Mihai Stepan Cazazian

A EUROPE OF DIASPORAS CONFERENCE / National and ethnic identity of diasporas in the public space

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November 25th, 2016, 11 a.m., BUCHAREST, ROMANIA

Topic: National and ethnic identity of diasporas in the public space





The conference is being organized in the context of the European network “A Europe of Diasporas” and will focus on the public representation of diaspora identities, and on the way these representations reflect, and also influence identities. In view of their dispersion and of their dependence on the rest of society around them, individuals who share a diasporic identity are particularly strongly influenced by, or sensitive to, the representation of these identities in the societies where they live. Under what conditions, for instance, might these representations contribute to the desirability, or otherwise of diasporic identities? How do these representations differ between European countries, and how do they impact the communities in question? And what strategies have diasporic groups attempted to seek to influence these public representations? The examination of this subject will come as an indispensable complement to the work already carried out by the Europe of Diasporas network over the past 18th months.


There are several reasons for the choice of these concepts. According to several authors, in any state, a public institution creates “symbolic dimensions and is reproduced in part by reference to those symbols. Thus the use of symbols – flags, monuments, ceremonies and so on – is not a superfluous extravagance, a throw-back to pre-rational age, but a central component of identity creation and maintenance”.1 It is the very nature of human beings grouped together in collectivities to form an identity. However, the process of this formation is not a simple one, identities being structured by a web of factors at the two different levels. The ethnic identity does not pop up from the middle of nowhere – it is shaped by all the others: the state, the civil society, the international realm. In return, the ethnic identity intervenes in the shape and structure of the other factors. In the same time, the Western assumption that people’s ‘national’ identity is with the territorial state in which they live and with no other (except in a residual way) is of little help when peoples who are distributed across states are concerned, such in the case of diasporas.

In many parts of Europe, even diasporas with strong identities suffered oblivion – the reaction after the collapse of the authoritarian regimes, but not only, was to seek restitution of these identities into the public’s minds.


The choice of the public space issue is that this can be defined as a fusion of areas that are, in theory, made available and accessible to all members of society. This approach can be analyzed by breaking down the meaning of “area” which implies outdoor areas such as streets, sidewalks, parks and squares, monuments and public buildings, but also symbolic aspects such as flags, anthems, traditional clothing. Moreover, more recently, the concept likewise encompasses virtual networks such as social networking websites. Diasporas of various kinds do express themselves in these frameworks. The availability and accessibility of public space are motivated by the non exclusivity character of the areas as well as the unlimited access to it. Furthermore, the public sphere is open to all members of the public (both majorities and minorities) in a society that are considered to meet the cultural and political criteria that identify with the notion of “public”.


1 SCHÖPFLIN,, op. cit, p. 29


Format: 20 minutes presentation, followed by 1h Q&A sessions (working language: English) – approx. four panels with three speakers and a moderator/discussant.


  1. Mihai Chioveanu, PhD, FSPUB (Head of Department)
  2. Felicia Waldman, PhD, UB (The Goldstein Goren Center)
  3. Oana-Valentina Suciu, PhD, FSPUB
  4. Ismael Cortez, doctoral student, UNESCO Institute of Philosophy; ismaelcortes_@hotmail.com
  5. Naher Arslan, President, Assyrians Federation of Belgium; naherarslan@gmail.com
  6. Nicolas Tavitian , Director, AGBU Europe; nicolas.tavitian@agbueurope.eu
  7. Silvia Ulloa, (doctoral student); silvia.ulloa@ncf.edu
  8. Stefan Popescu, PhD, SNSPA, (Centre of Advanced Strategies)
  9. Caterina Preda, Phd, FSPUB (Senior University Lecturer)
  10. Camelia Maria Craciun, PhD, UB (Judaic Studies Department, Lecturer)
  11. Babken Matevosyan, PhD in Political Science/IR (Researcher ERA Institute); babkenmat@gmail.com
  12. Dr. Vasilis Molos, PhD, (Visiting Assistant Professor of History NYU Abu Dhabi)
  13. Benny Fischer, President, EUJS – European Union of Jewish Students (Skype); benny@eujs.org
  14. Edward Kanterian, PhD, University of Kent (Skype)

Partners: AGBU, Armenian Union of Romania, The Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest, The Goldstein Goren Center, The Greek Cultural Foundation, CSIER – The Center for the Study of the History of Jews in Romania, Picture Factory. Location: The Palace of the National Military Circle, 1, Constantin Mile Street.


Nicolas Tavitian, + 32 495 77 08 67, nicolas.tavitian@agbueurope.eu

Oana-Valentina Suciu, + 40723 368 903, valentina.oana.suciu@gmail.com

Andreea Tănase, +40724 594 870, andacam@gmail.com

Narine Bogdan-Căuş, +40745 755 126, narinebacig@yahoo.co.uk