Ilenya Camozzi

The rise of multicultural festivals. Beyond cultural commodification and «ethnic» authenticity

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: multicultural festivals, cultural commodification, ethnic authenticity, intercultural practices, multicultural societies.

The number of multicultural and ethnic festivals held in immigration countries has greatly increased in recent decades. There are multiple, complex reasons for this, ranging from it being an innovative economic strategy used by many formerly Fordist cities in the West to «creatively» renew their urban identity – by staging so-called mega-events designed to promote tourism – to policies of safeguarding cultural difference in order to build non-conflictual «multicultural societies». In recent years, various disciplines have begun to investigate the growing spread of multicultural festivals: above all tourism sciences, human geography and management. Yet sociology, and the sociology of intercultural relations in particular, has not yet devoted much attention to the rise and characteristics of such events, despite the fact that multicultural festivals can be viewed as public rituals and cultural institutions, where culture is produced and circulated, also in terms of representations of ethno-cultural diversity. My paper aims to highlight the need to examine so-called multicultural events from the intercultural relations perspective. My point is that the study of these festivals may represent a fruitful opportunity to shed light on contemporary intercultural dynamics, going beyond the simplistic vision of such events as a form of cultural commodification and reproduction of «ethnic» authenticity. My paper focuses on the generative effects of multicultural festivals, going beyond the staged celebration of cultural diversity and inviting readers to look at the social actors involved (in the role of organizers, performers and visitors) and their social practices before, during and after the events themselves.

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