Spanish Language and Culture - Elcano Royal Institute empty_context Copyright (c), 2002-2018 Fundación Real Instituto Elcano Lotus Web Content Management <![CDATA[ Converging western cultural policy debates ]]> 2019-08-07T11:00:44Z

The last decades of the 20th century saw the emergence of culture as a scientific domain, as a public-policy issue and even as a range of professional profiles.

‘There was a need for broad expanses and long ages’ (borrowing a verse from the poet Ángel González’s Para que yo me llame Ángel González) for culture to become a central issue in the social sciences and in public policies. The last decades of the 20th century saw the emergence of culture as a scientific domain, as a public-policy issue and even as a range of professional profiles, stretching from a restricted conception of culture as the domain of the arts to the assumption that culture is everywhere, from the limited vision of culture as material to a broad understanding of culture as both material and immaterial, from an idea of better and worse cultures and the imposition on others in terms of supremacy to the protection and promotion of diversity, and from culture conceived as heritage to culture assumed to be permanently changing –the Foucault territory of the struggle to define power in societies–.1

As contemporary societies progressed in the acquisition of social rights, leisure time became a fact of life, particularly in urban environments, and was accompanied by the state’s growing consciousness about the importance of guaranteeing equal access to cultural resources. Two paradigms then emerged: one in the US, assuming a secondary role for the state and promoting both the market and the patronage of cultural institutions; and the other in Europe, stimulating both the market and excellence in cultural production, assigning the state the central responsibility of shaping a national culture to reinforce national identity, almost like a secular ‘cultural religion’.

“As the cultural market evolved in the second half of the 20th century, the idea of culture as the result of a brilliant creation had to coexist with a culture produced for rapid consumption”.

As the cultural market evolved in the second half of the 20th century, the idea of culture as the result of a brilliant creation had to coexist with a culture produced for rapid consumption, not necessarily marked by excellence but by market expectations and its accessibility to the many. Music records, cheap books, films and television showed not only the ability of culture to become a significant economic sector (as book publishing and the press had in previous decades) but also its impact on national public opinion, helping to establish common references, a shared mythology and a collective ‘imaginary’. An excessive foreign cultural presence could annihilate these objectives and cultural policies became the subject of a ‘cultural exception’, while the international markets were progressively opened to bilateral and multilateral agreements. A strong cultural policy to resist the new world-market paradigm became important.

Industrial culture was, at the time, identified as the only way to offer a functional leisure for mass societies, combining the political and economic goals of nation states. The emergence of postmodern thought also contributed to emancipating this new ‘popular culture’ from marginality to the social recognition of the value of its production and consumption as valuable democratic practices.

During this first stage, then: (a) urbanisation, a rising standard of living and the acquisition of social rights led to the appearance of a significant time for leisure; (b) culture became a recognisable economic and industrial player; (c) cultural policies became not only accepted but protected from the deregulation of markets during the 80s and 90s (what is known as the ‘cultural exception’); and (d) elitist views about the superiority of ‘high culture’ were displaced in favour of a more democratic and postmodern view of ‘popular culture’.

As a result, cultural policies tended to evolve towards a more active field, with more and more institutions progressively mixing arts, cultural and media assets, and taking into consideration their economic impact. As the French Minister Jack Lang famously said in 1981, ‘economy and culture are part of the same fight’.

“The emergence of the ‘creative industries’ mantra comes from a variety of contextual situations that have brought about the desperate search for a new growth paradigm in what are exhausted post-industrial economies”.

The emergence of the ‘creative industries’ mantra comes from a variety of contextual situations that have brought about the desperate search for a new growth paradigm in what are exhausted post-industrial economies. At the end of the 90s the rapidly evolving technological landscape offered the promise of ‘new niches’ of employment creation in the US and the EU. The ‘information superhighway’ initiative of Vice-President Al Gore in the US and the Bangemann report in the EU were not only strategies for developing telecommunications networks but also pointed to the core question: that the services flowing from these new infrastructures, the jobs created and the re-emergence of the economy would find in the interconnected cyberspace the promised land of recovery.

At the same time, the digital revolution is also providing a plethora of new forms of symbolic expressions generated by the digital ecosystem and barely conceivable under the traditional conditions of cultural production. From videogames to digital arts, from software to new Internet platforms, culture was at the doorstep of an enormous change, difficult to frame under the traditional coordinates of culture, many steps ahead of the old struggle between high and popular cultures and hard to fit into the traditional schemas of cultural training, cultural consumption or cultural regulation. This new territory quickly emerged from the interaction of three isolated fields: telecommunications, computer science and culture, quickly identified as the ‘convergence’.

The diversification of cultural work, access, production and consumption derived from post-industrial technological changes is behind this promising creative shift, which is both attractive and, at the same time, contradictory. First, because the undefined territory of creativity makes the definition of public policies initially very difficult in this field. When 20 years ago what was spoken about was basically ‘cultural industries’ (remembering Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s old oxymoron), later the talk focused on a content economy, a creative sector, a creative economy, a creative class, an ICT (information, communication and technology) economy, copyright industries and an ‘orange’ economy. In all cases, the primary extension of the cultural field derived from the idea of creativity, but not only. When thinking about industrial design, architecture or fashion, it is very clear that there has been a radical change: the massification of the goods market makes the differentiation a key issue and the ability to produce and connect to cultural and immaterial values becomes a strategic asset. There are objects, or beautiful objects; mere juice squeezers, or artistic marvels designed by the Italian studio of Carlo Alessi; plain motorbikes or vintage Vespas; phones or iPhones. The ‘design’ and ‘branding’ (as a process essential to global capitalism) are immaterial elements that are key to understanding both a product’s price and its ‘exchange value’.

The squeezer, the bike, the phone: the element they have in common is that cultural and creative factors are a vital part of their conception, and it is those elements that make the difference. Especially in price terms. But they are also elements of what Pierre Bourdieu, writing about cultural consumption, termed ‘distinction’. Cultural inputs take up a different place in the chain. Traditional cultural industries produced cultural goods, and those goods were different from one another, reusable copies of the original, with an uncertain demand and immaterial, based on symbols (and subsequently easily digitalised).

“The new creative industries produce goods (and services) that are not necessarily ‘cultural’, but that also use culture as an element of differentiation, of added value, placing the process of conception at the centre”.

However, the new creative industries produce goods (and services) that are not necessarily ‘cultural’, but that also use culture as an element of differentiation, of added value, placing the process of conception at the centre. Of course, we know from decades of cultural studies that norms of taste are social and then built up by varying conditions and actors in the struggle to define reality, in the struggle for power. Thus, the point at which culture can make things ‘cool’ (beautiful or ugly) is socially defined, but now in global terms, fighting for visibility in the clutter generated by millions of messages. The interaction between the traditional cultural industries (producing powerful symbolic messages and telling us ‘what is cool’ or, as Zizek would say, ‘what to desire’) and creativity is absolutely central. Think about leisure parks or Disneylands: they are a key sector in the new creative economy for the biggest media groups but their content is basically provided by the direct life experience of cultural discourses producing its core value.

And, also very importantly, if the key economic asset for this new field is the conception of ideas, the main territory for the new creative economy is the protection of these self-same ideas, blurring the limits between cultural copyright and industrial intellectual property. Copyright –not only industrial patents– becomes an essential issue in any international commerce agreement, as creativity becomes the centre of the new economies.

But what, in fact, is a creative industry? Is it automotive, fashion or tourism? At the base of this conceptual structure there are two main approaches. The US perspective focuses on the emergence of a ‘creative class’ (as described by Richard Florida) made up of scientists, consultancy and organisational specialists, lawyers and, of course, cultural workers. The European perspective offers a much clearer concept of the creative industries, broadening the traditional ‘cultural industries’ to embody the new fields of activity generated by technological changes, but not affecting traditional cultural sectors.

Are both the same thing? It is difficult to say, because national plans for cultural and creative industries sometimes point to highly diverse sectors, including tourism, toys, jewellery, musical instruments, software and fashion. And, in some cases, the political departments in charge of cultural and creative industries share the field with areas such as sport and gambling. This shows how the revision of cultural policies from an economic paradigm could evolve to embody highly diverse leisure activities.

Such a miscellaneous approach has made many of us fear the turn in creativity by considering it a techno-fascinating strategy that voids the traditional field of cultural policy, forcing it to make a hard transition to complete liberalisation. In fact, the essential origin of the international expansion of the ‘creative economy’ concept comes from a liberal turn in cultural policies in the 1990s and in the UK.

The exhaustive deregulation introduced in the UK by Margaret Thatcher after 1979 in many areas of public life redefined the role of Britain’s cultural policy, ending the tradition of the ‘gradual expansion of the state’s role in culture’. The centrality of the economic paradigm during the 80s deepened even further when Labour took it on board in the creation of cultural clusters or cultural quarters, such as the Greater London Council initiative, and later in the replication of Australia’s ‘Creative Nation’ perspective in the ‘Create the Future’ manifesto (1997). Combined with the nation-branding motto ‘Cool Britannia’, the creative turn in cultural policy placed the UK at the vanguard of the new international paradigm on creative industries, transforming the perspective of the ‘expediency of culture as a resource’, positing culture as an instrument with solutions for social, political or economic problems (as explained by George Yúdice).

The creative economy paradigm in cultural policy has both succeeded internationally and received intense criticism, as the creative turn became more decisively ‘a self-sustaining, self-referential framework of ideas [that] has developed that has become largely impervious to critique’ (as Philip Schlesinger wrote). Still, most of the countries around the world began their own ‘creative economy’ programmes, changed the name of their respective departments to ‘cultural and creative’ and stimulated these new activity sectors in the British way.

Let me, then, summarise the ‘creative turn’ in cultural policies as follows: (a) the consequence of the impact of technological change in many fields of production, and particularly in the diversification of the cultural field itself; (b) the power struggles to define ‘cool’ and associate it to the products and services of the creative economy exploiting synergies between cultural and creative sectors; (c) the centrality of copyright, since in many cases creative industries are called ‘copyright-related industries’; and (d) the centrality of economic issues, creating the danger of ‘culture as a resource’ for creating jobs and making the economy grow.

“While culture became a powerful economic sector, while it diversified and filled leisure time in a variety of ways, most countries discovered that the global circulation of culture directly and strongly affected their image”.

There is, still, a third shift in cultural policies, the most recent and influential of all, because it affects the geopolitics of culture. It is what is usually known as ‘soft power’. While culture became a powerful economic sector, while it diversified and filled leisure time in a variety of ways, most countries discovered that the global circulation of culture directly and strongly affected their image. The US reinforced its cultural industries as the key instrument for ‘winning hearts and minds’ and then, without an explicit cultural policy, gained an immense and positive result in terms of influence by projecting its entertainment to the world, with Disney, Fox and Time Warner obtaining huge economic revenues.

As the world becomes a more interconnected place, culture becomes not only a national policy asset but a crucial resource for world influence. As a result, cultural policies are now becoming not only the field of national objectives such as promoting identity or stimulating job creation but also a domain of synergies between the national and the foreign level to promote a form of power different to the traditional ‘hard’ form of armies and economics. ‘Soft power’, as Joseph Nye calls it, or rayonnement using the French term, is essentially a new domain for cultural policies that had traditionally neglected the foreign aspect. The idea of an overcrowded global sphere has made new forms of promotion appear in cities or territories, marketing themselves as products to attract visitors, investments or consumers. Nation branding or city branding are, in fact, some of the most visible manifestations of the ‘soft power’ turn in cultural policies. Inheriting the logic of traditional cultural policies, soft-power tools include public culture; inheriting the logic of the creative turn, foreign markets are perceived as key areas to expand and develop national structures of cultural and creative production, promoting economic and political goals at the same time.

We are, thus, stepping onto new ground: a communication ground, because national projection is basically an exercise of marketing and communication targeting foreign audiences; but also a cultural ground, because it shapes the traditional fields of cultural policies (and others, of course), now expanded from the national to the foreign level. And it is, finally, a field of foreign policy.

The synergies produced by the ‘access and excellence’ logic of traditional cultural policies, the ‘growth, innovation and diversification’ of the creative turn, and the ‘influence and soft power’ of the foreign dimension of cultural policies are the key to understand the metamorphosis of the cultural field, and should be taken into account by any review of public policies in this context.

Ángel Badillo Matos
Senior Analyst at the Elcano Royal Institute and Professor at the School of Social Sciences of the University of Salamanca
| @angelbadillo

1 This analysis was presented as a keynote speech at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University in Hangzhou (China) in December 2018.

<![CDATA[ Towers and walls against multiculturalism: Hispanics and Spanish in the Trump Presidency ]]> 2018-01-26T12:22:22Z

The election of Donald Trump has generated new tensions around the public use of Spanish in the US and, above all, over multiculturalism.

Original version in Spanish: Torres y muros frente al multiculturalismo: hispanos y español en la presidencia de Donald Trump


The election of Donald Trump has generated new tensions around the public use of Spanish in the US and, above all, over multiculturalism.


The arrival of Donald Trump to the White House has generated new tensions around the public use of Spanish in the US, but also over multiculturalism as a paradigm for public policies in the country. Spanish has been used by President Trump to visualise the supposed risks posed by a language and a community –Spanish and Hispanics– for whom cultural assimilation does not appear, for diverse reasons, to be as profound as among other language communities. This analysis reviews the delicate relationship between Hispanics, Spanish, the rise of ‘paleoconservatism’ and Donald Trump during the last 12 months, beginning with his oath of office as the 45th US President.


‘Does not the irrational have as much value as the rational?’
(Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi, 1896)

Twelve months still seems to have been an insufficient period of time for the large part of US society (and the international community) to assimilate the electoral victory of the Republican Party candidate, Donald Trump. In 2016, Trump stepped into a profoundly fractured political and social scenario in which the GOP had been suffering from tensions generated by the rise of populism within its own ranks ever since the choice of the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as the Vice-Presidential candidate of John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. In the weeks preceding that election, the subprime loan and banking crisis, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the bank bailout1 undertaken by George W. Bush and the victory of Obama all reinforced the most radical sectors of the party, rapidly organised around the so-called ‘Tea Party’.

