Why an Anti-Rumours Strategy?

October 27th, 2015

By Daniel de Torres

In today’s world learning to live together in diversity is a global and shared challenge in which the role of cities is crucial. The intercultural approach to manage diversity promoted by the ICC programme of the Council of Europe emphasises, among other principles, the need to promote positive interaction among all citizens.

Avoiding segregation and ghettoisation, discrimination and racism is a fundamental objective. And so it is to promote the “diversity advantage” by creating urban environments that translate cultural diversity in a positive resource for the development and enrichment at all levels.

But this is not possible if there is no positive interaction to relativise the cultural, ethnic or religious differences and strengthen the common things that we share as citizens.

Five years ago we started the anti-rumour strategy (ARS) of Barcelona. I couldn’t imagine then that five years later I would be helping to adapt and promote this strategy in many cities of different countries.

The ARS aims to reduce one of the major barriers hindering the positive interaction between people. The barrier formed by ignorance, prejudices and stereotypes about “the other” and “the different”.

The experience of each city has greatly enriched the whole strategy. Beyond the fundamental evaluation of the specific impact of the ARS on citizens’ perceptions, we can identify other “indirect impacts” I think are also very relevant.

The strategy can capture the attention and interest of key stakeholders, from the media, institutions, organizations, sectors such as education and culture and the general public. Speaking of diversity from rumours attracts attention. The ARS uses this interest to deepen participatory processes and generate new collaborative networks that create stimulants bridges of relationship between government and civil society. It provides a methodology that is easily adaptable to many different contexts and also facilitates its sustainability. Reinforces the importance of education in critical thinking and forces us to look in the mirror and identify our own weaknesses that we often tend to hide. We can say that the ARS is partly an excuse to address in greater depth key issues of our society.

But one of the best arguments I found to support the need of an anti-rumour strategy, come from the ancient Greece. Pierre Hadot summarises the most important legacy that leaves the stoic philosopher Epictetus:

“Become aware of our prejudices, ghosts we have created, to combat mirages. That’s what will bring us, actually, to be free citizens.”

Not bad advice for the idea of Europe that many of us want to reinforce in these times of uncertainty and populism growth. The ARS is one of the tools we have to fight these ghosts.

This article was originally published on the Council of Europe website and has been reproduced  here with permission.

DanideTorresAbout the author: Dani de Torres is an expert on intercultural policies and advisor of the “Intercultural cities” programme of the Council of Europe. He also advises other international organisations and several cities. He is Director of the Spanish Network of Intercultural Cities and leads the “Anti Rumours Global” project, an innovative strategy to dismantle prejudices and stereotypes to prevent discrimination and racism. He is also co-founder of Imacity, an organization on cities global development focusing on diversity issues, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Learn more about the Anti-Rumours Strategy (ARS) and the BCN Anti-Rumour Campaign.

Watch the YouTube Barcelona Anti-Rumour channel.


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