Initiative of cultural mix exchange on the new Silk Road

Hatem Elgoharey
2019 / 11 / 17

On 17 September, the Chinese side extended an invitation to me, representing the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and the General Egyptian Book Organization, to attend a special forum organized by the Chinese Embassy in the Chinese Cultural Center in Giza during Last September, it was among a very-limit-ed number of invitations sent by the embassy on behalf of the “Central Academy of Cultural Management” in Beijing.
Most Egyptian participants commented on previous cultural programs offered by the Chinese side and ways to develop them in the future, while i presented a written initiative that i had prepared specifically for the meeting entitled: Initiative of "cultural mix exchange" on the new Silk Road.
This is the text of the written initiative put forward to the Chinese side:
“The launch of the new Silk Road project comes in the second decade of the 21st century, following three major shifts at the international and cultural level, the first is the fall of the Soviet --union-- in the early 1990s, the emergence of the cultural globalization movement and the dominance of the American the pattern culturally, Finally the emergence of the Arab Spring revolutions. Thus, transformations are completed and culminating in the new century with the emergence of the New Silk Road Project and the emergence of China as a rising international center of gravity, Extending bonds of cooperation towards Africa, Asia, Europe as well as others with the slogans of cooperation, friendship and love, Egypt and Arab countries were honored to participate in many economic and cultural activities of the Chinese Silk Road, the dream remains what culture can give to the new Silk Road and its common and hopeful spirit of civilization.
Especially under the notorious employment of culture in the Western approach during the twentieth century, where the culture in the new Silk Road between Egypt and China and the rest of the countries around the road, closer to the concept of " exchange of cultural mix" than the idea of containment and cultural invasion practiced by the Western School, I believe that this European concept must be overcome and be replaced by us with a new civilized vision that does not adopt hegemony, and respects the spaces of all human cultures and accepts its diversity as a natural feature of the group of countries involved in the Silk Road project, Within the framework of interaction, acquaintance and search for the common as much as possible, this is the conceptual core of a new concept of “cultural diplomacy” that should be embraced by the Silk Road Initiative in its cultural aspect which I call : Initiative of "cultural mix exchange".
Many Western countries have regarded the concept of "cultural diplomacy" as a platform for influence and soft domination, UNESCO, as a more autonomous organization, tried to present its own concept of “world culture” in a counter-concept, dedicating resources to how each country preserves its intangible cultural heritage´-or-what we might call the country s unique “cultural mix” according to its own “repository of identity”, where each country has its own mix and conditions that gives it a unique cultural identity.
In this context, the Silk Road Initiative and its participating countries should be based on creating a new global center and a serious alternative to the European / American Center in some way, To create neighboring, and interactive centers with the new Chinese center at the heart of the Silk Road and its participating countries, Which I think is the main idea of the Initiative of "cultural mix exchange", and is based on dealing with the other according to the understanding, respect and learning from its own “cultural mix”. That is, understanding and mutual understanding and building the space for joint human communication through "cultural commonality", as a platform for the development of most other aspects of various human relations along the Silk Road.
Here, we must be very careful when conceiving the understanding of the other in this Initiative of "cultural mix exchange" along the new Silk Road., understanding the other will surpass many areas of Bad intentions´-or-presumption of control intent, presenting the most important basics of human sociology, which is: respect for the other, respect for the other and not swallow and dominate, so under international relations, when dealing with a party, your understanding of its cultural history and its "repository of identity" will give you most of the keys to deal with it as well, according to the participants and possible cultural possibilities. That should be essential as to be the new alphabet of human and cultural relations in the 21st century, and be the key to long-term rather than short-term success and failure.
The fields of this cultural exchange work within the scope of comparison and searching for a multi-track of the "cultural elements" among the Silk Road countries and all the countries of the world at a later stage, by searching the means of integrating cultural elements among the Silk Road countries. For example, it can be said that the "paper and paper industry" as a basis for the Initiative of "cultural mix exchange" that standing on respect and understanding between the other as between Egypt and China. Egypt has its own history and the elements of intangible cultural heritage in papyrus, China also has a similar history of making similar writing paper from bamboo stems and some other materials, here, paper and its products can be historically matched as a cross-cultural component between Egypt and China. And searching in the arts of integrating each and reviewing the history of each of them, organizing exhibitions for that and turn it into a creative industry that preserves that cultural element between the two countries. Chinese calligraphy can be practiced on Egyptian papyrus, and ancient Arabic and Egyptian calligraphy is practiced on Chinese paper as a kind of exchange of love and cultural blending.
The same example applies to Chinese and Egyptian folk medicine and their customs and methods--;-- it is possible to review the parallel methods in each inheritance and to exchange the test of each recipe and its effect on the same subject. This could include performing arts, in festivals to re-enact the popular perception of a cultural element in a range of cultures. For example, a festival can be held among the countries of the road to present popular imagery in a theatrical form, for the idea of "ogre"´-or-"Ghoul"´-or-"evil spirit" and its representations in the culture of China, Africa and Egypt.
At the level of singing in the elements of the Initiative of "cultural mix exchange", a festival can be held for the songs of the old birthdays and the accompanying rituals and dances between the group of the Silk Road countries in a celebration of singing and the arts of movement. Also comparative and cultural blending can be applied to many other cultural elements in festive performing arts such as: rituals of war and reconciliation in Egyptian and Chinese tribal groups.
In the same context, cooking festivals can be made about the cooking habits of Egypt, China and the Silk Road countries, using the essential ingredients of life like milk and its products in every culture,´-or-meat and inherited ways to save and cook in every culture,´-or-dates and methods of conservation and associated products in each culture,´-or-sea fishing habits, salting fish, and saving in every culture, and festivals of the agricultural environment and its components, festivals of the marine´-or-river environment and its components, and festivals of the mountain environment and its components.
In all of the above, flexibility and pluralism must be present in: Presenting, preserving, and sustaining those cultural elements between Egypt, China and the countries involved in the Silk Road Initiative, and defining the “target audience” when presenting.
In the end, the New Silk Road Initiative and its participating countries remain an ambitious and essentially culturally civilized dream and challenge, in order to succeed in the initiative to overcome the concepts of civilizational conflict that was presented by the model of the West in the twentieth century towards the other. Egypt and China remain key partners in the initiative, to give it its cultural and civilized spirit derived from their historical weight and their long human experience, towards a more just, loving, tolerant and cooperative world towards the other. "

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