|glossary - Transversality|
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Taken from the theoretical frameworks of Gilles Deleuze/Félix Guattari and Michel Foucault, transversality describes the crossing of borders in a geographical and political sense as well as the boundaries of distinct fields or disciplines. With respect to its transversality the cultural field can be taken as exemplary when it comes to developing new realities and concepts in the time of EU enlargement and current economic and social developments.
Firstly, transversality as a concept leaves the national discourse behind. Multilateral transnational collaboration breaks the logic of bilateral cooperation and exchange, which still tends to dominate cultural action. It creates new structures of collaboration beyond existing links or hierarchies. Programming for culture in support of such new transnational networking practices, has to take into account that they are often much more complex, risky and expensive and thus require appropriate financial and administrative support.
Secondly, other than the notion of ‘interdisciplinarity’ that has become commonplace in the cultural field, transversality refers to transsectorial activities beyond a mere cooperation and combination of different disciplines in the arts, say theatre and the visual arts. Instead, new cooperation and networking practices between different fields such as education, politics, science and the cultural field that are normally kept separate are developed. At their interfaces they enable the opening up of new spaces of knowledge and practices.
Talking about the transversality of culture by no means implies focusing on the instrumental function that the cultural sector may have in various other fields, but explores the new aspects and practices, which are negotiated and produced by transgressing disciplinary borders. The transversal quality of the cultural field, as addressed in Clause 4 of Article 151, or as acknowledged in funding for culture from the Structural Funds should not be mistaken as a possibility for an instrumentalisation or mere justification of culture in these various contexts. Instead, the new forms of transversal organisation and networking, can function as models for other fields. Cultural policies mean dealing with a wider, transversal conception of culture.
Challenging limiting, one-dimensional or particularizing concepts, transversal practices do not represent particular, isolated (sub)cultures, but instead traverse many different situations within a patchwork of minorities. A multitude of transversal structures, the manifold forms of cultural initiatives, networks and organisations in Europe need to be supported, so that they do not yield to the pressures of homogenisation and particularization.