The Republican discontent provoked by the bank rescue package –which many interpreted as a betrayal of free market principles and an act of capitulation by Bush, McCain and Obama to the economic establishment and to state interventionism– together with the policies of Obama and the effect of the ongoing US economic transformation, have progressively nurtured ultra-nationalist movements within the Republican political space that have further consolidated the change in political cycle marked by the 2016 presidential elections. In 2008 the renovator of US conservative thought, the philosophy and political scientist, Paul E. Gottfried baptised the movement the ‘alternative Right’ (also known as the ‘alt-right’). His revision of conservative thought captures well certain key elements of Trump’s agenda, both expressed during the campaign and witnessed during his first months in the oval office: nationalism, strongly anti-statist and anti-establishment liberalism, and rebellion against multiculturalism2 and anti-feminism. Gottfried clearly identifies the adversaries:

‘In Western Europe and North America, this state3 rests its power upon a multitiered following: an underclass and now middle-class welfariate, a self-assertive public sector, and a vanguard of media and journalistic public defenders. Upon the basis of this following, the regime and its apologists have been able to marginalize their opposition’.4

If the last two decades have been characterized by the neoconservative hegemony of the Republican Party, this new period appears to be dominated by so-called ‘paleoconservativism’, which distances itself from the US liberal tradition of the founding fathers:

‘The fundamental difference between neoconservatism and paleoconservatism is this: neoconservatives belong to the tradition of liberal-democratic modernity, the tradition of Montesquieu, Madison, and Tocqueville; paleoconservatives are the heirs to the Christian and aristocratic Middle Ages, to Augustine, Aquinas, and Hooker. The principles of neoconservatism are individual liberty, self-government, and equality of opportunity; those of paleoconservatism are religious –particularly Christian– belief, hierarchy, and prescription’. 5

Many organisations have been involved in this process of ideological rearming, both in the academic-university arena and among the political and social organisations of civil society. Some of them are very close to the extreme right, hold white supremacist views and have been implicated in episodes of violence and radical exaltation, including cries of ‘Heil Trump’ that saluted the Republican victory at an event of the National Policy Institute of Richard Spencer.6 These social and political movements of the ultra-right found a liberal populist icon in Donald Trump, capable of defying the Republican Party establishment and the rest of the dominant actors on the national and international scene.

The Trump Tower: a ‘truthful hyperbole’

Trump, as President, is not the same person that the average American had witnessed rise with time, and then collapse, only to come back and rise again: the man who avoided New York traffic jams by taking a helicopter and battled through his divorces in public. Now that he is in politics, Americans have a champion of the middle class committed to bringing justice upon the Washington establishment.

Despite the omnipresence of US popular culture, the world only became aware of Trump during the election campaigns –the Republican primaries and the presidential election– in 2016. For the average American, however, Trump has for many years now formed part of the viscous electronic flow of television programmes and the ink waves of the popular press of the last four decades, when the ‘star system’ exported by the US cultural industry only included movie and television actors and actresses. Today, however, the Kardashian family and the employees of a Las Vegas pawnshop, for example, have become a central part of the television imagination of everyone. The ‘spectacle-isation of the quotidian’ has made ‘reality shows’ the primary content of hundreds of channels. But back in the 1980s and 1990s, the US social ‘star system’ had not yet embraced the ‘reality show’ that already served as part of the domestic diet on television and in local tabloids like the New York Post and the Daily News.

On the front pages of the daily papers stacked in front of subway cars and buses, Trump constructed his public persona as a man of success who adorned the Olympic heights of the city: his real-estate projects and his gambling tables at the Taj Mahal7 in Atlantic City, his divorces and weddings, his betrayals and victories, his bankruptcies and his constant resurrections were all minutely dissected in the society columns of the popular New York daily papers. As he said in 1987, ‘I don’t mind controversy, and my deals tend to be somewhat ambitious. Also, I achieved a lot when I was very young, and I chose to live in a certain style. The result is that the press has always wanted to write about me’.8 The construction of Trump Tower in Manhattan (1979-83) symbolically confirmed his position within the super-rich of the Big Apple and the triumph of the American myth of the self-made man –even if this grandson of German immigrants and son of a Scottish immigrant had a privileged upbringing and life, supported by the economic success of the real estate businesses of his father, Fred Trump–. But the Trump Tower is above all the metaphor for his famous notion of ‘truthful hyperbole’, the foundation of his communications strategy: ‘an innocent form of exaggeration – and a very effective form of promotion’.9 Since then, skyscrapers with his name –plastered across their façades– have served as symbols of his business success in Chicago, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Washing, Sunny Isles, White Plains, Istanbul, Pune, Kolkata, Vancouver and Panama; and others in Punta del Este, Mumbai and Manila are about to be completed.

Figure 1. Trump on the front pages of the popular daily press in the 1990s

His frequent appearances on television (in series and movies, on his own ‘reality show,’ The Apprentice, and in the commercial advertisements of McDonalds, Nike, PizzaHut and Visa) have been the key that has allowed him to maintain a long-running presence in US popular culture. He has been very conscious of the fact that the central element of his business brand is nothing other than himself, wrapped in his trademark suit (of which he produced a collection for the department store Macy’s). This is the way in which the myths of popular culture are created, by divulging and sharing the ups and downs of a figure’s public and private life. ‘Good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better’.10 More than anything, controversy guarantees media coverage. A study by MediaQuant, a consultancy, valued Trump’s media presence during the campaign at US$5 billion.11 The 14 seasons of The Apprentice,12 and the permanent coverage of Trump’s activities on the talk shows and in the social reporting of NBC, created a mass of spectator-voters and a weekly stage on which Trump constructed his public persona of success, leadership and firmness. Trump as President appears to project this conception of personal leadership in all its dimensions –l’état c’est Trump– as Roger Cohen brilliantly summarised in the New York Times.

The ‘Divided States’ of America: ‘nobody builds walls better than me’

In the face of (1) the financial crisis of 2007-08, (2) intensifying deregulation, (3) deepening globalisation of economic flows and processes and (4) digitalisation and automatisation, the middle and lower-middle classes have weathered unprecedented years of economic weakness and vulnerability, enduring an unemployment rate13 which reached 10% in October 2009 –a level last surpassed in the recession of the early 1980s (1982-83)–. In this context, immigration easily became the target of President Trump’s ire, and he projected upon on it the fears of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

The social, political and economic conditions of the US continue to exert a strong attraction on people from all over the world. This is also the result of the country’s permanent effort to project an idyllic image of itself through its instruments of soft power. Data from the Office of Migrations show how in recent years the admission of legal immigrants has been intense, comparable only –historically– to the period 1910-20: between 2005 and 2016 at least a million legal immigrants came to the country each year.14 Today foreigners make up 13.5% of the total US population –a relative weight similar15 to that of the decade of the 1920s– although, at 43.7 million, the absolute size of this population group is the highest in the country’s history. To these should be added undocumented immigrants, some 11 million according to an estimate by the Migration Policy Institute, half (56%) from Mexico16 and 80% from Latin America.

Figure 2. Evolution of majority origin of immigrants in the US by state
Figure 2. Evolution of majority origin of immigrants in the US by state

The overlap of this intense inflow of foreigners in the last decade with the economic crisis that generated the highest unemployment rate since the 1980s produced a scenario in which the populist and polarising discourse of Donald Trump has rapidly and easily caught fire. Excluded from the political processes –although a key factor in the economy– immigrants are vulnerable and easy targets for this kind of electoral message. Of the 43.7 million foreigners residing in the US and registered by the Census Bureau in 2015, 51% came from Latin America and of these 27% were from Mexico.17 To place the focus upon Spanish is, in fact, to put it on Hispanics, the most identifiable stereotype of the immigrant population for the average US citizen.

The President’s list of complaints with Hispanics goes a long way back, but here we limit the discussion to the past two years. On 16 June 2015, surrounded by the marble and gold of his New York castle, Trump announced his presidential campaign and devoted the central part of his message to Mexican immigration:

‘When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people… And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.’18

In the collective US memory, these words evoked the marielitos from Cuba in 1980, and fed the line of his claim, in 2013, that the rise in crime in the US was due to blacks and Hispanics.19 Perhaps because of this, at this very same event, Trump announced the construction of a great wall (‘and nobody builds walls better than me’, he said) along the southern border, ‘and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words’.20 Hispanic immigration has become for Trump a symbol of the ‘un-American’, of the foreign, the ‘bad’ coming from abroad that his presidency has pledged to eradicate, so as to return to a better past, giving the English language the status of the central symbol of (a particular) national identity.

Spanish is foreign, strange, spoken by the ‘other’. At a campaign event in Keene (New Hampshire), Trump accused Marco Rubio of wanting to open the borders: ‘(He m)ade a speech not so long ago, in Spanish, saying he wants to open up the borders essentially. He didn’t want you people hearing it, so he made the speech in Spanish. That’s true’.21 In the 19th century Tocqueville pointed to linguistic unity as one of the keys to the success of the US,22 but much has changed since then; as Hernández Nieto emphasises, the US faces a collective problem in that 8% of its population –and 18.9% in California– ‘does not understand the majority language of the country and the language of the public administration, or can only maintain very basic communication in it’.23 For Trump, the division in the US is not political or economic: it is over identity, and the perceived loss of English is an alarm signal. This division is the fruit of erroneous past actions, not of the political action of Trump himself, even if it appears to serve the goal of polarisation, the central axis of his political communications strategy.

Raising an administrative wall: ‘speak English, not Spanish!’

Although the US Constitution recognises no official language,24 attempts to make English official go back to 1923. Since 1981 different members of the Republican Party have led a total of six initiatives that, even if they have not been successful at the federal level, have been well-received in many states, thanks to organizations like US English25 and an intense lobbying effort. This movement, known as English Only –or, more precisely, English Official, because in many cases it does not advocate the prohibition of other languages, rather a predominant status for English– has spread across the country26 and has managed to get most of the states to approve laws making English the official language. By the late 20th century, five states had made English their official language (in Massachusetts the law was declared unconstitutional). During the last 20 years of the last century, with the rise of the English Only movement, 20 states approved such legislation. A more recent wave in which eight more states have passed related laws both presages and reflects linguistic and migratory tensions in many regions.27

In 2017, 32 states had some kind of legislation on the official nature of English.28 In most cases, these laws are symbolic declarations. Although they are of some political importance, because of the characteristic checks and balances of the US political system their practical impact on electoral, labour, tax or health law is very limited.29

Figure 3. Passage of legislation making English the official language

(Click to enlarge)

As could be expected, there is a direct relationship between these legislative initiatives and the size of the immigrant population, but a recent study identified a key legislative detonator: ‘When immigration receives of a lot of media coverage, the visibility of the issue seems to push the states… to respond with legislation making English the official language’. In defiance of the so-called ‘melting pot’ (in which the languages of immigrants are diluted over the decades), Spanish seems to resist as a result of the intense Hispanic immigration of the 1990s and the economic value that, for private companies, the Spanish language now represents in the form of a tool for accessing 50 million US Hispanics and their market power. Another case altogether is the political situation in the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico. The Republican Rick Santorum –later a rival of Trump in the Republican primaries– said before the Puerto Rican referendum of 2012 that if the island wanted to become a state it should have English as its principal language30 (the Constitution of 1952 only requires members of the Legislative Assembly to know either English or Spanish).31

This mono-multilinguistic cultural tension in an increasingly diverse US society is not, therefore, anything new. It reveals, rather, the permanent balances and readjustments that the US system maintains between the federal and state political levels, and it underlines the complexity of a country comprising 50 states, each with their own constitutions and laws, and with historical and social realities that are more diverse than often appear. The current international context in cultural policy favours a position that is respectful of multiculturalism, and this is recognised by the central driver of UNESCO since 2005, the ‘Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions’. On the other hand, the US continues not to subscribe to the agreement and, what is more, a few years ago it announced its decision to abandon UNESCO once again in response to decisions taken by the organisation concerning world patrimony that went against the criteria of Israel. This US move is not only a form of support for Israel –or just a new rejection of multilateral instruments in international affairs– but also a declaration of rejection of the multicultural paradigm that has defined the activity of UNESCO for more than a decade.

The Trump presidency has taken on this line, defending the cultural assimilation32 of non-Anglophone cultures and looking askance at the use of Spanish. During the Republican primary campaign, he derided his rival Jeb Bush for speaking in Spanish at his campaign events: ‘He should set an example and speak English in the United States’.33 And on his Twitter account he posted: ‘Jeb Bush is crazy, who cares if he speaks Mexican, this is America, English!’.34 Even more clarifying were his words at a primary debate on 16 September 2015 in the Ronald Reagan Library in California:

‘We have a country, where, to assimilate, you have to speak English… We have to have assimilation – to have a country, we have to have assimilation. I’m not the first one to say this... We’ve had many people over the years, for many, many years, saying the same thing. This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.’ (applause).35

This legitimisation of the public rejection of the use of Spanish –indeed, of any language other than English– has produced a multitude of small incidents of xenophobic social violence, like those reported by the website of the NGO ProPublica. These have included reproaches of Latinos for speaking Spanish on the street or in schools, increasingly habitual insults –often using the derogatory term ‘spic’–36 and political cries used as a form of aggression, as in the case of the white fans at a high school sporting event who shouted ‘Trump, Trump, Trump!’ at the players of the opposing team, made up mainly of Latinos and Afro-Americans. As The New York Times tragically concluded, the name of the president had been transformed into a racial jeer.37

The communicational wall: ‘the page you’re looking for can’t be found’

Just as the degradation of the Hispanic was present from the first moments of Trump’s announcement as a presidential candidate, and just as the border wall formed part of his campaign, the ‘communicational wall’ began a few hours after taking the oath of office. On 23 January, the White House eliminated the Spanish version of its website –just as it also removed information concerning climate change and LGTBI collectives–. It was replaced with the message, in English: ‘The page you’re looking for can’t be found’. Despite statements of the White House Press Secretary claiming the same day that it was only a temporary adjustment of website content, a year later the White House page in Spanish continues to show the same message of non-existent content. Curiously, a group of volunteers has begun to work on a translation of the page, which will be available at

Figure 4. The White House webpage in Spanish

Trump’s favourite communications tool continues to be the social network Twitter, which he uses as a permanent mechanism for bypassing the media. Trump’s Twitter account @realDonaldTrump has more than 46 million followers and is among the top 20 most followed accounts in the world.38 The account in Spanish of the presidency on Twitter,39 @LaCasaBlanca, was not shut down after the oath of office, but during the first year it posted only 184 messages, with a follower rate per tweet of a bare 21,000. These figures cannot compare with those of the account in English, @WhiteHouse, which during the same period posted 2,800 messages with a rate of 1.3 million followers per tweet. Many of the tweets from the account @LaCasaBlanca were posted in English, and many others contained spelling errors or were poorly translated from other messages in English.

The same position has been taken with respect to the communications media. He has accused Hispanic –and what he calls ‘progressive’– media outlets of being the tools of the traditional political elite. Trump’s public communications representatives have tried to demonstrate that, in the face of the media’s agenda, there exists a different perspective on events which the President’s advisor, Kellyanne Conway, called ‘alternative facts’.40 The political polarisation of the country has in recent years led to a ‘polarised pluralism’ in the media,41 with Fox New (the news network of the 21st Century Fox corporation, and now in the process of being sold to Disney),42 various Internet sites and the always-politicised talk radio shows43 as the principal defenders of Trump’s discourse, range against the rest of the television stations that maintain a critical position towards the Trump presidency. The media reference for the Hispanic community, Univision, has frequently been the object of Trump’s ire, going back to before the campaign.44 The most visible confrontation was between the journalist Jorge Ramos and Trump during a press conference in Iowa on 25 August 2015, when Trump asked the security team to remove the Univision journalist from the room,45 telling him to ‘Go back to Univision’.


