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Mapping Culture II: Debating Cultural Spaces and Places in Valletta, Malta Oct 2015



2nd Annual Valletta 2018 Foundation International Conference on Cultural Relations in Europe and the Mediterranean was held at the Mediterranean Centre.

22nd – 23rd OCTOBER 2015 

Valletta, Malta


The Valletta 2018 Foundation has launched a series of annual international conferences addressing different aspects related to cultural relations in Europe and the Mediterranean.

The first conference in this series, titled “Dialogue in the Med: exploring identity through networks” was held in September 2014, and brought together academics, researchers and cultural operators from across the Mediterranean to debate issues related to cultural mobility and networking. Proceedings from this conference will be published in due course.

The second conference with the title “Cultural Mapping: Debating Spaces and Places” was held on the 22nd & 23rd October 2015 at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta.



Wednesday 21st October

1900 Welcome reception hosted by the European Commission Representation in Malta – St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Valletta


Thursday 22nd October



           View from the Mediterranean Centre

The conference took place in the Sacra Infermeria Hall in Mediterranean Centre - a former hospital.

The hall of the former hospital



                                                                           Registration desk

 Mapping Culture II: Debating Cultural Spaces and Places 


0900 Welcome address by Jason Micallef, Chairman Valletta 2018 Foundation – Temi Zammit Hall

Jason Micallef put an emphasis on the fact that culture belongs to all. He advised therefore that one should not listen only to the academics, but also to the people in the streets. He then focused on a clear challenge Malta and Europe face, for only 50 kiometers from Malta away lies Libya now a failed state, engulfed in a war, and by extension linked to what threat the ISIS pose. One needs only to follow the news about ISIS forces destroying cultural heritage, to know that they do not value culture as part of human civilization in the same way as what Europe values. He wanted to be very clear that he does not wish to incite hatred or even violence but by naming this problem in public, he wants to speak clearly about what problems are in need to be faced.

Plenary Session 1: ‘A multi & intra disciplinary approach to Cultural Mapping’

Chair: Dr Nancy Duxbury

Rapporteur: Dr Marie Briguglio

Plenary Session 1: ‘A multi & intra disciplinary approach to Cultural Mapping’

Introduction by Chair: Dr Nancy Duxbury

He wishes to approach the question of cultural mapping out of a civil society perspective. It starts with the question but why do we work with culture for the sake of development in our context e.g. defined in Morocco by the Islam. To alter the situation, we need critique, human development and public space. The latter touches upon the role of women in public.

We need to work with these tools.

We need citizens.b

For this is needed a diagnosis, so as to be able to give shape to a cultural policy, but to bring about this, a change in mentality is needed as well.

To create such a tool as cultural mapping, five factors are taken into consideration:

There was adopted a SWAT analyses and 18 sectorial studies were undertaken. This was followed up by cross-section studies. The aim was to introduce culure into everyday life.

Cultural mapping as a tool is useful for presentation and promotion of the diversity of expressions which exist in following areas: Centre of Africa which includes Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. This area is at the cross road of many and diverse populations.

Basically three priorities have to be observed:

1) specific needs of citizens and consequently cultural policy has to be based on strong statements

2) through civil society promote and protect cultural expressions with a special focus on how to give access to culture for a dominant rural population. That requires a clarification of where to draw the cultural maps.

3) relate to the UNESCO Convention of 2005 (see Warwick discussion, 2015)

That means cultural maps can be used to clarify traditional expressions. A special effort was undertaken to make a cultural map of Tunisia with the aim to focus especially on the South of the country for the sake of promoting cultural tourism.

The cultural map for Morocco was first created by Racines, a NGO based in Casblanca.


Jeremy Azzopardi points out that V18 has undertaken cultural mapping in order to generate information on the cultural use and practices in diverse cultural spaces existing on the whole island. Special studies have been made of Msida and Siggiewi.

For more information, see: www.culturemapmalta.com

Her interest lies in mapping intangible heritage in France. Prime research is being done at the University of Lille 3. Most interesting is that she uses the links of websites of organisations to establish their outreach.

1045 Coffee break – Sacra Infermeria Hall

A main concern of the two is that citizen based data requires a special methodology for how to verify the data. Such an orientation means engagement of citizens. So how relevant is the policy agenda in view of the these two critical questions: verification of data and engagement of citizens.

Elizabeth Grech explained the work of the foundation: "The René Seydoux Foundation for the Mediterranean World seeks to promote cooperation and solidarity between Mediterranean countries. It supports or facilitates initiatives aiming to promote exchanges, friendship and cooperation between Mediterranean peoples in the social, cultural and scientific areas."

