Culture, Heritage and Diversity


Donostia/San Sebastian engaged deeply with diversity


Naiara Sampedro I would like to preface these words by referring to a basque expression: azala eta mamia (literally, “skin and flesh”). In the language of us, it means from the surface and from deep downinside, by looking at the surface and at what is below it at the same time. Donostia/San Sebastian City Council has recently set up a department for diversity, and right from the start we were in no doubt that we had to create this department from our roots, fromour basqueness; we are in fact making a great contribution towards diversity, because we are giving the world our own distinct and unique language and culture.


Only by acknowledging our own identity, our language and our country can we acknowledge the identity of other people.This starting point is essential in order to proclaim diversity. And it was from this starting point that we set up the Department for Diversity in Donostia/San Sebastian last June. People of different origins and cultures live in our city, and this department seeks to guarantee and promote the political, social, economic, language and cultural rights of everyone, with the ultimate aim of building co-existence, in terms of skin and flesh, on the surface and deep down inside.


And the first step was to make a diagnosis, a quantitative and qualitative analysis that would provide us with a photo of the city: diversity of origins and coexistence in Donostia. That is how we found out that four out of every ten inhabitants of our city had been born elsewhere. That is how we found out thatrelations among Donostia in habitant sof different origins is one of respect, although interaction is very limited and, as a result, mutual knowledge is minimal. That is how we found out that we share the same space but not together; we may eat pintxoak (canapés) in the same street, but I do so with my friends and you do so with yours.


About 185,000 people live in Donostia and 17,962 of them were born in 141 different countries worldwide. This diagnosis has provided us with the skin, with its numbers and conclusions, and we have complemented that diagnosis with the citizens themselves, in terms of flesh, because through this participatory process we have to discuss, reflect on and share by going out to the neighbourhoods and listening to each other. That is how we have shared the diagnosis with people, and the process has been truly enriching as well as significant in its modesty, because it was the first time that something like this had ever been done in our city, and the process has already yielded its first fruits.


We have set about building a network of associations to promote cultural diversity in Donostia. The fact is, this is one of the contributions made by citizens during the series of meetings, and we have already got down to working on it, because our aim is to support that accumulation of strength and to work on diversity in a collective way, in terms of skin and flesh. We have made considerable progress within the space of a year. But from now on, we have much to accomplish along the road of diversity, and we will progress along that road together and in collaboration, on the surface and deep down inside.


And finally, I would like to refer to the image of our department. The logo consists of four blue bubbles each one bearing the letters of different alphabets and together forming a circle. There is no doubt that it is an image that clearly reflects what diversity means in terms of skin and flesh.


Naiara Sampedro

Donostia/San Sebastian City Councillor for Cultural Diversity