The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) organizes, in partnership with Allianz Cultural Foundation and in cooperation with Goethe-Institut and Süddeutsche Zeitung, “Europe and the Mediterranean in Times of Migration: Challenges and Opportunities”, a forum of discussions, readings, book presentation and music . The event will take place on October 11 and 12 at Alliaz Forum in Berlin.
While the massive influx of refugees to Germany has been regarded as the signal of danger and discontent by those skeptical or opposed to the government’s response to the humanitarian tragedy, proponents of the policy have seen opportunity. This intensifying polarisation overcasts the lived experience of exile, the daily negotiations of encountering a new reality and a new culture. Where does the exile’s gaze look? Is it forward or backward looking, inward or outward? How does it reconcile between loss, contingency and the present? As if a mirror, or prism, the refugees refract an image of contemporary German society, and the potentialities for its pluralist and cosmopolitan renewal in the future. The refugees are also the site of projection and representations. Between the sober pragmatism of opportunity, the civility of a positively-engaged society, and the sinister representations on incoming migrants as threats, what are the stakes confronting German society as a result of the massive influx?
The event features performances by the Damaskus String Quintet, readings by Sulayman Al-Bassam, Rosa Yaseen Hassan, Michael Kleeberg, the presentation of Europa: An Illustrated Introduction to Europe for Migrants and Refugees by Alia Malek and Thomas Dworzak, a panel discussion with Naika Foroutan, Gesine Schwan, Philippe Fargues and Gilbert Achcar, keynote address by Petros Markaris and closing address by Elias Khoury. The event will be inaugurated by welcome notes from Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger and Ghassan Salamé, and mark the launch of AFAC’s special program, the Beirut Berlin Creative Platform (BBCP).
Spearheaded by AFAC, the Berlin Beirut Creative Platform is a multi-disciplinary platform that aims to galvanize the vital inventiveness of Arab and European artists and institutions, towards empowering and enabling the production of art, culture and knowledge. The initiative aspires to shift the terms of perception and discourse, explore innovative and constructive actions to foreground the life-affirming potential of tolerance through the engagement of creative and artistic communities from both Europe and the Arab world. The BBCP is intentionally designed to embody a partnership between Arab and European cultural protagonists at par, because in our view the present crisis and its various alarming manifestations do not pertain only to European societies, but equally to the Arab region.