Aboozar Beheshti

Design takes revenge on what politics did with the cultures!

How to improve the experience of immigration to a multicultural society. Media, constructed reality and its impact on the experience of immigration to a multicultural society.

As Caleb Rosado argues, multiculturalism is “a system of beliefs and behaviours that recognizes and respects the presence of all diverse groups in an organization or society, acknowledges and values their socio-cultural differences, and encourages and enables their continued contribution within an inclusive cultural context which empowers all within the organization or society.” Canada has often been described by its government as a prime proponent of multicultural ideology, based in part on its public recognition of the importance of immigration. This is the case even as Quebec, a region with the autonomy to govern the members of its own society as it seems fit, claims differently.

While Canada at first glance seems a unique environment to support the ethos of multiculturalism—a country that might be considered as a living museum of nationalities, a variety of ethnicities and cultures—the covert racism and hidden ethnic discrimination in Canada, though minor, is actually a sign of a misunderstanding or failure in the goal of implementing that ideology. Instead, certain of its societal functions may be seen to disclose the highly charged political nature of this “museum,” whereas one of the pillars of a multicultural society ought to be devoted to neutralizing ethnic biases.

Through this research-creation project, by implementing designerly ways of research, my intention has been to examine and reflect on some of the potential roots and reasons for this failure in the execution of multicultural ideology in Canada, failures ranging from the inability to recognize the cultural difference, to problems in the education system, misreadings of cultural values of different nationalities and ethnicities, to the inability to gauge awareness amongst Canadian host communities about the various ethnicities that collectively comprise its population. Toward that end, as my first project, by turning a classic questionnaire into an experimental performance and installation, I tried to use allegorical ethnology to identify and contemplate the cultural value differences between ethnicities. This project was intended to simulate the experience of migration, with the added opportunity of enabling one’s individual selection of particular cultural values. In another experiment, I tried to explore the assumptions and information generated by the host community through an experiment that questioned the underlying knowledge base of Canada as a multinational community, using Iran and Iranian society as a case study.

The epistemological aspect of this research was not meant to be accusatory. However, the role of politics in polluting the experience of being in a multicultural society, by propagating political assumptions and exacerbating the struggles between powers, cannot be denied. Indeed, the coercion of political power that is enabled by the media sacrifices culture first of all. The attendant situation is one which has been marred by prejudice and one where cultural sensitivity has been substantially diminished. This third project aims, therefore, also to disclose the role of politics in manipulating reality by controlling the media, but, in this case, the intent is to give the power, instead, to the cultures that have been marginalized. In this way, the design is able to take revenge on what politics afflicted on these cultural communities!