In this capactiy, the foundation has made a Mediterranean Directory which includes the most important organisations dedicated to the Euro-Mediterranean region.


Closing of plenary session by Chair

Lunch – Sacra Infermeria Hall


 Speed Networking

An opportunity to discuss with other speakers and researchers a number of issues not possible during the plenary sessions.


1430 Start of the parallel sessions

Parallel session 1 – Cultural mapping as a tool for artistic practitioners

Moderator: Dr Hatto Fischer   Rapporteur: Daniela Blagojevic Vella

Parallel session 2 – Cultural mapping as a tool for participation & networking

Moderator: Colin Borg  Rapporteur: Dr Ruben Paul Borg

Parallel session 3 – Preserving heritage through digital mapping

Moderator: Dr Will-Garrett Petts Rapporteur: Dr Jean Paul Baldacchino

Parallel session 4 – Mapping culture from multiple perspectives

Moderator: Dr. JosAnn Cutaja       Rapporteur: Prof. Carmel Borg


Evening  Formal Conference Dinner – Haywharf, Floriana



23rd October




Introduction by Dr Karsten Xuereb, Executive Director Valletta 2018 Foundation – Temi Zammit Hall

Address by Dr George Vella, Minister of Foreign Affairs (was cancelled)

Plenary Session 2: ‘The mapping legacy: what happens next?’

Chair: Caldon Mercieca Rapporteur – Dr Marie Briguglio

In his opening remarks made by not sitting behind the table, but up front and standing, so that he could see as well the slides he was presenting, Pier Luigo Sacco stressed that cultural mapping is not only about what is, but what does it mean for policy makers.

In that sense, it is important to take a closer look at culture driven local development and therefore how culture can make a difference.

With regards to European Capitals of Culture, they are novel ways of experimenting with different ways of development once driven by culture. Naturally it is not solely culture which is the driver but in most cases culture has proven to be a platform for co-ordinating diverse activities and actions.

Critical is the question whether or not culture is central or not to what drives development in the city. Here he shows on digital maps at a very sophisticated level that this may not be necessarily the case. Two reasons can be cited: crative cluster congregate only in certain areas of the city, while suburban and other neglected areas have no cultural services at all, and yet policy concerns apply to the whole of the city. All of this has multiple ramifications for cultural policy makers.


(Note: she could not be present but made via Skype her presenation, and this under extreme circumstances.)

Her focus when doing cultural mapping is the distinctiveness of a place, and which reflects how people grow up in a place to become citizens. Cities are eco-systems and growing communities. Several factors should be taken into consideration:




Economy                              Urban Cultural DNA                         People




Right now, the city is managed with only one trajkectory e.g. de-industrialisation. It means that the future of the city is introduced merely by one trajectory. Rather cultural mapping should entail the introductio of multiple trajectories. The experimental work is to let communities co-create a vision of the future. This is done by mapping as follows everything which can relate to the 'place':


                                         Landscape Location


cultural feel                                                                                urban texture

                                       tangible and intangible heritage


              topography                                                            external perception



local stakeholders                                                                      Spirit of place


Methodological factors:

- cultural ecology maps for improved networking

- mental maps so as to show perception, feelings, identity

- create image banks to allow for brain storming with the aim to find new solutions

- Mind maps: match assests / resources to needs, tackle challenges and creativity

The key question here is what can we do with the available resources?

Mapping is designing participatory mechanismen while one things should not be forgotten, namely the 'wisdom of the crowds'. To solicit this wisdom, it means entering an experimenting by linking different departments / categories.

Important is to introduce small scale (temporary initiatives delivered collaboratively) so as to encourage and support 'leadership from the ground'.

The aim should be to develop a collective capability so that the community can adapt to change, and therefore is able to challenge the status quo. This has to be done by accepting different ways of closing things.


MUŻA is the new national-community art museum project for Malta and one of the flagship projects for Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture.  The name MUŻA is an acronym for MUŻew Nazzjonali tal-Arti which is the Maltese name of the current National Museum of Fine Arts, established as section within the Malta Museum in 1924. MUŻA is also the Maltese word for inspiration. The methodology guiding the MUŻA project entails a transition from a traditional art museum to a contemporary collection made possible by community curating. As this requires a rethought of how to empower local communities, a new attention has to be given on identity formations. Through the museum related process an attempt shall be made to create a cohesive cultural space through the arts. The major shift concerns rethinking access to cultural heritage and creativity as a cultural right, and this beyond the traditional museum experience. Of interest is how this giving value to local communities shall guide the development of a multi-vocal narrative promoting access to uniqueness rather than exclusivity.