Towers and walls against multiculturalism

Trump’s public discourse has constantly utilised immigration, Hispanics and Spanish to simplify the causes of the middle-class economic crisis and to attract the votes of the discontented. Despite this, the polls showed considerable support among Latino voters, and the exit surveys revealed that Hispanics voted for Trump to the same degree46 (28%) as they did for the previous Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, in 2012. Nevertheless, these surveys were not designed methodologically for researching such specific population cohorts. In light of studies published in recent months, it appears that Trump’s Latino vote has been overestimated.47

And, despite everything, many Latinos voted for him. As explained in many previous analyses, the US Hispanic community is much more complex than is typically assumed. The decline in immigration means that more Mexicans are leaving the US than are entering,48 the generations most removed from the family migration process slowly lose Spanish (more than 26% of Hispanics no longer speak it at home)49 and a large majority of Hispanics no longer believe it is necessary to speak Spanish to be Hispanic (71%).50 The US Hispanic community is changing –not necessarily towards assimilation– and this transformation complicates any analysis of Hispanic support for Trump (minority, in any case) based on the traditional stereotypes.

It is difficult to make future projections, but some reactions suggest that the battle between multiculturalism and paleoconservatism will be a long one. As pointed out in the last report of the US Observatory of the Cervantes Institute, the same day Donald Trump won the elections, Californians voted in a referendum (73.52%) to restore bilingual education, and just a few weeks ago Massachusetts did so as well.51 At the same time, the ‘Seal of Biliteracy’ –a certificate awarded to students demonstrating knowledge of two or more languages by the end of secondary school–52 has been adopted in many states (29 plus Washington DC), and general data on the teaching of Spanish reveals that it as the most studied language in the US at all levels.53 In any case, Trump’s distance from Spanish and the Hispanic community is clear. The President is determined to build walls against illegal immigration, against cultural diversity (which for him threatens the greatness of the US), against the political and economic establishment that he feels ignores the interests of the middle class. Such walls continue to attract paleoconservative thought now emerging in many sectors of the country. But such walls are also contributing to even deeper divisions –ideological, ethnic and economic– in US society.

The hyperbole and the bravado that Trump confessed in 1987 to be the essence of his public communications strategy does not appear to be the best way to conduct politics (domestic or international). Most observers still perceive more bravado and hyperbole at the end of Trump’s first year than any effective threats: ‘Don’t read too much into it’, as the members of his own government recommend to people, for example, with respect to his threats to North Korea.54 But the effects of Trump’s actions are real –and could end up out of control–. The total personalisation of government and the identity between Trump and the nation –which Lakoff identifies as the key metaphor of this period–55 should give us plenty of reasons for worry, as the President appears more interested in his own immediate success –in always being seen as victorious in every moment– than he is in taking other mid- and long-term decisions with objectives other that just reinforcing (supposedly lost) US hegemony. In his classes in 1975, the French sociologist Michel Foucault introduced a concept that combined wretchedness, the ridiculous and the majesty of power (maiestas) into a sense of the ‘ludicrous’, the grotesque portrait of power imagined by Alfred Jarry in 1896 in Ubu Roi. No other adjective could summarise better, or with less astonishment, the past 12 months.

Ángel Badillo Matos
Senior Analyst, Real Instituto Elcano
| @angelbadillo

1 The bank rescue was called the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and required an investment of US$205 billion. See ‘The Legacy of TARP’s Bank Bailout Known as the Capital Purchase Program’, revision undertaken by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in January in 2015.

2 ‘Such a society does not arise unbidden but to a large extent is molded by government policies toward particular minorities and through the promotion of Third World immigration as an instrument of internal change… In the new multicultural as opposed to conventional multiethnic situation, the state glorifies differences from the way of life associated with the once majority population’. In P. Gottfried (2004), Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, University of Missouri, p. 16.

3 In the original, “this state” refers to the “managerial state”, a pejorative term with which some authors criticise public management, claiming that it has become an end in itself, and which they try to use as a basis for the reform of the welfare state.

4 In P.E Gottfried (1999), After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State, Princeton University Press, Princeton, p. 139.

5 In G.L. Schneider (2013), Conservatism in America Since 1930: A Reader, NYU Press, New York, p. 388.

6 See, for example, ‘“Hail Trump!”: white nationalists salute the President-Elect’, The Atlantic, 21/XI/2016.

7 The hotel has been rebaptized as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. It will reopen its doors in the summer of 2018.

8 See Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwartz (1987), Trump: The Art of the Deal, Random House.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Mary Harris (2016), ‘A media post-mortem on the 2016 presidential election’, MediaQuant, 14/XI/2016.

12 The programme was aired for the first time by NBC on 8 January 2004; as of the seventh season (2008) it was called The Celebrity Apprentice. It was suspended in 2015 after the airing of the 14th season, only to return in 2017 (although now without Donald Trump as host; he was substituted by the actor and former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger).

13 The time series can be consulted at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

14 Between 1904 and 1914, the US granted legal status to nearly 11 million immigrants; this 10-year cumulative figure is the highest in US history except for the decade 1999-2009. See Migration Policy Institute (2017), ‘Annual number of new legal permanent residents, fiscal years 1820 to 2016’.

15 The percentage of immigrants in the US was 13.2% of the population and in 2016 it was 13.5%.

17 Data from American Community Surveys (IPUMS).

20 The CSPAN transcription of this part of the speech reads: ‘I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words’.

22 ‘The immigrants who came, in different periods, to occupy the territory which today covers the United States of America, differed from each other in many ways: their objectives were not the same, and they governed themselves according to different principles. These men nevertheless had common traits among them, and the all found themselves in an analogous situation. The tie of language is perhaps the strongest and most durable that binds peoples. All the immigrants spoke a common language; they were children of the same country’, in A. de Tocqueville (1835), Democracy in America.

23 R. Hernández Nieto (2017), ‘La legislación lingüística en los Estados Unidos’, Observatorio de la Lengua Española y las Culturas Hispánicas en EEUU, Instituto Cervantes, Boston.

24 Most states have approved laws declaring English the official language, others have various official languages and some have none.

26 Amy H. Liu & A.E. Sokhey (2014), ‘When and why do US states make English their official language?’, The Washington Post, 18/VI/2014; and A.H. Liu et al. (2014), ‘Immigrant threat and national salience: understanding the “English official” movement in the United States’, Research & Politics, vol. 1, nr 1, pp. 1-8.

27 See Hernández Nieto (2017), p. 12 and following.

29 See Hernández Nieto (2017), p. 88 and following.

30 Santorum clarified some days later that his statements had been distorted: ‘Whether or not English is the language here, English should be taught’ (EFE, 16/III/2012). The referendum in Puerto Rico, held in 2012, resulted in a victory for those in favour of statehood.

32 The term ‘cultural assimilation’ is used in the sociology of culture to define the incorporation of a foreign culture into a host culture that receives it, viewing this process as beneficial for both. It was used in the first half of the 20th century for explaining the non-violent nature of the cultural homogenization process in the US. One of its origins is the concept of the melting pot, popularised by the work of Israel Zangwill, particularly ‘America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming’, in The Melting Pot, 1908.

34 ‘Jeb Bush is crazy, who cares that he speaks Mexican, this is America, English !!’, 25/VIII/2015, 3:14, @realDonaldTrump.

36 In the opinion of the researcher Frances Negrón-Muntaner, the term significantly predates that of ‘Hispanic’. It was created by Americans during the construction of the Panama Canal to refer to the local workers who did not speak English (no speak English), and it evolved into the actual form, ‘spic.’

37 D. Barry y J. Eligon (2017), ‘“Trump, Trump, Trump!” How a President’s name became a racial jeer’, The New York Times, 16/XII/2017.

38 The data is from January 2018; at this moment, the most followed Twitter account belongs to the singer Katy Perry (108 million followers) and she is followed in the list by the singer Justin Bieber (105 million) and the former US President Barack Obama (98 million).

39 Both Twitter accounts, @WhiteHouse and @LaCasaBlanca, were created in January 2017.

40 Statements on the NBC programme Meet the Press, 22/I/2017.

41 Using the terminology of Daniel Hallin and Paolo Mancini. See D.C. Hallin & P. Mancini (2004), Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

43 Talk radio is the name given to US radio stations that air mainly programming based on spoken content and the participation of the audience. Talk radio began to spread in the 1990s, after the Fairness Doctrine (the principle that obliges radio stations to maintain ideological equilibrium in their content) was declared unconstitutional in 1987.

44 In 2015 Trump sued Univision when, after his speech announcing his presidential candidacy, the Spanish-language channel decided to rescind the contract it had with Trump for broadcasting the contents of the Miss Universe contest.

46 Hillary Clinton enjoyed less support from the Hispanic electorate than Barack Obama (66% compared with 71%), according to the same surveys. In this regard, see the publications of Pew Research.

47 See, for example, M. Barreto and G. Segura (2017), “Understanding Latino voting strength in 2016 and beyond: why culturally competent research matters,” Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy, vol. 2, nº 2, pp. 190-201. See also, “Did Latino voters actually turn out for Trump in the election? Not really,” Los Angeles Times, 11/I/2017.

49 See: J.M. Krogstad, R. Stepler and M.H. López (2015), “English proficiency on the rise among Latinos,” Pew Research Center, 12/V/2015.

51 On the results of the California referendum (Proposition 58). On the reform of the Massachusetts educational system and the Language Opportunity for Our Kids (LOOK) program.

53 See the “Mapa Hispano de los Estados Unidos 2017” that is published each year by the Observatory for the Spanish Language and Hispanic Cultures of the Cervantes Institute, pp. 30-32.

54 According to the commentary of the political analyst, Josh Dawsey, in Twitter.

<![CDATA[ ]]> 2012-02-01T01:27:20Z ]]> <![CDATA[ The World Digital Library (WDL) and Universal Access to Knowledge (ARI) ]]> 2009-12-15T10:22:55Z

The World Digital Library (WDL) makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.

Theme: The World Digital Library (WDL) makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.

Summary: On 21 April 2009 UNESCO and 32 partner institutions launched the World Digital Library (WDL), a website that features unique cultural material from libraries and archives around the world. The site –– includes manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, prints and photographs. It provides unrestricted public access, free of charge, to this material.

Analysis: On 21 April 2009 UNESCO and 32 partner institutions launched the World Digital Library (WDL), a website that features unique cultural material from libraries and archives around the world. The site –– includes manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, prints and photographs. It provides unrestricted public access, free of charge, to this material.

Building Knowledge Societies: UNESCO’s Overarching Objective
One of UNESCO’s main mandates is to promote the free flow of all forms of knowledge in education, science, culture and communication. Libraries have always been part of UNESCO’s work in promoting universal access to knowledge.

The Organisation therefore promotes education, research and exchanges through the improved and increased availability of content on the Internet. To this end, it cooperates with a number of partners on the creation of digital and other repositories. UNESCO is particularly committed to support the World Digital Library to expand and grow worldwide.

Technology is flattening the communications landscape at an unprecedented pace, making it easier to share information and knowledge. Still, today, as in the past, the control of knowledge is subject to serious inequality, exclusion and social conflict.

Today’s knowledge divide refers to the gaps that exist in the four building blocks of Knowledge Societies, namely knowledge creation, knowledge preservation, knowledge sharing and knowledge application.

These four building blocks are at the heart of UNESCO’s efforts to harness the power of knowledge and information to foster development. Libraries, especially digital libraries, are truly at the heart of Knowledge Societies: they enable people to access, share and apply knowledge.

Why Digital Libraries?
Digital libraries extend traditional library services and offer many new options. Like any library, they should feature a high degree of selection of resources that meet criteria relevant to their mission, and they should provide services that facilitate use of the resources by their target community.

What do digital libraries offer users that cannot be found in traditional libraries? First and foremost, they are often able to provide access through distributed networks to a range of information that would prove impossible for even the greatest of the world’s traditional libraries. Also high on the list of attractions for many users is the opportunity to consult digital libraries from multiple locations. Items are never inaccessible because they have been loaned, sent to be rebound, wrongly shelved, stolen or are being used by another user at the same time.

Although research and development relating to digital libraries started in certain developed parts of the world, digital libraries are in reality a global phenomenon. People the world over have a need for timely and relevant information, even if the specific needs differ from community to community. With the development of digital libraries, users can now view and study collections from all over the world.

Overcoming the digital divide is a challenge that is being faced in many countries. Librarians, scholars and educators in many countries feel they have a role to play in bridging the digital divide by creating appropriate digital libraries and by ensuring that their users are information literate. Many institutions involved in developing digital libraries are also very active in creating content for their users in local languages to make the material more easily read and understood by the local user population.

Digital Libraries and Universal Access to Knowledge
The digitisation of local information sources, be they rare manuscripts, archives, photographs, museum artefacts or works of art, is an activity undertaken by many libraries and other cultural institutions worldwide. Some initiatives have a global perspective. Europeana, Google Book Search and the World Digital Library are three hallmarks.

Europeana gives direct access to more than 6 million digitised items from museums, libraries and archives across Europe. The target is to have 10 million digitised works available online by 2010. Over 1,000 cultural organisations from across Europe have provided material to Europeana. The Europeana interface is available in all official EU languages.

The digital objects that users can find on Europeana are not stored on a central computer, but remain with the cultural institutions and are hosted on their servers.

The selection of content is determined by EU countries and their cultural institutions. Whoever holds the material, whether individual libraries, audiovisual collections, archives or museums, decides what to digitise.

Europeana is a cultural project and not a commercial undertaking. It has a broader reach than a service such as Google Book Search because it provides access to different types of content from different types of cultural institutions, making it possible to bring together the works of a painter with relevant archival documents, as well as books written about his life.

Google Book Search
Google Book Search is a service from Google that searches the full text of books that Google scans, converts to text using optical character recognition and stores. Clicking a result from Google Book Search opens an interface in which the user may view pages from the book as well as content-related advertisements and links to the publisher’s website and booksellers. Through a variety of access limitations and security measures, Google limits the number of viewable pages and attempts to prevent page printing and text copying of material under copyright.

Google Book Search allows public-domain works and other out-of-copyright material to be downloaded in PDF format. For users outside the US, though, Google must be sure that the work in question is indeed out of copyright under local laws.

Five years after its launch, Google Books has posted over 10 million books through its partnerships with libraries (29 in the world today) and agreements with publishers. The initiative has been hailed for its potential to offer unprecedented access to what may become the largest online corpus of human knowledge.

The project, however, has certainly not been without criticism. Some European intellectuals have expressed concern that the disproportionate emphasis on works in English could shape access to historical scholarship, and, ultimately, the growth and direction of future scholarship. Also, of recent interest in the headlines, at times Google has not made a distinction between books in the public domain and books under copyright, provoking the ire of right holders and leading to legal action.

Another spot of contention is Google’s treatment of orphan works, those items for which it is difficult or impossible to determine the copyright holder. Google had claimed that these works became the company’s property after digitisation, but some copyright holders and authors emerged seeking compensation for the use of their works. A fund has now been established by Google to provide payment to those whose works were digitised under the assumption that they were orphan works.

