Diversity and Oppotunity
Simon Crean stated in his speech in October 2011 on diversification and opportunity:
“With economies around the world in transition, diversification holds the key.
Diversification is the challenge of our time.
Diversification unlocks opportunities.
Investment in the arts and culture is central to that unlocking.”
The underlying idea in his statement is that tolerance and acceptance of difference is good and positive. I support frameworks that promote acceptance and tolerance.
However, diversity and diversification both imply division, the repeated and incremental splitting of a bordered thing or set. Each split reduces all or some of the other pieces.
The concept of diversity requires and implies a dominant framing culture (or mainstream) to define that which is being made diverse. Something can only contribute to diversity if it is defined as different. This is a subtle but powerful point, diversity contains and requires the concept of otherness or foreignness.
Simplistic use of diversity and diversification as a framework risks cutting up a metaphorical Australian pie into ever smaller pieces. Interculturality and intercultural dialogue is increasingly being used as a framework of equality. For example the Intercultural Cities 2008 White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue (COE 2008) defined intercultural dialogue as an “…open and respectful exchange of views between individuals, groups with different ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds and heritage on the basis of mutual understanding and respect.”
Reference: COE 2008 www.coe.int/dialogue