© Università degli Studi di Padova - Credits: HCE Web agency
For a Renewed Euro-Mediterranean Intercultural DialogueBichara Khader
All peoples build up their identity relating to the past and to space. While the function of memory is precisely to re-elaborate the past in order to select events, either glorious or traumatic, that provide material to construct identity, the territory (relationship with space) appears as the founder of modern political order on categories like Nation or Sovereignty. As contemporary scholars of geopolitics emphasise, in the selected memory, often distorted by the power, the territory is the reference point for collective imagination to elaborate an identity representation. As such, identity is a social construction. It sends back to relationship with the past and the territory, but also with alterity. That implies that each identity definition is also a border line (we are we) that unfortunately , when it comes into relationship with other memories, spaces and identities, often tranforms itself into an arrogant feat of superiority. The three monoteisms, born in the Near East, by their monopolisation of truth have largely contributed to excluding the Other, strengthening “homicidal identities” (Amin Maalouf).
Now, in the era of globalisation, the challenge stems from individual and societies which are developing «complex and multiple identities». The idea of «clash of civilisations» or the even more dangerous notion of «good and evil axis» aim to re-create cleavages and protected borders between «we and they». Only a return to a humanistic approach could avoid that present situation get wrost. The North of the Mediterrean is requested to adopt another Alterity approach, while the South of the Mediterranean is requested to have another management of the Past, democratic openings, and a new governance to meet the third millennium challenges. In conclusion, a) there is no development without rooting and no civilisation without opening, b) the Mediterranean is too narrow to separate and too large to confuse, c) quoting Octavio Paz: Each culture borns from mixing, meeting, conflicting. On the contrary, civilisations die because of isolation.