Libraries are designed to make books available to readers. Google aims to make money. Between the two, a workable compromise can be found. We must defend the public good against private appropriation and only a solid agreement can protect that interest.

The World Digital Library
The World Digital Library (WDL) makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.

The principal objectives of the WDL are: (1) to promote international and intercultural understanding; (2) to expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet; (3) to provide resources for educators, scholars and general audiences; and (4) to build capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and between countries.

The WDL makes it possible to discover study and enjoy cultural treasures from around the world on one site. These cultural treasures include, but are not limited to, manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs and architectural drawings.

Items on the WDL may easily be browsed by place, time, topic, type of item and contributing institution, or can be located by an open-ended search, in several languages. Special features include interactive geographic clusters, a timeline, advanced image-viewing and interpretive capabilities. Item-level descriptions and interviews with curators about featured items provide additional information.

Navigation tools and content descriptions are provided in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Many more languages are represented in the actual books and other primary materials, which are provided in their original languages. Browse and search features facilitate cross-cultural and cross-temporal exploration on the site. Descriptions of each item and videos, with expert curators speaking about selected items, provide context for users, and are intended to spark curiosity and encourage both students and the general public to learn more about the cultural heritage of all countries.

The World Digital Library was developed by a team at the Library of Congress, with technical assistance provided by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of Alexandria, Egypt. Institutions contributing to the WDL include national libraries, and cultural and educational institutions from all over the world.

Examples of treasures featured include Arabic scientific manuscripts from the National Library and Archives of Egypt, early photographs of Latin America from the National Library of Brazil, the Hyakumanto darani –a publication from the year 764– from the National Diet Library of Japan, the famous 13th century Devil’s Bible from the National Library of Sweden and works of Arabic, Persian and Turkish calligraphy from the collections of the US Library of Congress.

Background and Key Features
US Librarian of Congress James H. Billington proposed the establishment of the WDL in June 2005. UNESCO welcomed the idea as a contribution toward fulfilling its strategic objectives, which include promoting Knowledge Societies, building capacity in developing countries and promoting cultural diversity on the Web.

A 2006 meeting of experts from all over the world led to the establishment of working groups to develop guidelines for the project, and to a decision by the Library of Congress, UNESCO and five partner institutions –the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the National Library of Brazil, the National Library and Archives of Egypt, the National Library of Russia and the Russian State Library– to develop and contribute content to a WDL prototype to be presented at the UNESCO General Conference in 2007. Input into the design of the prototype was solicited through a consultative process that involved UNESCO, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and individuals and institutions in more than 40 countries.

The successful unveiling of the prototype was followed by a decision by several libraries to develop a public, freely-accessible version of the WDL for launch at UNESCO in April 2009. More than two dozen institutions contributed content to the launch version of the site. WDL now (November 2009) has 56 partners from 35 countries. Another 10 partners in seven countries are completing the formalities and will join in the next few weeks. Discussions are underway with many more prospective partners. It is expected that the 2009 target of 60 partners will be reached ahead of schedule. The WDL will continue to add content to the site, and will enlist new partners from the widest possible range of UNESCO members in the project.

The WDL features high-quality digital items reflecting the cultural heritage of all UNESCO member countries. The WDL represents a shift in digital library projects from a focus on quantity for its own sake to quality; quantity remains a priority, but not at the expense of the quality standards established during the start-up phase.

The WDL breaks new ground in the following areas, each representing significant investments of time and effort:



(1) Consistent metadata: each item is described by a consistent set of bibliographic information (or metadata) relating to its geographical, temporal and topical coverage, among other requirements. Consistent metadata provides the foundation for a site that is easy and interesting to explore, and that helps to reveal connections between items. The metadata also improves exposure to external search engines.

(2) Description: among the most impressive features of the WDL are descriptions of each item, answering the questions: ‘What is this item and why is it significant?’ This information, written by curators and other experts, provides context for users and is designed to spark the curiosity of students and the general public to learn more about the cultural heritage of all countries.

(3) Multilingualism: the metadata, navigation and supporting content (eg, curator videos) are translated into seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. This feature complicates maintenance, but brings WDL closer to the goal of being truly universal.

(4) Digital library technical development: the WDL team’s work with state-of-the art tools and technologies led to advances in cataloguing and multilingual website development:




  • A new cataloguing application was developed to support the metadata requirements.
  • A centralised tool with a translation memory was used, which prevents translators from having to translate the same word or phrase twice.
  • An interface was developed, which features the WDL content in ways that are appealing to non-traditional users and that encourage exploration of primary sources.
  • New technologies continue to be developed, improving workflow and reducing the time elapsed between content selection and availability on the site.


(5) Collaborative network: the WDL emphasises openness in all aspects of the project: access to content, technology transfer for capacity building, and partner, stakeholder and user participation. Technical and programmatic networks are seen as vital to WDL’s sustainability and growth.

The partners of the WDL are mainly libraries, archives or other institutions that have collections of cultural content that they contribute to the WDL. Partners may also include institutions, foundations and private companies that contribute to the project in other ways, for example by sharing technology, convening or co-sponsoring meetings of working groups, or contributing financially.

While many of the partners or prospective partners that wish to contribute content to the WDL have well-established digitisation programmes with dedicated staff and equipment, others, particularly in the developing world, do not have access to these capabilities. Over the years, the Library of Congress has worked with partners in Brazil, Egypt, Iraq and Russia to establish digital conversion centres to produce high-quality digital images. Much of the content on the WDL was produced at these centres.

The WDL supports UNESCO’s mission of capacity building in developing countries, and intends to work with UNESCO, partners in these countries and external funders to establish additional digital conversion centres throughout the world. These centres will produce content not only for the WDL, but for other national and international projects as well.

Content Selection Criteria
The following points will guide how partners and the WDL will approach the selection of sources that will present the history of humanity to the worldwide audience through the WDL.



  • Partner institutions are encouraged to select items or collections of items for inclusion in the WDL that best represent their respective national cultures.
  • In addition to presenting their national cultures, partner institutions are encouraged to contribute to the WDL collections or items from their holdings that relate to the history and culture of other countries.
  • The WDL Content Selection Committee may designate selected, high-profile subjects for treatment in an international comparative perspective, eg, ‘the history of writing’, and call for contributions from partner institutions that relate to these subjects.
  • Partner institutions are especially invited to contribute to the WDL items or collections from their holdings that are included in the Memory of the World Register.

Private and Public Partners
It is interesting to note that the WDL has received support from private and public partners, some of them for specific tasks, such as: Google, for the initial development of a WDL plan and the WDL prototype; the Qatar Foundation, to support the development of the Central Library of the Qatar Foundation as a key node in the WDL network; the Carnegie Corporation of New York to support the inclusion of cultural institutions from sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia in the WDL; the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, to support activities relating to the dissemination, through the WDL, of digital versions of manuscripts and other materials relating to science in the Arab and Islamic worlds; Microsoft; the Lawrence and Mary Anne Tucker Foundation, to support the establishment of a digital conversion centre at the Iraqi National Library and Archives; and the Bridges of Understanding Foundation, for the development of Middle East-related content for inclusion in the WDL.


What Does the Future Hold?
UNESCO is fully committed to supporting the WDL to expand and grow worldwide. It is working with the Library of Congress to enlist new partners in the project, especially in developing countries. WDL now has 56 partners from 35 countries. Many more libraries, archives and other educational and cultural institutions from around the world have expressed their intention of participating in the WDL, meaning that the cultural treasures represented on it will continue to grow.

Abdelaziz Abid
Consultant, UNESCO



<![CDATA[ The Arts Sector and the Current Financial Crisis (ARI) ]]> 2009-07-17T06:44:39Z

The international financial crisis has had an impact on the arts sector and cultural organisations need to take measures to survive the economic downturn.

Theme:The international financial crisis has had an impact on the arts sector and cultural organisations need to take measures to survive the economic downturn.

Summary: This paper explores current arts sponsorship trends in times of financial crisis. It looks at the private sponsorship sector, the public sector and at audience attendance in general. It puts forward a set of recommendations on what arts organisations can do to diversify their revenue models and to be less dependent on public and corporate support.


Financial Crisis: Effects on Private and Public Arts Funding
The global financial crisis began in July 2007 was triggered by the dramatic fall in the value of securitised mortgages in the US on the back of the downturn in the housing market. These events gave rise to a global financial crisis and the collapse in confidence among banks and investors in the financial market. The resulting liquidity crisis prompted a substantial injection of capital into the financial markets by the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank. The TED spread, an indicator of perceived credit risk in the general economy, spiked up in July 2007, remained volatile for a year and then spiked even higher in September 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed. This sent the world’s stock markets into a tailspin, and a large number of banks, mortgage lenders and insurance companies either failed or were bailed out in the weeks that followed.

With the significant weakening of the financial sector and the slowdown in the economy, the economic downturn is affecting all sectors, including the arts and cultural sector.

Most arts organisations rely on a mixed-funding model, consisting of public money, private sponsorship and box-office or merchandise revenue. In continental Europe –in countries like Spain, Germany and France– arts organisations receive substantial subsidies from the government, contrary to the US, where private money, either corporate or from individuals, has always been the main funding channel for the arts.

In Spain the 1978 Constitution established a decentralised administrative structure on three levels: central government, regional government (with 17 regions and two autonomous cities) and local administrations (108 municipalities, plus provincial municipal councils and other local bodies).

In 2005, Spain’s total public expenditure on culture at all three levels was of €5,144 million, approximately 0.56% of the Spanish GDP. Over the four-year period from 2000 to 2005, the total public expenditure on culture at all three levels increased, in nominal terms, by 62%. Most public cultural expenditure comes from local authorities (56.3%), followed by regions (28.5%) and finally the central government (15.2%). This shows the decentralised nature of the Spanish model, in which territorial authorities assume most of the responsibility for culture.

The financing of culture in the Federal Republic of Germany rests on several pillars. In keeping with the subsidiarity principle, culture –and thus its public financing– is first and foremost the responsibility of the citizens and their local communities. Only when the scope or nature of a cultural policy task is beyond the community’s resources does the state step in as a sponsor. The municipalities thus bear the lion’s share of the cost of financing public cultural activities and institutions, followed by the Länder. Government expenditure on culture totalled €8,322 million in 2007.

In 2002, French public financing for culture totalled €6 billion, including €2.6 billion for the Ministry of Culture and Communication and €3.6 billion for the other ministries. In Metropolitan France, the cultural expenditure of the local authorities is at a similar level: €4.1 billion for municipalities of more than 10,000 inhabitants, €280 million for publicly-owned establishments of inter-municipal co-operation (with the possibility of raising the tax), €1.1 billion for the départements and €360 million for the régions (figures from ‘Compendium – Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe’).

In the US the situation is completely different, The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, is the largest public funder, with a budget of US$155 million in 2009. However, this is less than 1% percent of total arts philanthropy in the US and only a small fraction of the art and culture funding provided by many of the European governments. In 2005, the US private sector gave US$13.51 billion to support the arts throughout America (according to ‘Americans for the Arts National Arts Policy Roundtable Publication Report 2006’).

Private Sponsorship
With the corporate and financial sector under severe pressure to cut costs, and with major changes in top management, arts related sponsorships and support have come under closer scrutiny. The arts sector could become an easy victim, especially in circumstances when arts sponsorship and support is the result of a Chairman’s whim or is mainly used as an instrument for corporate entertainment.

While the arts in continental Europe rely heavily on public support, the UK has always been somewhere in between, largely dependent on a mixed funding model.

In the UK, according to the respondents of the ‘Arts & Business Private Investment in Culture Survey’, private investment (PI) in 2007-2008 accounted for an average of 13% of cultural organisations’ total income. Public sector funding, including funding from the arts councils, the UK Ministries of Culture, other governmental departments, local authorities, other public subsidies and lottery funding, made up 54% of the total income of cultural organisations. The remaining 33% was raised through earned income, including ticket sales and trading.

Research by Arts and Business shows that 30% of the corporate donors who gave more than £1 million to the arts last year expect these budgets to shrink. Respondents also felt it was arts sponsorship that was most vulnerable, compared with charities and sport. Many companies with established records in the arts fear being criticised by angry shareholders and puzzled customers. ‘The big sponsorship companies that we deal with are very sensitive to the fact that they don’t want to be seen as frivolous’, said Natalie Melton of Arts and Business.

A survey commissioned by Arts & Business in April 2009 (‘Market Trends’ by Tina Mermiri) shows that smaller arts organisations are already feeling the pinch in terms of securing external funding (from the public, particularly local authorities, but also in the form of private investment, particularly business investment). Most arts respondents (63%) are already experiencing a substantial decrease in business investment.

Individual giving is on the whole faring better than business investment, with membership subscriptions for most organisations being maintained (if not increased). Funding from trusts and foundations is also difficult to secure, as expressed by more than half of the arts respondents.

However, most organisations think that the demand for their services will increase although it will be harder for them to continue providing quality content to the extent that they did previously.

As the majority of small arts organisations are finding it difficult to secure external funding (especially from private sources), they are keen to become more flexible and creative, coming up with alternative means of raising funds to help them survive.

Businesses still consider 2009 a critical year, with confidence levels lowers in April 2009 than in November and August 2008. However, they are now more confident about their future investment in the arts, with 87% of respondents expecting to invest more (often) in the arts by 2011, although the discernible trends seem to show that businesses will prefer to invest in more projects rather than in larger projects.

This seems to match the anecdotal evidence that badge/blockbuster sponsorships will decrease in popularity, as will corporate hospitality and flashy events.

Business priorities are shifting in terms of the kind of investment they want to make in the arts. Staff engagement is becoming increasingly important, in light of business needs to keep staff morale high. Marketing is still important, and so is corporate social responsibility.

Public Funding of the Arts
Public funding of the arts is under threat as government budget deficit is rapidly increasing, on the back of slowing economies and the credit crisis.

The arts sector has experienced public funding cuts: in the UK, the Arts Council has cut its budget by £4 million for 2009, while Italy’s arts fund, the FUS, has reduced its budget from a projected US$726 million to US$509 million (according to AGIS, the entertainment trade organisation that liaises with the government). However, at the same time governments have created ‘recovery funds’ to preserve the sector.

On 10 April 2009 the US National Endowment for the Arts announced US$19.8 million in one-time grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). The grants are aimed at the state arts agencies and regional arts organisations to support the arts sector of the economy. Potential recipients include organisations in the performing, visual and literary arts and all applicants must be previous NEA award recipients sometime in the previous four years).

Grants are limited to salary support, full or partial, for one or more positions that are critical to an organisation’s artistic mission and that are in jeopardy or have been eliminated as a result of the current economic climate, and also for fees for previously engaged artists and/or contractual personnel to maintain or expand the period during which such persons would be engaged.

