24 February 2017

Plural Cultures – Plural Spaces

ULIP is delighted to announce the launch of a new collaborative project with the Paris Institute for Islamic Cultures (ICI). The project, “Plural Cultures – Plural Spaces”, is funded by the British Academy and will bring together researchers and practitioners working in and on questions of cultural management from both sides of the Channel.

Taking the Paris Institute of Islamic Culture as the object of its study, “Plural Cultures – Plural Spaces”, will explore Franco-British comparative perspectives on the Institute as part of a wider reflection on contemporary cultural spaces and their role in modern retellings of national history.

Interest in the “reshaping” of national history – the different perspectives from which historical events are remembered and relayed - has been the focus of much recent academic work in cultural history and lies behind many urban regeneration projects in the form of cultural centres and museums in major cities around the world. The ICI, with its own role in the retelling of French colonial history, represents one of these projects. Directly funded by the Paris municipal authorities, the ICI constitutes a major work of urban regeneration across two sites in the socially challenged area of northern Paris, traditionally and currently a locus of immigration from Northern Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. It has a mission to provide a space of prayer as well as educational and cultural programming for users of all backgrounds. The plurality of the ICI’s different religious and secular functions, its multiple spaces, and the diversity of Islamic culture that it encompasses, means that it offers an important example of the hybrid solutions in cultural management sought by public institutions facing a rapidly diversifying population.

This project will explore everything from the evolution of the original conception of the ICI, its architecture, activities, relationships with the local community, and to its financing and management, aiming to document the its workings for future reference in the establishment of new cultural institutions and the development of cultural policy, both in the UK and elsewhere.

The focus of the project will be a two-day workshop, scheduled to take place later this Spring at the Paris Institute for Islamic Culture. Involving staff from ICI, ULIP, and several other Colleges of the University of London, the workshop will include presentations on the work and activities of ICI, a tour of the space and the local area, and several sessions discussing the ICI’s management, community relations, and outreach and engagement work.

A second workshop is planned for the Autumn, this time in London, allowing participants to revisit these topics with further discussion and to diffuse the results of the exchange for a wider British audience of researchers and policy makers.

For further information about the project, please see our webpages.

If you’d like to receive further updates about the project or to be involved, please contact Dr Anna-Louise Milne.