28 de setembro de 2008

In(visible) border

...4th part

«Cities in which more than half of mankind live today, spend most of their lives, are the places on which the outcomes of the chaotic and uncontrolled globalisation processes converge. Three of the outcomes are particularly important in shaping the conditions of insecurity that mark contemporary life.

First, our cities are the dumping grounds for the globally produced problems: pollution of water or air, warming up of the planet, these are global products, side effects of the chaotic nature of the globalising process. But it is the municipal authorities and the city residents that have to worry about making air for breathing and water for drinking, and defend the living conditions in the city themselves against the dangers arising from climatic changes. The massive migration of people around the world, the rising numbers of homeless economic migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, is also a product of globalising processes; they all end up inside the city in their search for bearable life conditions, and providing such conditions becomes a task falling on the shoulders of the city and its residents.

Second, it is the city that turns into the principal battlefield where freedom and security, two paramount values indispensable in a life worth living, meet, struggle, and seek reconciliation. Third, city turns today into the main laboratory in which local solutions to global problems are sought, designed, experimented with and put to test; at the same time however, city offers the type of surrounding most conducive to the acquisition of skills, the arts, abilities and habits that may help enormously in confronting, tackling and possibly resolving those global issues exactly where they ought to be handled – on the global scene. Cities are laboratories where the ways and means of human peaceful cohabitation, cross-cultural dialogue and understanding are developed.

Cities were always the places where strangers lived together. It is in fact the definition of the city: the place where strangers live together permanently while keeping their differences and without stopping being strangers. Each time you walk from home to your working place or to a shop or a cinema, you meet hundreds of people who are complete strangers to you and who will remain strangers after your meeting. For this reason, city life always evoked contradictory sentiments. »

Zygmunt Bauman
New Frontiers and Universal Values
Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona 2004

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