In April 2009 the Arts Council England introduced an immediate £4 million cut in its budget, but announced a further £40 million ‘Sustain fund’ for arts organisations suffering because of the economic downturn. The ‘Sustain fund’ will be available over the next two years (or until the money is spent) and will award grants of between £75,000 and £3 million to arts organisations severely affected by the recession. Its aim is to offer a rapid response, with no more than a six-week delay between application and decision.

The size of the grants and the fact that individual artists are excluded (they are being directed towards Grants for the Arts, which has recorded a £2 million rise since last year, to £54 million) suggests that it is the big buildings that are most likely to benefit.

However, the Chairman of Arts Council England, Dame Liz Forgan, warned: ‘This is not about money for rocky organisations. This is about successful organisations whose operations are threatened specifically by the recession, for example banks stopping their credit’.

It was also for groups who are doing ‘excellent and brave and ambitious’ work, she said. ‘Audiences have been developing over the last 10 years and there is a complete appetite for the ambitious and for the new. It would be wrong for arts groups to retreat into safety, leaving audiences bored and disheartened’.

In Spain the newly appointed Minister of Culture has announced €22 million in support of the cultural sector and creative industries that will also have a fixed interest of no more than 2% from TAE (equivalent annual fee or tasa anual equivalente).

Hence, although traditional public arts funding is on the decrease, new types of ‘recovery’ funds have become available for arts organisations undergoing financial difficulties, thereby shielding them from some of the negative impact of the recession.

Box Office Revenue/Merchandise
When it is impossible to change what is happening to one’s financial health, the need for personal health and wellbeing is heightened. The arts sector is to some extent ‘recession-resistant’ as people seek ‘well-being’ by spending more time at a museum, attending or taking part in sports, or escaping to the theatre, ballet or concerts. The public benefit from the ‘feel-good’ factor provided by smaller luxuries as a respite from the world of global credit crunches and negative equity, rather than spending their money on major items like overseas travel or new cars. In difficult times, history proves that the theatre, cosmetics (the ‘lipstick test’) and music sales tend to boom, as arts and creativity flourish.

The success of Mamma Mia! is just one example of how the arts can thrive in times of crisis. The Abba Economic Index, a little-known financial measure with an uncanny correlation to tough times, is on the up again. It first entered a bull phase in the mid-1970s, when the band rocketed to stardom amid the three-day week and raging inflation. The UK was an economic basket case, yet ABBA was a huge success.

When recession struck in the early 1990s, we found solace in Abba Gold: Greatest Hits, which was released in 1992. It topped the UK charts. The latest Abba-fest will help Hollywood defy the recessionary gloom. The film factory’s box office take for June 2008 was up 17.3% over the same month of the previous year.

The latest edition of the The Hay Festival of Literature, in May 2009, saw a record number of visitors, with a 20% increase from the previous year. ‘People want to see what others have got to say about the recession’, said the festival Director, Peter Florence. ‘What we are seeing is the evening entertainment tickets are selling very, very well, on one hand, people want to get away from the recession and enjoy themselves, then on the other hand, we are selling out of tickets to the economic events’. Audiences were keen to find answers from Howard Davies, the LSE’s Director who talked about the Global Crisis, Niall Ferguson, author of The Ascent of Money, and Amartya Senn, the Economy Nobel prize winner.

Indeed, recessions often bring about a flowering of the arts. Jazz prospered in America in the Great Depression in the 1930s as people stayed in and listened to their radios.

In Spain the book and publishing sector are resisting the crisis. Antonio María Avila, the Director of the Spanish Publishers’ Association, says that books sales have not seen a significant change: when things are going well sales do not increase dramatically, but neither do they fall drastically in times of crisis. Even though, according to Pilar Gallego (President of the Madrid Book Fair), book sales dropped between 15% and 20% in the first half of the year, the Madrid Book Fair recorded a 10% increase in sales compared with 2008, according to its Director, Teodoro Sacristán.

According to the Generalitat, the International Music Festival in Benicassim programmed for July 2009 is expecting 200,000 visitors this year, a 35% increase compared with 2008. According to the organisers, the pre-booking of tickets has set a record, with all tickets having been sold out.

Theatre visits in Spain are also on the increase. Daniel Martínez, director of FOCUS group, said that audiences last year had increased by 20% thanks to musicals, while attendance in alternative theatre venues was up 3%. In 2008 mainstream theatres had a total audience of 2.6 million, 400,000 more than in 2007.

According to the economist José María Álvarez de Lara, Spain’s cultural industries in general have recorded annual increases of 3%-4% and, although growth is likely to slow down, it should still expand by around 0.5%-1%.

What Can Arts Organisations Do?
Against a backdrop of mounting challenges, there is still quite a lot that can be done. The main point is that the non-profit sector must be proactive and inventive when responding to a downturn. How can it take advantage of the current crisis and be better prepared for the future? These are some recent developments:

  1. Exploring financial innovations/solutions. Capital has become a scarce resource for many arts organisations, having tied up most of their capital in fixed assets such as buildings and properties, art collections, etc. A number of financial innovations, such as borrowing against an arts organisation’s art collection, are emerging. Two specialist New York financial institutions –Art Capital and Art Finance Partners– are providing finance to museums and other arts institutions that are in the position to put up works of art as collateral. Many of these are facing significant cuts in endowments after a drop in private donations. The most prominent example is the Metropolitan Opera, that decided to put up its celebrated Chagall murals as part of the collateral for an existing loan it had with JP Morgan. This enabled it to free-up cash, currently used as collateral for the loan. Structured finance, such as the securitisation of future box-office income, and lease buy-back schemes on properties owned by arts organisations are other possible means of releasing cash for operations.

  1. Maximising brand value through merchandise. Culture and art is becoming a valuable commodity in our society. Arts brands, such as Tate, V&A, El Prado, MoMA, Guggenheim and Louvre have become highly valuable brand names. Whilst Guggenheim and Louvre have explored their brand value through global franchises, others are using their brands for merchandising. Merchandise has become one of the most important sources of revenue for many arts organisations. The Tate recorded a turnover of £13.4 million in 2007-08 from merchandise, generating a profit of more than £2 million. A newly created company in the UK –– aims to help arts organisations maximise the revenue from cultural merchandise. is a unique new retail project bringing together the best global culture brands. The website will act as a portal for ‘cultural’ merchandise from museums, galleries and festivals and could enhance and facilitate new revenue streams for these organisations.

  1. Developing a membership base that can be mobilised politically for advocacy purposes as well as economically for resource generation. This can be done through a traditional membership scheme, with members receiving certain privileges like preferential bookings, previews and newsletters. Most arts organisations are actively cultivating their members through tiered membership schemes. Museums like the Tate have created a number of ‘acquisition committees’, such as the Latin American Acquisitions Committee, which aims to support the purchasing of works of Latin American art. These committees are ‘exclusive clubs’ for people who wish to contribute financially to building up the Tate’s art collection.

Outside the museum world, other innovations are taking place. V22, a London-based art company, was established in 2006 and listed on one of London’s smaller stock exchanges. The arts fund has 100 collectors and 28 artists as shareholders. Advisers include David Thorp, formerly Director of the South London Gallery, and Thomas Rowland, formerly at the Saatchi Collection. The fund specialises in works by young artists like Marcus Harvey, Harland Miller and Peter Jones, who are represented by good dealers or have some of their work in major collections (the artists become shareholders and so benefit from any profits). The investor puts up £20,000 (for 800,000 shares) and gains tax relief because it qualifies as an SIPP (self-invested personal pension). For the investors this means an ‘angel’ relationship with artists they like and a modest return on an investment, while the artists gain cash flow without generating financial debt. This model could be a way for arts organisations to attract ‘angel’ investors.

Conclusion: Arts organisations are facing global economic hardship. By reviewing their funding policies, this paper argues that new funding patterns and business models are likely to emerge from the current economic crisis.

In January 2009, Helmut K Anheier from the University of Heidelberg argued in a paper on the global economic downturn that: ‘… the crisis offers perhaps as much in terms of opportunities as it does in terms of challenges. It will lead to the demise of some nonprofits and the rise of others, some will flourish and others become less relevant, moribund, and defunct and may even disappear altogether’.[1]

Surviving the economic downturn requires a pro-active stance on behalf of arts organisations, who are already responding to the crisis by being innovative in the way they think about their assets, their business and their brands. Ultimately, creativity, one of the sector’s intrinsic features, is likely to be its best asset.

Cristina Fuentes La Roche
Director of the Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias and Programming Director of the Hay Festival Segovia

[1] Helmut K. Anheier (2009), The Global Economic Downturn, Pilanthropy and Nonprofits - Reflections on What it Means, and What To Do, Centre for Social Investment, University of Heidelberg, & Center for Civil Society, UCLA, January.

<![CDATA[ New Prospects for the Spanish Language in the Philippines (ARI) ]]> 2009-02-26T03:04:07Z

The announcement by the Philippine government concerning the reintroduction of Spanish in secondary education offers new prospects. The new situation deserves consideration from the perspective of individual rights.

Theme: The announcement by the Philippine government concerning the reintroduction of Spanish in secondary education offers new prospects. The new situation deserves consideration from the perspective of individual rights.

Summary: The pilot project by the Philippine Department of Education means that 17 state schools will offer Spanish as an optional language at secondary level. This offer comes in addition to the courses available in private schools and universities. Spain can offer support for teacher training, linguistic consultancy or bilingual classrooms, as it does in other countries. Naturally, the Latin American dimension of the language and people’s right to choose their education cannot be overlooked.

Analysis: On 6 November 2008, the Philippine Education Secretary, Jesli A. Lapus, announced that Spanish would return to the state education system, dependent upon the Department of Education. The announcement came within the framework of the 4th annual Tribuna forum between Spain and the Philippines, held in the city of Cebu, and involving some 100 delegates from both countries.

The announcement unleashed an enthusiastic response from the Spanish authorities. On the same date the move was announced, Spain’s Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ministry (at the request of its Foreign Policy Director for Asia) issued an official statement saying that ‘the Government of Spain is delighted by the solemn announcement’ and that ‘Spain expresses particular satisfaction’ at this ‘excellent news’, which ‘implies a great step forward in strengthening bilateral relations’. The statement also said that ‘Spain is studying the launch of a linguistic cooperation programme’.

The Cervantes Institute issued another statement concerning what it called a ‘significant step forward in the presence of the Spanish language in that country’, but added that it is an ‘offer of optional classes to secondary school pupils’. It also outlined a ‘plan to mitigate the shortage of teachers’, with the involvement of the Institute, the Spanish Education Ministry and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

Press agencies carried comments by the Spanish Ambassador in Manila, Luis Arias, and the Director General of Foreign Policy for Asia and the Pacific Region, José Eugenio Salarich. The newspapers carried reports, and some Spanish media, in Internet editions, even ran the following unfortunate headline: ‘Spain Reconquers the Philippines’. Significantly, the US agency Associated Press sourced its teletype print-out in Madrid, not in the Philippines.

On the Philippines side, the Secretary’s announcement was just that: an announcement, with no frills attached. Initially, there were no official communiqués or press releases. The Philippines News Agency, when reporting about the Tribuna forum, made no mention of the language issue. The Department of Education took two months to make the news public, via a purely descriptive press release on 28 January 2009, with no added opinion. Only then did the Philippine press report the news and the political and academic world began to react.

There are two visions of the same issue: the Spanish vision and the Philippine vision. Perhaps, two different emotions.

In fact, it is the repetition of a ‘decision already announced by the President [of Philippines], Gloria Macapagal [-Arroyo] on her state visit to Spain in December 2007’, as indicated in the communiqué issued by the Spanish Foreign Ministry and as reported at the time by the Philippine media.

The presidential decision had immediate consequences. The Under-Secretary of the Department of Education, Vilma L. Labrador, circulated a Memorandum (17/XII/2007), on the ‘Restoration of the Spanish language in Philippine Education’. In it, the Department ‘encourages secondary schools to offer basic and advanced Spanish in the Third and Fourth Year level respectively as an elective’.

In Cebu, Secretary Lapus reiterated the initiative and offered a few more details, and still more specifics were provided at the subsequent meeting. The project consists in launching a Special Programme in Foreign Language, having recognised that the prevalence of English is no longer sufficient due to the international demand for speakers of other languages. Accordingly, adding foreign languages as optional subjects has become critical for the Philippine educational system.

The programme begins with Spanish, for historical reasons and because of its relationship to the Philippine national language (according to various sources, between 20% and 33% of Tagalog words are of Spanish origin). In the pilot project, which will start in June 2009, one secondary school (preferably with a language laboratory) will be chosen in each of the 17 administrative regions. Two classes, each with 35 students, will be set up from among pupils in the final two years of high school. They will receive four hours a week of Spanish classes.

The programme will therefore benefit 70 pupils in each of the 17 schools selected: a total of 1,190 pupils. Considering that Spanish is not offered even as an optional subject in the state-run education system in the Philippines, this is a significant step forward.

To adequately assess its scope, it is worth recalling that in the Philippines there are 5,078 state secondary schools, with 5,072,210 pupils, plus another 3,377 private secondary schools, with 1,290,792 pupils (2007).

For some years, there have been educational rapprochements between Spain and the Philippines: Philippines-Spain Friendship Day, on 30 June, introduced by law in 2003 (Republic Act No. 9187), which the Department of Education celebrates each year in cities like Manila, Zamboanga and Baler; the Tribuna forum, which began in 2005 as a forum for bilateral meetings; and the SPCC (Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation) which the Spanish Culture Ministry launched in 1997 to foster cultural programmes via universities in the Philippines and Pacific islands. Some private cultural institutions in the Philippines (Ortigas Foundation, Vibal Foundation and Fundación Santiago) also contribute to learning about Spain. The Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language could again play an interesting role.

Until the current Constitution in 1987, Spanish had been an official language, alongside English and Filipino. This Constitution establishes four categories: one national language, namely Filipino (based on Tagalog); two official languages, namely English and Filipino; regional languages as auxiliary languages; and two languages for voluntary promotion, namely Spanish and Arabic.

It is important to point out that Spanish never replaced the vernacular Philippine tongues and no-one ever tried to make it. The Filipinos never abandoned their own languages. Spanish, despite being an official language between 1565 and 1987, was never a threat to the Philippines’ linguistic diversity. Quite the contrary, it broadened it further, through its own presence and the emergence of Creole tongues known generically as Chavacano.

The status of Spanish has changed radically in the just over a century since 1898, and even more so since the end of the Second World War. It is no longer the international language of the Philippines, because that role is now for English. It is no longer the language of the country’s social, political or cultural spheres, because that role is now for English or Tagalog (or Filipino, as the national language). And it is no longer the language of households, because Filipinos use their own vernacular languages (of which there are some 120) at home.

Francisco Moreno and Jaime Otero claimed that in 2007 ‘native speakers’ comprised 439,000 people, which accounts for just 0.5% of the population (90 million). However, we observe that even mixed families, who used Spanish as their usual language, have stopped speaking Spanish to their children and grandchildren, and now speak English and Tagalog. Accordingly, what is being lost is not a ‘colonial’ language, as some would have it, but a specific and unique dialectal variety, with its own phonetic, grammatical and lexical characteristics: the Spanish of the Philippines.

