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A Take on …
The Right to Cultural Self-management

by Jorge Eduardo Padula Perkins -

Culture, in its many manifestations, plays a leading social, political, and economic role. How, then, can cultural hegemony be avoided? The author of this article argues that we should demand that cultural policy should above all provide people with tools that will allow them to generate and manage their own cultural expression.

We are currently experiencing a social, political, legal, and economic revaluation of culture, which is thereby playing an increasingly leading role, as much from the empirical point of view as from that of theoretical constructions.

Article 27 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”

Individuals’ and peoples’ right to culture is not limited to accessing its forms and manifestations; it includes production, promotion, and self-management.

Culture should be understood as a form of communication and free expression and, as such, its development should be promoted as naturally, intuitively, and proactively born from its actors, from the most intimate and legitimate personal and group interests.

In this context, a cultural agent is a facilitator for the designing, planning, and management of cultural projects, whose role should nevertheless not be mistaken with the indispensable role of a mediator. Everyone should be seen as potentially able to adopt a proactive attitude where culture is concerned.

“To manage,” according to Olmos and Santillán Güemes (2004), “is to originate, generate, produce deeds . . . which by nature implies movement, growth, creative transformation . . .” always linked to action.

Understanding cultural management as a “set of actions that make possible, make viable, awaken, germinate, and complexify cultural processes” (Guédez and Menéndez, 1994) clearly means that such actions are rooted in the human person and in primary groups, not in a professional trained in this respect, even though the latter can become a mediator if the circumstances are found to be appropriate by the true original bearers of the cultural right.

It would be a sign of social maturity to give people tools that can be used for cultural self-management as a way of reducing outside intervention in their gestation and production processes.

Indeed, “all those who are part of society must exercise and enjoy their right to culture, which is not only the possibility of having access to the consumption of everything on offer but is also freedom of speech and the promotion, for minorities, of their own identity, free of an imposed hegemonic model” (Olmos, 2004).

This leads to demanding a sort of cultural literacy. In this respect, García Carrasco (2009) points out the validity of the expression “multiple literacies,” which puts the literacy process in many dimensions of a broad range of cultural integration.

If what is desired is to promote a culture that emerges naturally and free of conditioning, the related policies should include a large dose of dissemination of knowledge generically attributed to management. A true contribution to the democratization of culture should make individuals and small social groups the receivers of theory and practice tools for action.

URL : www.alliance21.org/2003/article3486.html
PUBLICATION DATE: 25 October 2010