Post-referendum views from the UK
We are writing as active members of the CLE initiative, five days after the UK referendum on membership of the EU, in which one of us had a vote and the other did not, and both of us are deeply dismayed at the outcome.
Cultural Literacy in Europe was created through the forward-thinking of the Humanities committee of the European Science Foundation, which continued to support the activities of the initiative – together with COST – for the next eight years. From its inception, it has been based on the understanding that literacy is not so much a national as an international project, whose goals are shared by learners, educators, policy makers, artists, and professionals across national, religious, class or any other distinctions. The ‘Europe’ in our name stands for the awareness that issues of citizenship, literacy and cultural understanding require us to work across all kinds of borders and differences. ‘Europe’ is not and has never been, for us, a criterion of inclusion and exclusion from the CLE project. Rather, that word signals a deep sense of belonging to a cultural environment which, in spite of a complex and often difficult past, is committed to constructing a shared, inclusive future. The Europe we value is a joint enterprise celebrating both difference and consensus.
The London Statement produced in 2015, after the first international CLE conference, clearly states that Cultural Literacy ‘is a way of looking at social and cultural issues through the lens of literary thinking, employing communication, comparison and critique on a scale beyond that of one language or one nation-state’. In the light of the results of the UK referendum, we want to reaffirm the importance of that transnational perspective. Europe, understood as the ideal of an inclusive community engaged in the production of knowledge and understanding, remains one of the keywords of our project, and we will continue to work in pursuit of that ideal.
Naomi Segal & Loredana Polezzi