Bilingualism at home is possible; but trilingualism is much more difficult. For three quarters of the people in Philippines, Spanish would be their fourth language, after their mother tongue, Filipino and English. Accordingly, the situation of Spanish is truly difficult in the context of the linguistic reality in Philippines, which is so diverse. Not only are there many languages, but each individual is multilingual.

When he made the announcement, the Philippine Education Secretary offered two examples: the initiative by the People’s Republic of China to support the teaching of Chinese in the Philippines by sending 100 teachers, and private schools where Spanish is taught.

These private schools are mostly located in Manila and its suburbs, in Cebu and in other cities like Baguio City. They are international schools (American, French and British) or religious schools with Spanish or Mexican staff. Some also offer Spanish at primary level.

The Saint Pedro Poveda College (run by the Teresian order), in Quezon City, is the highly prestigious school that is taken as a reference. It offers Spanish throughout its curriculum, at both primary and secondary level. When it introduces Spanish in the state system, the Department of Education plans to take into account the curriculum at this school. Poveda is so closely linked to Spanish that some years ago there were talks aimed at making it a Spanish-Philippine school, but the Spanish Education Ministry eventually withdrew from the initiative.

Several universities offer Spanish, but fewer now than before, as part of the general trend that we have already mentioned. In 1995, Maruxa Pita identified 70 higher-education institutions which offered Spanish classes to 15,578 students. In 2006, her successor at the helm of the Cervantes Institute in Manila, Javier Galván, counted 32 institutions and 12,466 students.

In some cases, it is a specific subject for students studying Humanities degrees. In others, it is offered within the Department of Language and Literature (University of San Carlos, Cebu) or the Department of Modern Languages (Ateneo de Manila University) for students studying any degree. The university with the broadest range of qualifications is the state-run University of the Philippines, where it is possible to take a Bachelor of Arts degree (Spanish), Master of Arts (Spanish: Language, Literature, Rizal Studies, Translation) and Doctor of Philosophy (Hispanic Literature; Spanish American Literature; Spanish Filipino Literature; Peninsular Literature).

On the Spanish side, the AECID sends three Spanish lecturers to Philippines universities and the Cervantes Institute in Manila cooperates regularly with them and offers classes to more than 3,000 adults.

For decades, Spanish has been losing ground because it has been looked upon with prejudice as outdated, colonial, useless, difficult or elitist. The change currently taking place is hugely important: Spanish is starting to be seen as a useful, international and open language. Many Filipinos now regret not having learned it better and earlier.

President Gloria Macapagal, who does speak Spanish, knows and values the role of the Spanish language in the world.

International development consultants advise the authorities to encourage Filipinos to learn Spanish, just as Japanese or Koreans do, to help boost their trade relations with Latin America and Spain (and the EU). Consequently, they have told the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) that Spanish is part of development. And they told the mayor of Zamboanga to reinforce Hispanic elements because cities that identify with their culture tend to prosper more. Today, Zamboanga, ‘the Pride of Mindanao’, is also known as ‘Asia’s Latin City’.

In some degree programmes (History, Law), Spanish is still extremely useful, not least in order to understand the original Philippine documents.

Students of medicine and nursing now study Spanish to enhance their chances of being able to emigrate to the US, because they know that it is the second language there and that, consequently, they will have better employment opportunities if they speak it.

Workers at call centres also speak it: their salaries are quite a lot higher if they can offer a bilingual service. Due to its geographical location between Europe and America, the Philippines is the ideal place to fill the gap caused by time differences. In Zamboanga, where the Chavacanos learn Spanish easily, it has become an instrument for professional promotion.

Carers (of children or elderly people) who have emigrated to Spain have found that learning Spanish has opened new doors for them.

For all these reasons, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has set up the National Language Skills Institute (LSI) which offers Spanish classes directly geared to obtaining work permits. And the Cervantes Institute of Manila, which is now run by José Rodríguez, offers courses for specific niche employment groups: Spanish for call centres and teacher training.

Accordingly, Spanish is now perceived as an instrument of communication, with 400 million speakers and, even more importantly, as the second language in the US. It has become a channel towards new opportunities and a way to climb the employment ladder.

Spanish is starting to be less associated with Spain, the colonial past and the history and literature of the Philippines. In a way, we are witnessing a decoupling between the Spanish and Philippine identities and the Spanish language. This is pivotal: it is a useful tool, with no further connotations. It is as successful as English as a universal tongue: most do not learn it for historical or literary causes, but for practical reasons.

Against this new backdrop, we can ask ourselves what Spain can do. The Cervantes institute already does great work teaching the language and spreading the culture in Manila, but it could open new branches or satellites elsewhere in the country. The AECID could contribute by sending more lecturers and implementing more educational development projects. The Ministry of Culture could reinforce its cultural cooperation programme (SPCC). And the Education Ministry could launch the Education Department at the Spanish Embassy in Manila, set up in 2002, and follow the example of its own experience in other countries, with linguistic consultants, resource centres, Spanish sections in schools, Spanish language and culture classes or sponsored schools.

It could help with the training of Philippine teachers, publishing school materials, organising education and better divulging the reality of Spanish in the Philippines (as in the magnificent book by Antonio Quilis and Celia Casado-Fresnillo, La lengua española en Filipinas, CSIC, 2008).

In all of these areas, I believe that from Spain we should be particularly sensitive. And we should also consider the American dimension of Spanish, because Spain does not own the language, and nor is it the main focus of interest of those who learn it. The relationship between the Philippines and the US and Ibero-America (especially Mexico) must be taken into account.

At the same time, the Spanish authorities must pay more attention to the 32,000 Filipinos who live in Spain, offering a range of new possibilities, with people who are perfectly bilingual or trilingual (Spanish-Tagalog-English, Spanish-Cebuan-English). Accordingly, the teaching of Philippine tongues and fostering studies about the Philippines take on a whole new meaning and would serve to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Conclusions: First and foremost are the opportunities for people who wish to learn languages in Spain or in the Philippines. It is a question of human rights, of individual freedom: freedom of culture, education and expression. We all want opportunities for freedom. And that includes the freedom of parents to choose for their children to learn Spanish at home and at school, whether in the state or private system.

The argument is that it is more important for Filipinos to learn Chinese or Japanese, and that is reasonable. But let us leave it to the pupils themselves (or their parents) to decide. Let us allow each person to choose the language they want to study, because it is precisely the Philippine Constitution that entitles them to, stating expressly that Spanish is a language that will be fostered on a voluntary basis.

It is necessary to know the socio-linguistic reality of the Philippines, since not all places are the same. It is a vast country, full of nuances. It makes much more sense to learn Spanish in Metro Manila, Cavite, Zamboanga and Cebu than anywhere else. Consequently, a special effort should be made in those areas, where there are families with a Spanish background and pupils spontaneously interested in learning the language. There are people from households where they have heard Spanish spoken and others who speak Chavacano as their native tongue and would be delighted to learn international Spanish, or for their children to learn it. Consequently, there should be a distinction between when it should be taught as a quasi-native language and when it should be taught as an international language (foreign language). Or, what amounts to the same, when to teach that ‘What’s your name’ is ‘¿Cómo te llamas?’ or, in Filipino Spanish ‘¿Cuál es tu gracia?’, because in no case should the teaching of standard Spanish entail snubbing the local linguistic varieties.

In conclusion, let us help offer alternatives to those who want to study the Spanish language or in the Spanish language. Let us grant them new opportunities for jobs, development, culture, education and individual freedom. And let us do so with resources.

Rafael Rodríguez-Ponga
Ph.D. in Linguistics and Chairman of the Spanish Association for Pacific Studies (Asociación Española de Estudios del Pacífico)Resumen en Inglés

<![CDATA[ Literature in Translation: Why is it so Difficult to Enter the Anglo-American Market? (ARI) ]]> 2008-10-13T04:32:50Z

This ARI paper explores issues relating to literature in translation and the prospects for literature written in Spanish to enter the American market.

Theme: This ARI explores issues relating to literature in translation and the prospects for literature written in Spanish to enter the American market.

Summary: Though international publishing is one of the largest and most profitable cultural industries, literary fiction and poetry in translation from languages other than English often cannot exist without subsidies in what has become a globalised, highly competitive and commercial environment. This ARI briefly outlines the public sector initiatives that exist in Europe to promote the translation and publication of literature and what other barriers exist against translated fiction, especially in the UK. It then comments on the example of Spanish publishing in the US, the new trend whereby US publishers bring out titles in English and Spanish simultaneously, instead of importing the Spanish titles from a Spanish publishing house, thus making a link with e-book technology and online publishing. In a future e-publishing industry, local publishing houses could also offer the books in different languages online, without the need to sell the e-rights to foreign publishing houses.


Literature in Translation and Initiatives to Promote it
The publishing sector is a highly commercial one, but ‘literature’ is also an art form; literature can provide readers with a unique insight into the past and present of a culture, as well as aiding the recognition of common concerns and a shared heritage, and in this way promote intercultural understanding.

Literary fiction and poetry in translation often cannot exist without subsidies in what has become a highly competitive, commercial global environment. This applies especially to the translation of literatures written in languages other than those that are widely spoken, outside the Anglo-American mainstream.

The UK and the US are the most interesting and most difficult markets into which to get translated, commanding as they do the lingua franca of the contemporary world. An estimated 300-500 million people across the world speak English as their first language and an estimated 1 billion as a second language. One recent estimate is that 1.9 billion people, nearly a third of the world’s population, have a basic proficiency in English. Therefore, translation into English is important as a gateway to translation into other languages, as many editors from all over the world are then be able to read the book in English and decide whether to translate it into their own languages.

Each year, 11,500 fiction books are published in the UK. The statistics from the Publishers’ Association do not, however, include data on books in translation. The only data available are figures for 2004 which indicate that approximately 1.8% of the fiction published in the UK had been translated. Compared to other European countries –12.4% in Germany, 24% in Spain and 15% in France–, the figure for the UK looks very low.

Even if at least 60% of translations in any country come from English, the fact that the remaining 40% are translated from other languages implies a much healthier, larger and diverse origin than the 1.8% of total translations into English (source: Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels / Ministry of Culture Spain / French Institute London, Alexandra Buchler Report – Making Literature Travel).

English language readers grow up reading nothing but English-language publications; readers in the rest of the world have always grown up reading translations.

In the US the situation is similar: the 23 April 2006 edition of the New York Times, in an article by Dinitia Smith on PEN World Voices: The New York Festival of International Literature, revealed an unsurprising but nonetheless distressing fact: ‘Andrew Grabois, the senior director of the R.R. Bowker company, which keeps track of publishing industry figures, said this week that of the 185,000 books printed in English in the United States in 2004, only 874 were adult literature in translation’.

Translation constitutes an added cost in the process of publishing a book. Most European countries operate programmes that promote their national literature abroad and encourage its translation, as well as supporting their own publishers in bringing international literature to local readers. The grant-giving organisations outlined below aim to help promote a country’s own literature abroad, increasing the international knowledge of that country’s culture. These grants also have an economic purpose in fostering trade and helping the country’s home book industry.

The Spanish Ministry of Culture provides aid for publishers to finance the cost of translation of literary or scientific works by Spanish authors originally written and published in any of Spain’s official languages. The beneficiaries are Spanish or foreign publishers. In France, a programme was launched in 1993 by the Literature Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that gives direct funding to publishers to assist with promotional or translation costs via the Bureau du Livre (part of the French Embassy) in London. It can complement translation subsidies given by the Centre National du Livre. The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature exists to promote interest in Dutch-language literature abroad; and the list goes on… The beneficiaries of these grants are foreign publishers: some countries subsidise up to 70% of the translation costs.

As English is the most difficult language into which to get translated and published, there are many initiatives from other European countries that are tailor-made for UK publishers and literary agents, regularly informing them of new books and reviews published in those countries. Among the journals and special magazines aimed at UK publishers to keep them informed is New Books in German (published since 1996), a twice-yearly journal aimed chiefly at busy British and American editors who would like to publish more translations but who appreciate independent help in finding the right titles from among the thousands published each year in German.

Another initiative is French Book News, an electronic newsletter sent to publishers, libraries and others, with news about books published in France and information about grants, etc. The newsletter is published by the Cultural Service of the French Embassy under the direction of the Cultural Counsellor.

The on-line promotional magazine New Spanish Books (Spanish Trade Mission – ICEX, operated by the Economic and Commercial Office department at the Embassy in the UK) was created following the German model in 2006. The number of translations in the UK of books in Spanish (from Spain or Latin America) has increased, according to the Director of New Spanish Books, by 50%, from 63 in 2004 to 93 in 2007; of these, 26 are ‘classics’ and 67 ‘contemporary works’.

The EU encourages cultural cooperation among its member states and candidate countries by providing partial financial support for projects. EU spending on culture has traditionally been considered unacceptably low by cultural operators around Europe. Funding for projects in the area of books and reading, and especially support for the publishing of translations, is also considered low, both in real terms and as a proportion of the overall expenditure of the programme.

The changes which have influenced international publishing in the past decade –globalisation and the centralisation of bookselling to name just two– have had a profound impact on the publishing of literature in translation. The ethos has changed at the very core of the publishing business and one simple rule seems to apply across the board: every single title has to make a profit. In a market the size of the UK or US, this means selling at least 20,000 copies, while most foreign titles, unless they are by established names, are published with a print run of approximately 2,000.

The cost of translation is often cited as a factor inhibiting the publication of greater print runs. It cannot be denied that translated work does incur higher costs than work originally written in English but these costs have to be considered alongside the fact that translated books are often published on relatively low advances. There is also a large infrastructure of grants available, as outlined above, to offset the original investments.

The other argument frequently voiced against publishing translations relates to the cultural insularity or ‘little England-ism’ of the reading public and publishers. The reasons for this could be historical, as this attitude is influenced by the dominance of English as a world language over the last century. Linked to this is the fact that language teaching in the UK is often considered poor, leading to less study of works by foreign authors and less intellectual curiosity about other cultures.

The Bilingual Publishing Trend in the US
Spanish is the second most commonly used language in the US after English. According to the 2006 American Community Survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by over 34 million people aged five or older. The US is home to more than 40 million Hispanics, making it the world’s fifth-largest Spanish-speaking community after Mexico, Colombia, Spain and Argentina.

A little over a decade ago, Spanish-language books occupied the smallest slice of shelf space at bookstores around the country. But the 2000 census and its revelations about the fast-growing Hispanic population sparked renewed interest among US publishing houses in meeting the reading wishes of Spanish speakers. Then came Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, which not only shot up the international charts but quickly became one of the best-selling translations into Spanish of all time. While successful Spanish-language titles in the US typically sell between 15,000 and 20,000 copies, more than 300,000 copies of El Código Da Vinci were scooped off bookstore shelves across the land, ushering in what some described as a new era for Spanish-language books in America.

