different fields and is believed to facilitate many tasks we have to face. In social sciences for example, VR is being used to study and replicate interactions of human beings in a controlled environment. Also, surgery training can nowadays be done through VR technologies. The benefits of an altered or artificial environment can be taken advantage of for educational or training purposes where individuals can develop skills without the pressure of failure and the fear of consequences which are constantly present in the real world.

But virtual reality is also used for entertainment purposes, in public or privately. This includes gaming, 3D cinema or roller coasters that are offering an extraordinary experience by using modern technologies.

Even though VR has many advantages there are various concerns especially regarding the health and safety of the users as well as the protection of their privacy. Some side effects of VR have already been noticed but most long-term effects on vision and neurological development are still unknown.

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