WHY SCHOOL? – On identities and intercultural issues
Group 484, in cooperation with partners (Vaša prava BiH and Jelena Šantić Foundation), organised a four-day seminar “WHY SCHOOL? – On identities and intercultural issues”, for students of social sciences from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the Zepter Hotel in Vrnjačka Banja on 22 to 25 October 2020. The seminar was organised within the Joint UN Regional Programme “Dialogue for the Future”, conducted by UN agencies, and funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund (UN PBF), as well as with the support of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia and the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society of the Government of the Republic of Serbia.
The seminar was conceived as part of a broader educational process for university and secondary school students, on the topic of interculturalism, and contained a theoretical and practical part. University students thus had the opportunity to hear lectures and participate in discussions on identity, belonging, (de)construction of tradition, (inter)cultural heritage, (de)construction of stereotypes and prejudices, as well as on overcoming challenges in multicultural societies. In addition, they were introduced to the methodology of working with youth on researching intercultural heritage in local communities, as well as various artistic techniques and practices in the function of social engagement, promoting the things researched and encouraging youth for activism. In that sense, the practical part of the seminar was an exercise of this process: students were tasked to conduct small research on the intercultural heritage of Vrnjačka Banja, and then to shape the presentation of everything they had researched, with the help of a team of artists. The research was made possible owing to the hospitality of the employees of the “Dr Dušan Radić” National Library and the Homeland Museum – Castle of Culture, and special thanks go to Dragoslav Đurović, a teacher at Vrnjačka Banja High School, who taught us about important places and personalities of Vrnjačka Banja. The purpose of the research exercise was to prepare university students to work with secondary school students, and the plan was for students to conduct online workshops with secondary school students in 6 towns in Serbia and 2 in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the end of the year, with the help of their mentors – Group 484 associates.
Dejan Ilić, a theorist of literature and gender studies, editor of the “Book Factory” publishing house, who spoke about identities, tradition and heritage and Biljana Đorđević, assistant professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, who gave a lecture “What is progressive in the progressive dilemma in a multicultural society? Is there a dilemma at all?”, were in charge of the theoretical part of the seminar.
Tamara Cvetković from the educational programme of Group 484 and the creative team of associates, consisting of: Ivana Bogićević Leko, Dragan Protić from the art collective Škart, Jelena Mijić, Luka Knežević Strika, Jelena Jaćimović Jaćim, Sanja Stamenković, Jelena Ranđelović and Miloš Janković presented the long-term practice of Group 484 in researching (history) of everyday life and (inter)cultural heritage of towns. This team also led the practical part of the seminar – researching the heritage of Vrnjačka Banja and the workshop “Art as a Mediator”, where teams of participants were engaged in processing the collected material and designing the presentation. This was an introduction to further planning work with secondary school students in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
At the seminar, we wanted to present various research sources, practices, and forms of presentation of the researched, and we were helped by: Aleksandar Zograf, comic book author; curators of the Museum of the History of Yugoslavia: Simona Ognjanović, Ana Panić and Sara Sopić; and the organiser of the “Halfway” literary festival, Ružica Marjanović. Sara Sopić presented the accompanying educational programme of the exhibition “Yuga, my Yuga – guest workers’ stories, about Yugoslav workers temporarily working in Austria and Germany”, and Simona Ognjanović and Ana Panić presented the process of creation and life of the exhibition “The Nineties: Glossary of Migration”. Aleksandar Zograf spoke about the ways of researching everyday life and presenting experiences of marginalised people through his own comics, and Ružica Marjanović presented various practices of researching everyday life and using that material in literary works by contemporary authors in the post-Yugoslav area.
In addition to research practices in the function of social engagement, we also dealt with other activist forms and practices, on the Internet and in public spaces. Guests from BiH – Nataša Đorđić, Denis Dugonjić and Branislav Lukić Luka presented the Lucido Group and the ToPeer organisation from Doboj and their work in the field of youth activism. We were also interested in activism on social networks, which was discussed by journalist Lana Nikolić during the lecture “Instagram activism and betrayed expectations”. By connecting theory and practice, Galeb Nikačević, journalist, author and Agelast podcast host, who uses his popular YouTube channel as a platform to discuss various marginalised topics and social groups, often with guests leading various struggles for a better and fairer society, gave a lecture entitled “Between the Worlds: Identity contradictoriness and the (im)possibility of empathy”.
The evening hours of the seminar were reserved for the film programme and film talks, and the seminar ended with the division into teams that will design programmes for secondary school students in several towns in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.