Now publishers are starting to time the release of English and Spanish versions so they coincide. Best-selling translations have helped the book market overall by alerting readers to the broadening selection of Spanish titles available at their local bookstores.

That was when several major US publishers began establishing divisions to cultivate new Hispanic talent and focus on the sale of both Spanish-language books and English books geared for the Hispanic market. About that time, large chain booksellers began hiring Spanish book-buyers to study market demographics and expand their Libros en Español sections. Publishers from Spain were for many years the only players serving the Hispanic market. But now they are competing with US houses for new authors and translation rights.

The Technological Revolution in the Publishing Sector
As technology advances –and the ‘eReader’ and the ‘Kindle’ are on the market since last year– the publishing industry will change dramatically. The elements needed are: a device that makes reading pleasurable; content at the right price; a great selection of content; and e-books that are easy to use.

On the face of it, an e-book is an attractive proposition, not least because it can offer features difficult or impossible to find in a printed book, such as hyperlinks, multimedia content, cut and paste, high degrees of interactivity and updated content. It can be downloaded and read instantly, and publishers do not have to transport huge volumes of books around the country and store them in warehouses.

E-book sales statistics for April 2008 have been released by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which collects them, as does the International Digital Publishers Forum ( Trade e-book sales totalled US$3,400,000 in April 2008, a 19.9% increase over April 2007.

Paper remains the best medium for text reading, and until recently it has been hard to offer similar clarity on a screen. But the development of e-ink technology, which uses millions of black and white microcapsules on a screen, from the E-ink Corporation, has dramatically improved text on a screen. Sony’s Reader uses e-ink and the company says its battery will last for up to 7,500 page turns.

So who is using e-books at this moment? Leaving aside database-type products and technical manuals, the answer is: a wide range of readers. ‘All major publishers have e-books, and that includes front catalogue as well as back catalogue. Around 60 to 70% of the New York Times bestseller list is available in e-book form’, says Nick Bogaty, executive director of the International Digital Publishers Forum (IDPF).

Will literature in translation benefit from the technological revolution? Literature in translation works well from English into other languages (but not so well the other way round) and between minority languages.

If e-books become available for sale on publishers’ websites, they could be directly published in several languages, especially in English, without the need to sell the rights to foreign or UK/US publishing houses. This applies at least to the e-rights; the printed rights could be sold as before, to foreign publishing houses.

Just as American publishers have become aware of an audience that reads in Spanish, and created strategies to publish bestsellers simultaneously in English and Spanish, acquiring those rights instead of importing them from Spain, I believe the technological revolution in the publishing industry could follow the same example. A Spanish publishing house could publish an e-book in the industry’s major languages and sell it directly from its website or specially-devised portal to the whole world without the need to sell the translation rights to other publishers in different countries.

This would enormously increase the potential for books written in minority languages to be made available to all.

Conclusion: France, Spain and Germany far outstrip the UK in terms of providing international literary exchange, cooperation and translation.

I have tried to outline the main reasons why the amount of literature in translation is so low in the UK: historical and cultural reasons; Britain’s deep-seated cultural parochialism; and the power of the English language, as the major language in the global context, which is also partly reflected in conglomerations of publishers and booksellers.

I have outlined European governments’ existing initiatives to improve the situation, eg, subsidies from other countries, information bulletins and literary prizes. But why are publishers operating in the UK market still reluctant? Perhaps it is not a cost issue at all: the money seems to be there.

If it is not the cost issue as such that prevents literature in translation being widely accepted in Britain, perhaps the reason is cultural.

One of the main reasons why the EU aims to foster the process of cultural exchange and the promotion of European literature in other languages is as a reaction to the growing influence of Americanisation. On the one hand the promotion of literature in translation is designed to foster the idea that we share common human values; on the other hand, it is intended to draw attention to and preserve the illusion of regional identities and distinctions. One of the reasons why Britain is relatively indifferent to the idea of acknowledging cultural difference –as reflected in foreign literature– may be that it does not interpret globalisation as a threat. The long-standing British indifference to foreign languages as American English asserted itself as the language of international commerce, has transformed itself into the ‘worship’ of multi-culturalism. It could be that ‘multi-culturalism’ provides the illusion of ‘otherness’ –one argument could be ‘who needs to read the English translation from a Spanish or Italian novel when you can read Salman Rushdie or Zadie Smith writing in the original?’–.

British cultural insularity may well be eroded as younger generations become increasingly exposed to European culture through education –including foreign literature in the school curriculum– and through exchanges and travelling. The EU’s cultural agenda is likely to involve raising the profile of translators, with grants and awards encouraging quality and increased activity. Even with all these developments, literature in translation will still have a long and bumpy road towards achieving significant acceptance in the UK.

As books become cheaper to produce and to distribute, with technological advances (and although the need for physical distribution will still remain in many cases), the e-book and e-reader open up the possibility of on-line publishing, whereby literature in translation might not need foreign partners but can instead be sold directly by the publishing house to readers globally –regulations permitting–.

Cristina Fuentes La Roche
Director of the Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias and Programming Director of the Hay Festival Segovia

<![CDATA[ Still a World to be Won: An Outline of Today’s Cultural Diplomacy in the Netherlands (ARI) ]]> 2008-10-10T03:18:54Z

This ARI describes the recent developments in the Netherlands’ international cultural relations. To what extent can it be said that the governmental and many non-governmental players practice deliberate, targeted, well-coordinated cultural diplomacy?

Theme: This ARI describes the recent developments in the Netherlands’ international cultural relations. To what extent can it be said that the governmental and many non-governmental players practice deliberate, targeted, well-coordinated cultural diplomacy?

Summary: The practice of both diplomacy and international cultural relations is being increasingly influenced by the effects on Dutch society of globalisation, immigration and the changing geopolitical situation. So far these two trends have run in parallel, but they both make a tighter arts and heritage policy possible in the form of cultural diplomacy. For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this trend makes it imperative to justify its conduct in the world, also in terms of domestic policy, and for the arts and heritage sector to justify the financial support it receives from public funds. Thus the actors in both areas are forced –in a positive sense– to work with one another: together they can develop a new way of thinking and policy framework and put it into practice.


The Netherlands: The Multicultural Drama and the First Political Assassination since that of William of Orange
The year 2000 saw the publication of an essay by the influential political commentator Paul Scheffer, entitled ‘The Multicultural Drama’, in which he noted that although the Netherlands had been an immigration country for decades, new populations, especially from Islamic countries such as Morocco and Turkey, had completely failed to integrate. He called for a halt to the ‘politically correct’ denial of extremist tendencies in the Islamic community, for people not just to live alongside one another but to work towards solutions in an open, frank dialogue. His essay caused a fierce public debate.

This had scarcely died down when the populist politician Pim Fortuyn was murdered in 2002 –and in the grounds of a public radio station– by an environmental activist. It was the first political assassination in this country since Balthasar Geraedts shot Prince William of Orange on the doorstep of his Delft home in 1587. The Netherlands was in shock.

The country was shocked yet again in 2004, this time by the murder of the film maker and columnist Theo van Gogh, by a man of Moroccan origin living in Amsterdam. The killing was carried out as a ritual sacrifice. The assassin’s motive was directly traceable to a film pamphlet, Submission 1, which Van Gogh had made in collaboration with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch MP of Somali origin. The short film, broadcast on national public television, was intended as an indictment of the suppression of women under Islam and at the same time as a deliberately provocative manifesto. The argument was illustrated by texts from the Koran on naked women’s bodies. It was far from being a high-quality artistic product. That it would result in angry Letters to the Editor, many of them from Muslim women themselves, or in taking them to court, was only to be expected; but that it should be taken as a motive for murder dumbfounded the whole right-minded Dutch population.

The Netherlands has lost its innocence –that was also the reaction of the stunned foreign press, which over a relatively short space of time had been presented with an X-ray of Dutch society that left nothing to the imagination–. What had happened to the familiar tolerant, harmonious, progressive, dynamic country on the North Sea? We have had a violent awakening. The Netherlands, which liked to see itself as a ‘guiding light’ in the world, had to reinvent itself. It went into self-analysis, as it were.

The latest event that has won us the doubtful honour of making the world press is the appearance on the Internet of the film Fitna in 2008. Our embassies in the Islamic world were placed on high alert as a precaution. Fitna is an amateurish piece of hackwork, devoid of talent, by the right-wing populist Dutch MP Geert Wilders. The message is simple and crude: the Koran incites to violence (it goes without saying that his cut-and-paste job does not fail to include the still shocking images of the Twin Towers collapsing). The government immediately repudiated the message of Fitna. Meanwhile, the Public Prosecution Service has rejected all charges against Wilders of discrimination against and deliberate insult to Muslims. While his many rabid statements in the House of Representatives and his video clip are hurtful, they do not constitute criminal offences, given ‘the context of the public debate’, according to the ruling.

As we can see from the foregoing, when politicians use the medium of art to disseminate their opinions there are two losers: politics and art. It is not the purpose of art to proclaim a message. As the Dutch poet Gerrit Komrij aptly put it, ‘Art is not a donkey for carrying parcels but a swan’. Bad art is thus, by definition, bad cultural diplomacy as well.

New Parameters for More Intensive Public Diplomacy
Before the upheaval that marked the start of the new millennium, the thrust of public diplomacy was mainly to explain Dutch policy on ethical questions such as euthanasia and abortion, gay marriage and toleration of soft drugs. This progressive policy was little known or understood in many countries, even in Western Europe. The unjust image of the Netherlands as a cold laboratory of social ethics was and still is in need of correction. Recently, however, fresh issues have been added to the list, the most important ones being our restrictive immigration policy, the difficulty we are experiencing with integrating the Muslim community in particular, our approach to extremism, and freedom of expression versus deliberate attempts to hurt those of other beliefs. These are all social problems that are not confined to the Netherlands, and they can only be solved internationally, starting in Europe. In a nutshell, they call not for diplomacy in the form of detailed explanations of how (and how well) we do things but for close cooperation and exchange with governmental and non-governmental bodies in countries with similar problems and with the countries of origin, eg, Morocco and Turkey. In recent years the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stepped up its public diplomacy campaign, taking these issues on board, and it is developing a more strategic approach to International Cultural Policy in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Art and heritage can thus announce themselves as serious ‘tools’ in Dutch cultural diplomacy, albeit it is still in its infancy.

An Outline of International Cultural Policy
Most Western European countries with a major cultural tradition have a dense network of cultural centres in the rest of the world. The Netherlands has only three. The oldest is the Institut Néerlandais in Paris, which dates back to 1957. Then came the Erasmus House in Jakarta, in 1980, which places a contemporary stamp on the strong, but also complex, historical ties with Indonesia from the colonial era. Its aim is to preserve the shared cultural heritage, and it hosts exhibitions, concerts and literary encounters. Along with the local embassy it also organises cultural collaboration and exchange between the two countries (a total of 65 Dutch-based arts and heritage activities in 2007). More than 20 years after the Flemish cultural centre De Brakke Grond was opened in Amsterdam, 2004 saw the opening of the Flemish-Dutch centre deBuren. Flanders and the Netherlands, strongly linked –but also to some extent separated– by language and culture, have thus created a cultural platform in the European capital.

It has never gone any further than these three. The Scientific Council for Government Policy recommended setting up new cultural institutions in Cologne, London and New York in the mid-1980s, but nothing has come of it. Nor is the commemoration in 2009 of the foundation of New York (New Amsterdam) by ‘our’ Henry Hudson expected to bring the revamped plan for a Holland House in the city any closer to realisation: the cost is thought to be simply too high and out of proportion to the anticipated effect on cultural presence and exchange. The government prefers to use its ever scarce resources more flexibly. How does that look like? This question has still not received a satisfactory answer.

Better Policy Coordination for the Past 10 Years
It was only in the mid-1990s that the Netherlands developed a more coordinate international cultural relations policy, beginning with a reorganisation of foreign policy itself. The Fall of the Wall demanded a radical rethink of our relationship with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in particular. A major reorganisation of our diplomatic presence in the world took place. The Netherlands focused on strengthening its position in the European integration process, a striking feature of the operation being the aim of allowing culture to play a more important role in foreign policy. The seriousness of this intention was shown by the fact that this time, for the first time in history, a substantial additional budget was set aside for it. The money, referred to as the Netherlands Culture Fund (part of HGIS, the Homogeneous Budget for International Cooperation) was released as a result of the reorganisation operation.

It was decided, moreover, to settle the dispute between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science as to which of them has competence for International Cultural Policy. The two Ministries have fought for supremacy in this field for decades. The Foreign Affairs Ministry regarded culture as part of foreign policy. The Education Ministry considered it to be an extension of national cultural policy, thus falling within its area of operation and expertise. These ‘instrumental’ and ‘intrinsically artistic’ views respectively seemed to be mutually exclusive. It was therefore decided in 1997 that the two Ministries should spend the additional funds in proper consultation on two main objectives:



(1) Strengthening the international profile of Dutch arts and culture
(2) Promoting good mutual relations with certain countries

This reflected a sincere intention to combine intrinsically cultural and foreign policy elements: in other words, culture should be a fully-fledged third key element in foreign policy, alongside politics and economics. The Foreign Affairs Ministry used this financial boost to strengthen its Culture Department in 13 priority areas. The Education Ministry delegated the funds to the national Cultural Funds and Sector Institutes, in line with the arm’s-length principle which was applied throughout the sector at the beginning of the 1990s. An official committee of the two Ministries made recommendations directly to the respective Ministers on large-scale events. And the two Ministries set up an exchange scheme for civil servants to improve one another’s expertise in this joint area of activity.

International Cultural Policy: Some Key Figures
For a small country it is fair to say that the Netherlands is particularly active in the arts. The number of recorded foreign activities by artists and arts institutions went up by 20% in 2007 compared with 2006, 4,572 as against 3,673. This multiplicity of activities covers all the arts and cultural heritage, taking place in over 50 countries throughout the world. Music is by far the most active sector abroad, accounting for some 35% of activities; visual arts and cinema account for about 15% each; theatre, dance and literature for about 35% together; the remaining 15% of activities are in the fields of architecture, design, multimedia, photography and heritage.

As regards geographical distribution, our neighbour Germany is well in the lead with 790 activities, followed by the US (468), Belgium (316), France (302), Italy (267), Austria (191), the UK (176), Japan (143), Spain (138) and Poland (118).

A strong climber in the league table is China, in 11th place with 99 activities (as against 66 in 2006, 40 in 2005 and 21 in 2004). (Source of key figures: The explanation for China’s rise, now under Dutch International Cultural Policy, is very simple, namely the Netherlands China Arts Foundation, which was recently set up by the two Ministries involved and aims to intensify cultural relations between the two countries. They have given the Foundation a start-up grant to mobilise the arts field to begin cooperating or develop existing contacts with Chinese artists and arts organisations. This deliberate focus on a particular country for foreign policy and economic reasons is a new and very recent feature of International Cultural Policy.

