Intercultural Vademecum

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Project presentation

​The objective of this project is to highlight humankind’s intercultural solidarity, taking into account all available UNESCO’s documentation such as the General and Regional Histories.
The Intercultural Vademecum is a programme 
created within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in January 2008 between UNESCO and the Alliance of Civilizations. This pedagogical toolkit presents, in a straightforward and stimulating way, an intercultural vision of history bringing the Arab-Muslim and Western worlds together. Particular emphasis is laid on the need to recognize the intense interaction among 
all peoples in the Mediterranean Basin and the ties between them and cultures farther afi eld in India, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula and Africa.
It is composed of five projects:
– “A scientific, philosophical, literary and artistic anthology of Muslim/Arab civilization and its contribution to the revival of Western philosophy and culture”, in French, English, Arabic and Spanish;
– “A philosophical look at Muslim/Arab civilization: accounts of routes, encounters, bridges and dialogues”;
– “Illuminating interrelations and engaging dialogues: museums as a civic space for developing intercultural skills”;
– “Young artists for intercultural dialogue between the Arab and Western worlds”.
– “The Power of Peace Network: reporting for peace” (PPN).


​In Europe and Islam : fifteen centuries of history (Laurens, Tolan, Veinstein, 2009), the historian John Tolan explains that Christopher Columbus had ensured to take with his crew an Arabic-speaking person, because it was the language that “Indians” should certainly speak – since at the time, Arabic was used to be spoken as far as China. This means Arabic was considered to be the major international language for commerce, culture and science. Arabic had acquired this status within the European elites since the 12th century and would continue to hold it until the beginning of the 18th century. In a text that we can find in the present Vademecum, the historian of sciences Geroge Saliba, also indicates that European astronomers since the 16th and 17th century used to read Arabic manuscripts directly from the text and didn’t hesitate to annotate them directly in Arabic or even to correct the mistakes of the original text. The contribution of the Arab-Muslim civilization to the renewal of the European culture since the 11th century is, therefore, not only a question of translation of Greek texts in Arabic and then translated again in Latin; it’s more of a transmission of cultural models from one edge of the Mediterranean to the other, which doesn’t only include knowledge but also a language, and in a larger sense an intellectual disposition of a very large extent (Yves Winkin).

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