Call 4: Intangible heritage and community building: identity, assimilation, integration

Traditions, rituals, processions and many other expressions of intangible heritage are believed to be important elements of community building and community identity. However, due to global mobility, immigration and social change, different communities now happen to share the same space. Locations are no longer identified by single communities, but by a multitude of groups living together. This is especially the case in cities that attract people from many different countries and continents. Social divisions are no longer the only lines of separation between groups. Religious and cultural diversity have become a daily reality in most of the cities in Western Europe and elsewhere.

Each of these religions and groups bring their own customs and traditions and diversify the city landscape. What is the impact of these demographic and cultural changes on the local community and its traditions? How can local traditions be open to newcomers? How do they assimilate individuals and groups of people that have no roots in the local community?

In Europe especially, many traditions have a – sometimes forgotten – religious background. This is certainly the case with historic processions and yearly feasts such as fairs. How do these traditions adapt to the growing secularisation of society which is a common thread all over Europe? How do these traditions survive? Is a growing secularisation a chance for inclusions of other non-religious and other religious groups? How can traditions which characterise a local identity help to include people whose religious convictions are different? How do immigrants respond to the local traditions that they find in their new homeland? How and in what sense do they participate, be it directly or indirectly? Or do these traditions invoke exclusion? What can it tell us about the nature of traditions in terms of community building?