Journal of Urban Culture Research


Evelin Lindner

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Unity in diversity is at the centre of dignity. It means that people of all classes and colors intermingle in a spirit of mutual care and respect. Traditionally, throughout the past millennia, uniformity in division has been practised almost everywhereon the planet: to strengthen their competitive advantage over enemy out-groups, in-groups maintained a strictly unequal domination of higher beings over lesser beings. Unity in diversity is a more complex concept as it requires the readiness and ability to consider everyone else as equal in dignity, and it calls for the skills to enter into dialogue with equals. As long as such a culture is not yet established, unity in diversity has the potential to trigger uneasiness, including feelings of humiliation, and can lead to attempts to cleanse and exclude diversity so asto return to the more familiar and less complex experience of uniformity in division. Urban contexts are prime experimental laboratories for this transition. For urban dignity to flourish and social and ecological sustainability to emerge, interdisciplinary dialogue is needed to overcome the traditional practise of domination over people and over nature. Urban dignity flourishes when the city is regarded in terms of a family that collaborates in mutual communal sharing and stewardship of their environment, while urban dignity collapses when priority is given to clambering for power and status, be it through overt oppression or cloaked as economic necessity. Artists can play a central role in creating conditions for social interactions of dignity instead of humiliation. Music, for instance, has the power to unite. One example was given by Oslo citizens when they reacted to the 22 July 2011 terror attacks in Norway by gathering in front of the courthouse singing 'The Rainbow People.'



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