Plural Cultures – Plural Spaces: Franco-British Comparative Perspectives on the Institute for Islamic Cultures (Paris)

The primary aim of this programme of activity is to draw out the gestation andimplications of the ICI project. We will then document this process for future reference in the development, analysis and implementation of cultural policy, primarily in the UK. Thus this collective exploration, in partnership with the ICI team, will be enhanced by a Franco-British comparative dimension with input from researchers and practitioners working in and on questions of cultural management in spaces of dense immigrant experience in the UK as well as France. This will enable the identification of contrasts and commonalities in projects dedicated to the recognition and fostering of cultural difference within the frame of state-sponsored urban and social development in Europe. It will also enable sharper focus on the plurality of culture as inscribed within the mission of the ICI. The latter has already sought to bring other European and particularly British perspectives to bear on their complex and emerging mission. This current project will be an opportunity to reflect critically on what has been achieved through these efforts and to capture these insights for a UK research and social/cultural policy audience.

The key research questions for this project are thus transnational andinterdisciplinary, spanning architectural considerations and the institutionalframework under which funding is received and managed:

  • What factors played into ICI’s evolution (local pressure groups, economic regeneration, community development, security issues) and how is it taking its place within the dense landscape of cultural institutions in Paris?
  • What sort of modes of movement in and through the space of the ICI have been prioritised in the material and virtual construction of the centre? How do these modes compare and contrast with other institutions, in France and in the UK? How have they been informed by the particular features of Islamic cultures as understood in and by the ICI?
  • How does cultural and educational programming generate movement through the material and virtual space of the centre? What partnerships with other institutions underpin or facilitate this programming? How do these partnerships inflect the understanding of the plurality of cultures represented and served by the ICI?
  • How has the ICI emerged within the local area? How does this compare with other community-driven initiatives in France and the UK?
  • To what extent does the “capital city” effect impact on the visibility of the centre, both nationally and internationally? How has the ICI framed its relation to Islamic culture in other European capitals?
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