The profession of inter-cultural mediator does not have a clear status, especially concerning mediation in the Mediterranean area. It is not officially recognized: neither in Italy nor France (with the exception of some cases of codified mediation, as that in law courts) nor Spain. There are several books addressing this issue; however, the ‘textbook’ par excellence or an ‘exhaustive book’ on the subject – if it could exist – is still missing.
The aim of this Master programme is thus to develop a professional profile which is flexible enough to adjust to the Mediterranean as a changing enviroment; a self-aware expert able to understand his/her place in such a complex scenario, and to manage the different situations. To this aim, it is necessary to widen our perspective to a number of relevant contexts, to compare them, and to learn from various experiences in the field of migration and cultural mediation. This is the rationale which has led to the development of the MIM programme, which is divided in three different “core” modules taking place in three different countries (Spain, France, Italy) and includes internship as well as complementary training periods across the Mediterranean.
The philosophy of this Master is then to create an observatory on the status of migration in Europe to analyze the countries where migrations originate.
We believe that cultural mediation is fundamental to guarantee a different, outer perspective on two confronting cultures.
The focus is placed both on countries of origin and on countries of arrival, without restricting our attention to a European perspective on migration. In fact, one of the main purposes of the program is to shift the debate on the countries of departure of migrants and to study the effects of different migratory waves to and from these same countries.
The MIM programme, from its very beginning, has been dealing with migration studies, and several roundtables and international conferences have been organized to discuss themes related to migration and cultural mediation. A first conference was held in Tours (when Tours was part of the original MIM pilot project presented to the EU in 1996). Its results have been published in a volume edited by Claude Tapia, and are available for consultation at Ca’ Foscari University. Other meetings and symposia followed, to compare different models of mediation. In May 2004 Montpellier hosted the first conference of the MIM master; the proceedings have been published as: Hocine Zeghbib (sous la direction de), Etre étranger en Europe du Sud, Edisud, Aix e-Provence, 2005. The second MIM conference took place in Venice (March 2005) and its proceedings have been published as: Emanuela Trevisan Semi (a cura di), Mediterraneo e Migrazioni Oggi, Il Ponte, Bologna, 2006. The three books are available for consultation at Ca’ Foscari University. In December 2009, the Seminar: International Communication, Development and Human rights in the Mediterranean was organized by the MIM and the OMEC in Barcelona at the Collegi de Periodistes de Catalunya. The proceedings are published as: Olga del Río (coordinating), Communication, Development and Human rights in the Mediterranean. Barcelona, Omec, 2010 (electronic publishing).
The cultural mediator is an actor neither belonging, nor adhering to the cultures involved in the mediation process. It is a third part external to it, and therefore more effective and successful in the practice of mediation. This is the essence of the role of cultural mediator, a person opening new communication spaces between different and contrasting cultures. The mediator should not allow to be manipulated or exploited. As Joseph Kasterstein (Director of the Institut supérieur des métiers de la formation, Paris) said during one of MIM roundtables: “the mediator is not an accomplice. It is necessary to be aware of diversity, to keep it into account without considering cultures in an essentialist way.”
Next to the study of the most commonly spoken languages in the Mediterranean area (Italian, French, Spanish, Arabic and Hebrew), the programme also offers the possibility to study the reality of the Southern shore of the Mediterranean from a social, political, economic, anthropological and cultural point of view. This more applied part of the curriculum is flanked by a theoretical approach to questions of mediation and of inter-cultural relationships. It relies upon social-psychological disciplines, which are well represented in the master’s syllabus. Another important aspect of the training is to confront the students with the direct practice of mediation, throught the contributions of specialists in the field. Consistently, all students are given the opportunity to experience the feeling of being “stranger”: the MIM course in four different countries, and mobility is acquired as an integral dimension of the programme. The modules – organized in Venice, Barcelona and Montpellier – are complemented by training periods in Sousse/Meknès/Strasbourg and by professional internships, in various Mediterranean countries.