Beyond the state: UNESCO and the European Union
DOI link for Beyond the state: UNESCO and the European Union
Beyond the state: UNESCO and the European Union book
Cultural policy and no less urban cultural policy assumes the existence of the state. Indeed the emergence of cultural policy is very closely aligned to the development of the nation state in the West. There are a number of reasons for this, the most significant though relate to the desire to demarcate a national culture, including establishing what it means to belong to a particular nation, its (official) histories, connections to place and establishment narratives, as well as its values. Cultural policies provide a cloak of belonging, a way of understanding and legitimizing the occupancy of a particular geographically defined nation by particular ethnic groups at particular times. Cultural policy provides the story of a nation with a trajectory and rational, its myths, music and poetry, its sense of collective oneness – ‘one people, one culture, one nation, one history’ (Bennett 2001: 27), often under one god or monarch. A national cultural policy thus is (or should be) essentially a statement about ‘the nation’ and its shared (or at least officially sanctioned) identity, ideals and beliefs. The challenge lies in deciding what this means and what the process should be for determining it. Against this backdrop the incursion of transnational bodies into the field of cultural policy is a vexed endeavour, which on the one hand must occur in a way that provides a space for the continued autonomy of the nation, and its cultural agenda as expressed through policy, at the same time as instigating a set of policies that talk across and to the nation, drawing them into its remit in some way. In thinking about the transnational, the cultural policy approaches of two bodies stand out as worthy of scrutiny: those of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Both bodies have pursued a range of policies that directly focus on the local level, explicitly endorsing urban cultural policy approaches that foster forms of place, citizenship and creativity. Capital of Culture schemes stand out as emblematic of this approach but there are others. What is particularly interesting is the way in which these schemes negotiate the national
and the local, which is one of the subjects explored in this chapter as it considers the focus and implications of number of high-profile cultural initiatives, including those of the EU and UNESCO.