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Meeting the Challenge of Cultural Diversity in Europe

Moving Beyond the Crisis

Robin Wilson

Europe has talked itself into a refugee and security crisis. There is, however, a misrecognition of the real challenge facing Europe: the challenge of managing the relationship between Europeans and the currently stigmatized ‘others’ which it has attracted. Making the case against a ‘Europe of walls’, Robin Wilson instead proposes a refounding of Europe built on the power of diversity and an ethos of hospitality rather than an institutional thicket serving the market.
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Chapter 10: Europe facing the world: an ethos of hospitality

Robin Wilson


‘Europe’ can only have an existential meaning as an adventure involving a constant exchange with the Other, through which it renews itself and develops. This implies an ethos of hospitality, including towards refugees, rather than the current focus on keeping the stranger at bay. This is not only morally questionable but also economically self-defeating. The comparative experiences of Europe and the US in the twentieth century show the greater economic dynamism which diversity permits. Refugees in the US have performed better in income generation and entrepreneurship than the indigenous population, while the stagnation of Japan can be linked to its nature as a closed society. Numerous studies link diversity to ‘creative cognition’ and hence innovation in a knowledge economy. Refugee integration does require upfront investment, including, for example, in addressing trauma, but it pays off in the long run.

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