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Keywords:

  • Europeanization;
  • cultural policy;
  • EU;
  • unity in diversity;
  • cosmopolitanism;
  • Capital of Culture

Abstract

This article examines the reception of European Union cultural policy through Avignon's experience as European Capital of Culture (ECOC) in 2000, focusing specifically on the EU objective of achieving “Unity in Diversity” through culture. Some recent studies argue that ECOC projects have served as media for conceptions of culture that are less essentialist and more centered on transformation and border-crossing than those promoted by national and regional cultural policies of the past. Assuming that one of the primary obstacles to overcoming social divisions in urban centers is the alienation of the residents of low-income, peripheral neighborhoods, this article focuses particular attention on a website created to promote Gypsy heritage. Consideration of this case underscores the uneasy balance struck between the goal of redefining cities as attractive to potential tourists and residents and the goal of overcoming the “democratic deficit” affecting disadvantaged urban populations. The case of Avignon highlights obstacles within cities to the broad diffusion and acceptance of more cosmopolitan models of European culture centered on dialogue and exchange.