As philosophers connected with Cultura 21 linking artists to the question of sustainability and therefore to the ability to handle complexity, he re-members in his introductory words 'urban ecologies'. Consequently he would like to stresss that looking at cultural mapping is a way to express interest, insofar we are here because it matters. There is a need to deal with following issues:

Along those lines, he does not wish to talk as if in a crisis since that would b ut reflect a state of mind. Rather we are dealing with real waves so that we need data which allows us to anticipate the future in terms of sustainability, and therefore we need to creat technological solutions and relate to given conditions by implanting ourselves. It leaves culture in an interesting situation between waves and technology.

Consequently everything is about culture. We refer to culture when seeking to answer the question but how do we wish to live. That requires a necessary lever when it comes to how we interpret the worl. He likes the term 'theatre of things' since there exists the risk of holding onto illusions of doing something. Hence politics and culture are not so much in conflict with one another, but rather we seek to circumvent the hard political economic conditions by using culture as soft power. 

Mapping entails then the following:

For example, the city of Copenhagen had to secure itself against heavy rain falls, so the task became with many suggesting different solutions, how to bridge all these different approaches. When developing a model for that, one realizes that we have incurred a loss of ontology. However, it becomes a matter of how to create an entrepreneurial spirit.

The aim should be to regain the 'savoir faire' to enhance the following:

Important are agencies which are capable of inducing change from below, but everything has to be done very gentle.

He has started to work together with Valletta 2018 to enhance Design Clusters, for the re-invention of these creative clusters from below is a strong issue.


Reflecting his experiences made in conjunction with Liverpool '08, he wishes to speak about the relationship between city and citizens. For he wishes to pose the question, can culture change communities? In part, this is how to link strategies with what should be local deliveries, and how to use the ECoC title. In both cases, answers depend upon knowing how a city works.

Being a ECoC is entering a kind of cultural experiment. Three aims had Liverpool '08:

The social impact of having been a European Capital of Culture was strong, but it is very difficult to measure. Definitely the people where right from the start behind the bid. So there were adopted four goals: repositioning, re-generation, participation and sustainability. This was implemented by promoting 1) creative communities and 2) developing an extensive volunteer programme. 

To realize Creative Communities, it meant:

- need to identify key challenges the city had to face

- appoint Program Managers for following fields: health, youth, nieghborhood, crime, environment.

For instance, the project NOT OK was initiated and as a result the crime rate went down, presumably due to alterations in education.

Likewise, the project '4 Corners' managed to link each neighborhood to a cultural institution.

As for the 08 Volunteers programme, this was a huge success. There was developed a new model under the heading "get involved". Special attention was given to mapped out areas as being the most disadvantaged where then deliberate recruitment was done.

When reference is made to the legacy of a European Capital of Culture like Liverpool '08, it has to be said this is less strategic and much more an ideal assessment. Three aspects can be high lighted upon:

Consequently we focused on continuing some of the game changer actions e.g. the mechanical spider by re-creating something similar under the theme 'Sea Odyssey 2012'. By re-creating such a major event something should not be overlooked. For we went back to the disadvantaged aress to say to the people there that the Municipality of Liverpool has not forgotten you. In so doing we brought a lot of people together at a community backery which became a major focus point.

In reference to some other ECoCs in which he has been involved, he can refer to the following:

Kosice 2013 realized 7 projects in different districts whereby cultural mapping led to tailored solution. A specal focus was given to the youth. Overall former heating plants were transformed into cultural centres.

Riga 2014 drew up a road map with 6 artistic program lines whereby 58 districts were engaged. The artistic curators initiated 18 projects and organised 118 events. The evaluation of their special year reflects satisfaction with the road map undertaken, while it amounted to a strong recommendation to include culture in future urban development.

Pilsen 2015 has undertaken it to promote culture as if a guardian angel

San Sebastian 2016 faces some special challenges but seems to manage its preparation for next year when ECoC




Parallel Session 6 – Global and contested cultural spaces

Moderator: Daniela Blagojevic Vella  Rapporteur: Dr Hatto Fischer


Parallel Session 7 – Digital Mapping in a Social Context

Moderator: Prof. Carmel Borg  Rapporteur: Dr JosAnn Cutajar


Parallel Session 8 – Evaluating & assessing the use of cultural space

Moderator: Dr Ruben Paul Borg      Rapporteur: Colin Borg



          Kamila Kaminska and Karsten Xuereb


1530 Closing event – Sacra Infermeria Hall

Closing address by Dr Karsten Xuereb, Executive Director Valletta 2018 Foundation

Book launch – Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry (Edited by Nancy Duxbury, W.F Garrett-Petts and David MacLennan)


Evening Informal closing dinner – Ta’ Nenu, Valletta


Further Information about Conference Itself

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