Point of View from the Hermitage. Too many have
Recently a regular Likhachev Scientific Conference took place in our city. Opportunities of humanitarian science, culture in the sphere of modernization, innovation and many other things were discussed there in various forms. Much was said about current conflicts. One of them is migration.
Europe and Russia with a great relish and concern are discussing the problem of migrants. It is discussed as a disaster attacking the world. Migrants are divided into legal and illegal. This implies desired and undesired ones. Today they are desired visitors, tomorrow - no. It is common for many countries. Example: recently political refugees from the Soviet Union or migrant workers from Turkey rich for relatives were needed, now they are not.
Only the USA, making entry regulations into the country more severe, continues building up its policy and ideology on attraction of the best forces from all over the world. How has America overcome political and international crisis? It has elected brand new President from the second generation of Kenya’s migrants to the USA.
Generally speaking, the right to admit or expel people from their territory seems as something natural and obvious. In fact, it is not. There are no more moral rights in this than in obsolete customs practice when a robber by the right of strength, settles in a right place, collects charges from the passers-by. His direct successors are not only Somalian pirates.
In our epoch the system of national states is being eliminated. As the elimination of internal borders takes place, then gradually the external borders are washed out. People move. It is a part of the world process. Migration has always existed, that was how the human kind spread over the Earth. People migrated from North-Eastern Africa, from where originated. There is nobody who has disproved this theory. Migration does not depend on personal desires of anybody. People will move if they need to.
In the thick of dispute cultural role of migration stands off. It is an important tool of nations’ interactions. Let’s assume that in the USA there is a struggle for the rights of Africans or against these rights, the war against Italian, Columbian and Russian mafias do not cease... But it does not prevent culture of these nations to enter the culture of America. Simultaneously, migrants are a bridge of influence of the USA on other countries.
It is interesting to see how it happens. It is possible if conventionally to distract from the problem of foreign cheap labor and the conflict, arising when newcomers do not want to obey the existing rules or inflict their own.
Let’s remember the most simple: how thanks to migrants the cuisine of European countries and Russia has enriched. Chinese, Korean, Italian, Japanese, Russian restaurants in different countries were established for compatriots. At the moment they define the diversity of food all other the world. Another aspect is impact of the east on European fashion: fabrics, trousers- shalwar, shawls... The impact, not just a borrowing. In France immigrants from Arab Algeria and Morocco were recognized as successful French writers long ago. Tragically famous Salman Rushdie even before scandalous The Satanic Verses was one of the most popular writers in Great Britain, published in English.
Life of the country in which migrants settle down becomes more diverse. Unusual music, way of life, ideas, opportunity of exposure to distant and exotic cults, whether it is Buddhism or Krishnaism at first please the eye and ear of educated citizens of the host country. The world starts to feel and understand: difference is great.
But the mechanism of the dialogue of culture contradicts the psychological model of ghetto. As it is known, it originated not in the result of pursuits but in the result of the desire to save own identity. And here instead of dialogue confrontation appears. But it is not absolute. Culture of ghetto adopts much from the host country, changes in search of ways to live together. The example is so called European Islam, event, from my point of view, more cultural than religious. Muslim theologians and activists not radicals but pacificators suggest putting aside some Islamic customs, non-acceptable for Europeans from cultural and ethical point of view. Let’s say cruel corporal punishments. Another example is from household sphere – tricks of fashion designers not violating prohibitions of Islam but allowing the woman to be coquettish and attractive.
Any way, the ghetto is isolation in the first place. This tendency is increasing even in ultra mobile America. Confrontation of customs and cultures is a part of life of many countries and a part of the world process.
Migrants of today are the production of globalization. It makes shifting of “manpower” and “representatives of foreign cultures” around the world a common event. It is difficult to suppress. Migrants under conditions of globalism are the response to cultural and economic expansion of the West. The West advances everywhere and in return migrants leak slowly.
Globalization undergoes testing by culture. In these circumstances different mechanisms switch on: assimilation of newcomers and the way they enter the world of the host country, rejection of foreign culture and response to what the foreigners bring in with them.... A large role is played by the mechanism of reverse transfer of elements of European culture to the countries – sources of migration. It happens via families of migrants. For example, Europeanization of Turkey, the Philippines in many ways is the result of long-lasting stay of ten, hundreds of thousand people from these countries in European environment. They leave and then they come back. Of course, it meets rejection. But in the result of convergences and divergences some new cultural events and new cultural product appear.
By the way, rejection is not always a flashback. Al-Qaeda is not the return to the Middle Ages but the response to modern challenges. It is a new system of terroristic fight: recruiting, data base, granting, anonymity...
Crisis of virtual banking system in the West caused a series of speeches of Muslim publicists. They remind about advantages of Muslim banking system. It works well in Europe where Islamic banks are everywhere. In their work the system of fake securities, fake bonds - all that led to the world financial crisis is impossible. Koran prohibits usury, collection of interests. The one who gives the credit and the one who borrows are partners and risks between them are shared equally.
Migrants in Europe, as well as in Russia often remind about such important value as family and family bonds. People suffer privations and do hard labor for the sake of close people, remaining at home. They commit infractions and refuse assimilation for the sake of family. Concern about parents, desire to defend and save their women from the eye of the stranger, readiness to sacrifice everything for the sake of education for their children. These values are inherent for communities of migrants. They remind that we have lost a lot. I think this has beneficial influence on the society.
There is another side of migrant presence, important for Russia.
We keep nostalgia on the Soviet empire. To turn back the clock is impossible. But the presence of people from different parts of former empire reconstructs and preserves old links to some extent. It must be valued. Cultural institutions help to find the feeling of comfort, solidarity, communication in one language
A good example is given by Britain and its main museum which collected cultural monuments from all over the world. London of today is the capital of migrants. It has large communities of immigrants from all over the world. Thanks to the museum they manage not only to keep link with their own cultural heritage but to get acquainted with it better than they could have done it, being at home. The museum keeps in mind the migrant audience when creating expositions. Many temporary exhibitions are oriented to the presence of this or that communities. They are attracted to visiting the museum. Besides it is made without dalliance with national prejudices. Good academic style.
This example is one among many. Education of migrants, creation of comfortable for them atmosphere take place in many countries of the world. Russia also has practical and time-proved examples of coexistence and cultural interactions of different nations. Russian museums continue this tradition. A large role here is played by the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Cabinet of Curiosities), Russian Ethnographic Museum, History of Religions Museum. The imperial function executes the Hermitage. Many nations for decades have been proud that monuments of their cultural heritage are kept there. Thanks to the Hermitage these monuments are becoming famous and respected all over the world. The museum gives an opportunity to introduce national cultures in the world context.
What is extremely important, that migrants, living in Russia get acquainted with their own culture in the museum, feel link with the heritage, and bring up historical memory of children. What museums do can save the country from many hardships.