Culture, Heritage and Diversity

 

Barcelona fights cultural prejudice and stereotypes

 

Barcelona City Council has identified prejudices and stereotypes that are commonly associated with the local migrant community. It is now implementing an initiative to educate its citizens and combat negative perceptions of migrant groups.

 

This project is part of Barcelona City Councilís Intercultural Plan. In addition to the political support it receives from the city's authorities, it is also backed by 200 local organisations and 3000 individuals. All of them contribute to the implementation of a policy which promotes and manages the peaceful coexistence of an increasingly diverse population.

 

Barcelona City Councilís initiative includes the provision of free training for local actors who work with migrant communities; the dissemination of an educational comic strip illustrated by local artist Miguel Gallardo; the distribution of a handbook written for local actors who work in the field of social cohesion and intercultural integration; as well as the creation of a website which serves as a resource centre on policies implemented to combat prejudice and stereotypes.

 

"From Stereotyping to knowledge" is one of the areas this initiative focuses on. It seeks to combat stereotypes, prejudices and incorrect ideas of migrant communities, for instance by promoting the knowledge of the challenges caused by an increasingly diverse population. One of its objectives is to question the negative, unfounded ideas that hinder integration and coexistence of the cityís diverse inhabitants. This has been achieved by working with local networks, actors, social institutions, as well as by promoting the role of anti-prejudice workers.

 

Stereotypes and prejudices have been categorised into five areas. The analysis carried out in the framework of the initiative reveals commonly held misconceptions and negative perceptions of migrants in different situations and at various stages of their integration in everyday's life. Often people think that migrant communities abuse social and health care services. They erroneously believe that migrants receive funding to open up shops but do not declare their income and are not subject to inspections by the local taxation authorities. Another common misconception is that migrants make ill use of public spaces and display antisocial behaviour. Another prejudice is that migrants take Spanish peopleís jobs and are not qualified.

 

To fight these stereotypes the City Council operates free specialised training courses for local "anti-prejudice agents". They include information and communication tools to dismantle rumours and false perceptions of migrant communities. Between May and November last year 150 people from the cityís different services have attended them.

 

The first handbook to combat prejudice is under production. When the final version will be published, it will serve as a guide to combat the stereotypes affecting the culturally diverse population in Barcelona. Twelve incorrect perceptions and stereotypes are used as examples. Unbiased facts and figures are then provided to dismantle them. The anti-stereotypes network uses the current edition as a basis for its work.

 

An illustrated comic strip to combat prejudice and stereotypes on local migrant communities is distributed at various locations throughout the city, including libraries and civic centres. Each chapter uses a collection of data in order to gain a more balanced understanding of migrants and help dismantle wrong perceptions.

 

A specific anti-prejudice website has been launched (antiRUMORS). Its main functions are to collect data which enable citizens to access information relating to negative perceptions on cultural diversity; raise awareness of the cityís various actions and initiatives; and organise collective activities which allow for reflection on prejudices and stereotypes.

 

Barcelona City Councilís approach to dismantling stereotypes and prejudices has hit the road running. It involves numerous local actors and has developed tools to educate, inform and combat negative perceptions of migrant communities.

 

by Thomas Pavan-Woolfe

 


Source :

Press release published 24 November 2010: Barcelona launches an initiative to combat cultural diversity prejudices and stereotypes. Available at www.bcn.cat/media