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Archive of European Projects

Negociating Identity: a Training Seminar on Minority Issues for Youth Workers and Leaders of Jewish, Armenian and Roma backgrounds
Start date: 01 Aug 2014, End date: 31 Dec 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This seminar brought together youth workers and leaders linked to European diaspora and minority communities (notably Jewish, Roma and Armenian) for an exploration of the theme of minorities. The seminar took place in Georgia, a country where minorities are a very present and often delicate issue and involved a particular focus on minorities in Georgia. Identity is a very real preoccupation for young people in general, and particularly for those with a minority, immigrant or otherwise unusual background. For better or for worse, multiple and layered identities are a lasting feature of modern Europe. It was therefore important to provide frameworks for young people to address and discuss questions surrounding multiple and layered identities in a way that will empower, not generate frustration, and facilitate creative action, not stigmatize it. If the identity landscape of modern European societies is complex, it is particularly so for some groups, including the three groups involved in this seminar - Jews, Roma and Armenians. As relatively thinly spread groups, all three historically present in almost every European country, their populations have experienced considerable movement within Europe over the 20th century in particular. These communities moreover constantly face questions of how to preserve their culture and prevent assimilation. The seminar trained successfully youth workers by exploring the subject and exchanging experience between groups and countries. This will lead to a greater awareness of the many frameworks available for identities, and particularly how these implicit frameworks vary from one country to the next. With this it mind, participants are able to better adopt a pragmatic approach in which identities and cultural resources can be negociated creatively between minority groups and the rest of society. This approach involved in particular an inquisitive and open mind towards culture, politics and history, a critical approach to national mythologies and active participation in public, including political, life. The presence of individuals from different diaspora and minority groups, furthermore, made it possible to open up the discussion and explore new ground together, and to lay the ground for future exchanges of best practice and coordinated action. The seminar dedicated particular attention to the situation of minorities in Georgia. This helped to focus the methods and ideas shared at the seminar on a particularly vivid case. This should enrich the learning process without detracting from the objective of the seminar, which is to learn ways of dealing with identity issues which is pragmatic, results oriented and avoids confrontations.
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