Cultural Practices within and Across (2010) answers the question, ‘What is deglobalisation?’

Cultural Practices within and Across (2010) is a compendium of European trans-local cultural production; a useful handbook for looking at ‘the role of culture in a society which faces a number of economic, social, political and environmental crises.’ The book was edited by the ‘cultural collaborative platform for reciprocal empowerment and trans-local dissemination,’ Rhyzom. Rhyzom was set up in 2000 between 5 organizations: atelier d’architecture autogérée (coordinator – Paris, FR), Platforma Garanti Contemporary Art Center (Istanbul, TR), AGENCY – The University of Sheffield (UK), Paragon Studios Ltd (Belfast, UK), Public works (London, UK). The book is the result of ten years of curatorial projects,workshops, and research into how cultural producers across Europe are shifting to more local forms of cultural production in direct resistance to economic globalisation. The book documents artist groups, community groups, and cultural projects in the process of building practices that resist globalisation and build a cultural commons, from farms, eco-villages, intentional communities, monasteries, Transition Towns, to rural art networks. It is written by arts professionals-architects, artists, and curators, as well as activists, sociologists, geographers, and educators.  The Rhyzom editors call this process building ‘cultural biodiversity.’

 

The book is divided into several organizational subheadings, for quicker reference, and one of the more interesting sections, which also explains the idea of ‘cultural biodiversity,’ is the R-Urban section. This section was organized by atelier d’architecture autogérée (AAA). It deals with their research into projects-both artistic and activist-which led them to develop the concept of ‘cultures of resilience.

Promoting biodiversity in all its forms, is about developing resilience to crisis–environmental, social, and economic. R-Urban, as explained by AAA, is about an extended notion of culture, that connects the rural and the urban, explores ecological economies, and emphasizes the importance of culture to develop a deeper concept of sustainabilty, rather than an idea of sustainability that that focuses solely on the environmental. Their concept of cultures of resilience contextualizes the projects they chose to include in the book.

From AAA, ‘The R-Urban strategy proposed by AAA explores alternatives to the current models of living, producing and consuming in cities, suburbs and the countryside. It draws on the active involvement of the citizen in creating solidarity networks, closing local cycles between production and consumption, operating changes in lifestyles, acting ecologically at the level of everyday life’

For example, AAA visited the Transition Town Totnes (TTT) in Great Britain. Transition Towns are now a global movement based on preparing for the inevitable shift from a fossil fuel based economy and society. TTT is a community-based organization that is working to strengthen one town’s economy and develop localized responses to life after oil. AAA also visited Eco-village Sieben Linden in Germany, where the community members commit to a ‘self-sustainable and low-emission’ lifestyle. (See image of the Eco-Village community garden above)

These research trips are not to specific art projects, but rather cultural projects that are working to create new social structures, new ways of living, and economic possibilities. Each of these projects, and the others included in the section, look cryptically at how systems are organized–energy systems, food production systems, and economic systems–while experimenting with different approaches to organizing these systems based on ecological and sustainable models. You can read this section online or in the book form to learn more about how people across Europe are ‘acting ecologically at the level of everyday life.’

 

Not convinced you need this encyclopedia of cultural projects to learn more about ‘cultures of resilience‘ and ‘deglobalisation‘? Well, the book’s cover folds out into a map! A great resource.

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