Public Lecture Accentuates Imperative of Building Bridges of Solidarity among Greater South States

Addis Ababa University and the Organization of Southern Cooperation (OSC) co-hosted a Public lecture on “Greater South Cultures: Resisting Stereotypes and Folklorisation” by Abel Prieto Jiménez, President of Casa de Las Américas and Former Minister of Culture of Cuba.

The public lecture was held on OSC Day, which commemorates the coming into force of the statute of the Organization of Southern Cooperation. The event aimed to “…making known to the peoples of the world the aims and achievements of the Organization and to gaining their support for and their proactive involvement with the work” of the organization. The lecture marking the OSC Day 2024 further aimed to explore ways to help communities maintain control over their values, beliefs and cultural practices and to assure cultural self-determination and freedom from the threat of cultural disregard and neglect.

As it transpired during the course of the lecture and the subsequent sessions, the work of the Organization of Southern Cooperation is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which emphasizes the need for cultural integrity: “States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of and redress for a) any action, which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities (Art. 8:2a)”.

Despite statutory guarantees at the international level, the threat of deculturation facing communities continues to be a significant menace as it implies irreversible identity loss, resulting in considerable stress and psychopathology for community members affected.

Within the broader framework of cultural homogenization, the lecture shed light on folklorization as a hegemonic pressure culminating in alienation, fossilization, homogenization, commodification, and standardization of cultures and cultural practices. Commodification means that cultures in the Global South may be denatured, trivialized, sanitized, romanticized and commercially exploited. The reinforcement of stereotypes and perpetuation of misconceptions place southern states’ cultures at greater risk of integrity loss.

The lecture further delved into ways of forming a common front and collective resistance against cultural homogenization and identity loss which can impact Southern States communities through cultural mutilation and destruction. Mobilizing united cultural resistance and cultural self-preservation were considered strategies of importance in Greater South states to withstand the growing influence of technologies of cultural homogenization and the enticements of neoliberalism.

The OSC event was inaugurated by Professor Worash Getaneh, AAU Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer, who highlighted the flagship university’s desire to work in partnership with the Organization of Southern Cooperation to transform the education system in Ethiopia.