Oct 18–20, 2007

New York - Berlin

Cultural Diversity in Urban Space

Languages: German and English with simultaneous translation

The metropolises of New York and Berlin both hold a strong attraction for people from the most disparate ethnic, social and political backgrounds. New York districts such as Chinatown and Little Odessa have fostered distinct ethnic communities which have put down roots without threatening to break apart the greater urban fabric. What holds cities together, and what drives them apart? What do ethnic and cultural diversity mean in the contexts of New York and Berlin, and what could the German capital learn from NYC with regard to integration strategies? In lectures, discussions and interventions, this three-day conference will examine the dynamics of these two cities.

What potentials does diversity hold for urban life and politics? "New York – Berlin: Diversity, Cultures, Urban Spaces" inquires into the differences and similarities between the two cities in their handling of ethnic and cultural diversity, in the use of public space, and in public participation in processes of urban development.

Among the issues on the agenda will be affirmative action, the policy in the USA of preferential treatment for members of traditionally disadvantaged population groups. Could affirmative action be a suitable instrument with which to guide integration processes in Berlin?

Comparable urban districts in the two cities form the departure point for an exchange between architects, urban planners, sociologists and those engaged in the cultural sector. While Harlem and Berlin's Kreuzberg are districts with a concentration of social problems, both have also discovered new opportunities. How can, and how should, cultural institutions respond to cultural diversity? How can they develop new approaches by which to reach out to and involve directly neighbouring communities and at the same time carry out programmes relevant to the city at large?

The urban renewal projects of Times Square and Berlin's Potsdamer Platz generated heated debate. Such prominent central locations are focal points for cities' self-conception and for the negotiation of decision-making criteria for the uses of and interventions in public space.

Taking programmes of the Bronx Council on the Arts and initiatives in Berlin as examples, the conference will explore the question of how creative milieus can work against social disintegration. Finally, large urban improvement schemes such as Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and the Humboldt Forum in Berlin will serve as a basis for the discussion of possibilities and strategies for involving city residents in urban development and decision-making processes.

The conference is a joint event of the House of World Cultures and the Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin/New York.

Concept: Susanne Stemmler (Center for Metropolitan Studies) and Sven Arnold (House of World Cultures)

null The conference "New York – Berlin: Diversity, Cultures, Urban Spaces" is part of "Asia-Pacific Weeks 2007 – Asia-Pacific: Changing the World". Asia-Pacific Weeks receives funding from the Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin DKLB.