Two Major Turning Points on the Path to Cultural Diplomacy Policy
The shocking socio-political events of recent years have had a lasting influence on ideas about the importance of culture in diplomacy. There are also two projects that have given a strong impetus to the new practice of cultural diplomacy and thinking on that subject.

The Netherlands held the Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2004. An innovation in International Cultural Policy, and a major turning point on the path to cultural diplomacy, was the project ‘Thinking Forward’, under which programmatic heading a comprehensive contemporary arts programme was held in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe joining the EU, and by those countries in the Netherlands. How did this innovation come about? It was an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with clear and distinct foreign policy objectives. In consultation with the Education Ministry the Ministry asked the Fonds voor de Podiumkunsten (Performing Arts Fund) to arrange an arts programme with the Mondriaan Foundation. There was no interference whatsoever on matters of content: they were given carte blanche. A budget of around €2 million was provided. The result was over 90 theatre and dance events, concerts, exhibitions, debates and lectures in all the new Member States and the Netherlands. In a very short space of time the Director and his artistic team managed to more than double the budget from sponsorship and grants from the arts bodies themselves. This was a turning point, especially as it showed that it was perfectly possible to reconcile foreign policy interests and intrinsically artistic processes with one another, to their mutual benefit. The evaluation of this large-scale project produced a remarkable conclusion from the arts sector, that more could have been achieved in diplomatic terms, had it not been for reticence on the part of the politicians.

Another turning point, of a reflective nature, was the publication in 2005 of a collection of essays, ‘All that Dutch’, an initiative of the Service Centre for International Cultural Activities (SICA), in which art professionals, academics, politicians and policy-makers gave their undiluted and strikingly unanimous opinion on the state of Dutch International Cultural Policy. What it boiled down to was this: the Netherlands has turned in on itself, partly as a result of recent political developments; it is not taking sufficient account of globalisation and the changing geopolitical situation in the world; the arts are not sufficiently engaging with present-day social reality, which is a local reflection of global change; as a result they are in danger of losing their position in the international vanguard; a whole lot of activities are taking place in a whole lot of foreign countries, but it is a mere volley, not very effective and lacking a long-term strategic plan. And it was from the unimpeachable quarter of the art professionals that the most remarkable observation came:





‘Dare to make choices, you people in government! Be more explicit when setting priorities in your policy, and it’s OK to base them on purely foreign policy considerations. The art world and politics have had their backs to one another for too long. It’s high time for the former to pay more attention to the real world and the latter to develop more genuine interest in what the muses can do.’

A direct result of the publication was the 2006 policy statement by the two Ministries, Koers Kiezen (‘Setting a Course’). For the first time International Cultural Policy gained a strategic component, and the development of cultural diplomacy thus began.

The Main Players in the Field of Cultural Diplomacy
In addition to the two Ministries, the Council for Culture plays a role in the development of broad policy as an advisory body to the government. In turn it bases its analyses and recommendations partly on those of the Funds and Sector Institutes, which operate close to the grass roots, as grant-giving bodies and specialist service and research centres for artists and arts institutions in all fields. By far the largest Funds are those for the performing arts, visual arts and cinema, but those for literature and architecture, although their budgets are modest, are just as influential in their fields. The main Sector Institutes are those for theatre and dance (Theater Instituut Nederland), all genres of music (het Nederlands Muziekcentrum) and architecture (the Netherlands Architecture Institute). The function of Sector Institute for the visual arts is fulfilled, where necessary, by the two Funds, the Mondriaan Foundation for museums and art galleries and the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture for individual artists. Most of these Funds and Institutes took on their present form in the past two decades. They play a vital role in artistic life in the Netherlands and the presentation of Dutch art abroad. They are the organisations that document and actively maintain the extensive national and international networks in the various arts.

A relative newcomer to the field of cultural diplomacy is the Dutch Centre for International Cultural Activities (SICA). Founded at the end of the 1990s, this small, flexible organisation has rapidly developed into an indispensable connecting link between the two Ministries involved, and their sources of funding, and the arts field. To begin with, SICA is the service and documentation centre for all arts institutions wishing to have an international presence. It also advises the government on strategic international cultural policy, however, and implements this policy in close collaboration with the Funds, Sector Institutes and embassies. SICA is the ‘nerve centre’ and the liaison officer between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its cultural attachés at the missions and the arts sector.

Agenda for the Period Ahead
We are now awaiting a new policy statement from the Ministries. SICA, speaking for the arts sector among others, has already fired a substantial shot across their bows: in a letter to the two Ministers it calls, among other things, for them to create more scope in their policy for ‘a pioneering spirit, based on concern for the world, curiosity about the new geopolitical situation, engagement, and realisation that the Dutch public debate will remain infertile without an illuminating encounter and exchange with other cultures and their values’. It stresses the importance of reciprocity, ie, more scope for international presentations in the Netherlands as well as presenting our splendid arts abroad. It calls for the integration of current development assistance policy with international cultural policy to create effective, sustainable cultural diplomacy. It wants Dutch policy to tie in better with the European cultural agenda by continuing to invest in bilateral and multilateral programmes and developing activities with European countries and regions. It asks for a multi-annual programme to be developed with the Mediterranean and Arab world so as to strengthen cultural contacts and improve the image of the Netherlands, which has come under pressure from recent political and social developments. As regards the tools to be used, the arts sector urges the deployment of a ‘cultural assistance pool’ from among its own ranks to strengthen the embassies and enable them to operate jointly and even more flexibly in those places in the world where this is necessary.

Conclusion: In the foregoing I have described how the far-reaching social and political events in the Netherlands have deeply affected both the world of diplomacy and that of the arts. Both of them are now displaying much more social concern. In response they have also become more involved with one another. The old dividing line between intrinsically cultural processes and foreign policy interests has been largely swept away as a result of specific shared experiences, and strategic International Cultural Policy is developing into a form of cultural diplomacy, albeit still in its infancy. The many players in this complex field now face the task of developing these experiences and embedding them in a sustainable policy for the years ahead. The first hurdle that needs to be tackled is the difference in culture between the two Ministries. The strict hierarchy of the Foreign Affairs Ministry is diametrically opposed to the open-minded network organisation of the arts ruled over by the Education Ministry. But taking that hurdle requires something of those concerned that is a prerequisite for cultural diplomacy anyway, intercultural competence.

Ben Hurkmans
Senior Visiting Fellow, Clingendael Diplomacy Studies Programme



<![CDATA[ Language and Immigration: An Analysis of the Development of Linguistic Requirements in Immigration Policy (WP) ]]> 2008-05-10T01:58:00Z

What relationship exists between language and migratory patterns? What is the role of language in flows of immigrants and in immigration policies? Is it advantageous for an immigrant to know the language of the host country? These and other questions are at the heart of this reflection on the relationship between the language an immigrant speaks and the dominant language of the host country.


What relationship exists between language and migratory patterns? What is the role of language in flows of immigrants and in immigration policies? Is it advantageous for an immigrant to know the language of the host country? These and other questions are at the heart of this reflection on the relationship between the language an immigrant speaks and the dominant language of the host country.This paper first examines the theories that have included language as being among factors to keep in mind in the study of migratory movements as a demographic phenomenon. It then looks at the relationship between language and immigration policies in countries in which immigrants settle with the goal of staying more or less permanently.


What relationship exists between language and migratory patterns? What is the role of language in flows of immigrants and in immigration policies? Is it advantageous for an immigrant to know the language of the host country? These and other questions are at the heart of this reflection on the relationship between the language an immigrant speaks and the dominant language of the host country. At first glance, it would seem that learning the language of the country in which an immigrant is beginning a new life is an issue or concern that only involves immigrants in their voluntary process of uprooting themselves; if they do not know the language of the host country beforehand, learning it will be part of their project of starting anew in another country.

However, in these early years of the 21st century it is becoming increasingly clear in both social and political debate in host countries that the issue of immigrants learning or mastering the language is not something that affects them only. The language that immigrants speak is no longer a personal issue. Rather, it has become a public policy goal in host countries and thus an area where governments are active.

This paper first examines the theories that have included language as being among factors to keep in mind in the study of migratory movements as a demographic phenomenon. It then looks at the relationship between language and immigration policies in countries in which immigrants settle with the goal of staying more or less permanently.

The study of the development of the relationship between language and immigration policy centres on the analysis of different government tools or formulas that feature linguistic requirements of foreigners in the host country. The analysis shows that ‘traditionally’ two systems are used: one based on points to evaluate knowledge of language, or examinations to require this of immigrants headed to or living in a country that is not their own. A comparative approach is used in this analysis of ‘traditional’ formulas or tools and variations introduced more recently. The review of countries and their methods does not take in all those which receive immigration. Rather, we highlight those which best illustrate the features of the formulas that are employed.

Language and Migratory Flows

Among the models used to explain large–scale migratory movements, one of the best known is the push–pull factors model. It seeks to explain international migration by identifying the degree of influence of factors that push the population of certain territories abroad and those which pull people towards other countries.[1] The combination of the two kinds of factors becomes the explanation of international migratory processes.

Other models, taking a neo–classical economic approach, say it is necessary to broaden the field of observation to other factors. The idea here is that one must address not only the structural situation in which immigration occurs, as in the push–pull factors model, but also cost–benefit decisions and calculations that individuals themselves make when they take part in migrations. This approach has given rise to a variety of micro–economic models that seek not only to explain the decision to migrate but also the consideration of alternative destinations by people who want to make such a journey. Among the variables that take into account in their decisions and calculations, highlights include not just those which are intrinsically economic, such as salary, but also the cost of the journey in terms of time and money, the expected cost of finding a job, the effort required to adapt to the host country, including learning a new language or culture, and the psychological cost of leaving behind family and friends.

Following these models, a common language or the existence of linguistic communities in the host country[2] is one of the factors that help explain the direction of migratory flows. Therefore, knowing or sharing a language is valued as one of the luring factors that draw migratory flows toward a particular country. In other words, the language that is spoken in a country is one of the features that a person willing to migrate takes into account when it comes to selecting a destination. To the contrary, linguistic differences must be seen as a factor which deters or has a negative influence in choosing a host nation.

From an historical standpoint it is not easy to determine the relative weight of language issues in population movements. If we consider contemporary migration, language seems to take on importance when special links between territories give rise to feelings of historical closeness or kinship, and manifest themselves through streamlined legal procedures for obtaining nationality. Such is the case of the countries of the Commonwealth, but also those of Iberoamerica and Spain.[3] Language thus becomes a factor of attraction, along with favourable legal procedures, for citizens of those territories when it comes to deciding to travel and settle in a new place.

To date, few comparative studies have been carried out on the importance of language among the different factors identified; in other words, its relative weight in choosing a destination. The European Commission published one such study in 2000. It analysed two aspects of the pre–migration process: the choice of a destination country, and the stated reasons for emigrating that were given by recent arrivals from the south and east of the Mediterranean (Turkey, Morocco and Egypt) and from sub–Saharan Africa (Senegal and Ghana). In both decisions (which country to choose and whether to migrate there) one of the factors that those interviewed called influential was the existence of a common language. However, its relevance was less than that of other motivations such as strictly financial ones or the presence of relatives in host countries.[4]

The situation is different if the only difference between countries being considered as destinations for emigration is one of language. In that case, having a common language does seem to determine the final choice. Thus, language does seem to be one of the reasons for the failure of a recruitment drive for information technology workers that Germany launched under the then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 1999; that year, Germany offered 20,000 visas to lure such workers. Most IT workers who heeded the call of developed countries were of Indian origin, and they opted for the UK and the US, which at the time also needed them to boost economic growth. The reason given for choosing these two countries and not Germany was the common language.[5]

The results of these studies suggests that language can act as a selective factor, once other weightier factors are eliminated and when choosing is possible, within the range of attractive, potential destinations. It can be said that all other conditions being equal, emigrants choose countries where they know the language.

Language Requirements in ‘Traditional’ Tools of Migratory Policy and their Recent Variations

As opposed to migrants, the other side of the migratory process is made up of the host countries. A small number of them have traditionally featured language as an aspect of their migratory policies. Table 1 shows two kinds of tools which, until a few decades ago, were the most commonly used in the immigration policies of developed countries that were recipients of immigration. The goal was to evaluate the knowledge of immigrants or potential emigrants about the language of the society in which they wish to live or of which they want to be citizens. One important question, which allows to differentiate between the methods used, is the nature of the language test that the immigrant takes. There are two possibilities: that government policies welcome knowledge of the language of the host country, or that they require a certain level of skill in it.

Table 1. ‘Traditional’ formulas for incorporating the language factor into migration policies of host countries

Stage in migratory process


Features of Test


Before arriving

Points systen

Evaluation of language level/ Obligation to reach a certain level of skill

To select those best placed to fill job vacancies in the country

After arriving

Test of linguistic knowledge

Obligation to reach a certain level of linguistic skil

Selection/Immigrants showing they can fit in in order to obtain citizenship

Source: the author.

In the first case, evaluations of language skills are done with points–based systems right when emigrants seek entry; that is to say, usually before they set out for the host country. These are mechanisms related to the obtaining of visas, or work permits in the case of foreigners not required to have a visa. The goal is to select the most qualified workers for the job market. In the second method, knowing the language of the host country is established as an absolute obligation, either as a required part of the points system or one of the requirements an immigrant must fulfil in order to gain certain rights, usually the ones stemming from citizenship, and therefore to obtain the nationality of the host country.

Both methods are under discussion and evolving these days. This is due not only to changes that are expected in countries that traditionally used them and now seem headed towards broadening the circumstances under which language knowledge is required to stages other than those of pre–arrival and when an immigrant is up for citizenship; it is also due to the geographic extension of these formulas and their adoption by countries which did not use them in the past and which are now planning or in the process of creating ‘new versions’ or pre–requisites regarding knowledge of the country’s language.

Here we will examine the origin and recent evolution of the two aforementioned methods (language evaluation/obligation of knowing the language through a points–based system, and mandatory language tests for acquiring citizenship).

Language in the Points–based Systems of Host Countries
Points–based systems were conceived as a way to select potential immigrants, and in them points are assigned for a person’s linguistic knowledge. The logic behind adopting a points–based system is that there an ‘overabundance’ of potential immigrants, which points a host country in the position of being able to choose. The total number of points scored by candidates who undergo this selection process depends not just on having a command of the language but possessing other qualities that the host country views as positive.

All points–based systems establish a series of categories for the features of the candidates -education, trade, work experience, language and age- and a minimum passing mark for gaining entry into the host country. Sometimes other evaluation criteria are included, such as the existence of a job offer or the presence of relatives in the host country, or the candidate’s having already spent time in the country. In some cases prior knowledge of the language is mandatory, while in others it is simply another factor that is taken into consideration.

The first Western countries to use these systems, Australia and Canada, are among those nations which owe their origin or formation to immigration. Canada launched the first version of its points system in 1967, more than 20 years before other countries. The next to adopt it was Australia in 1989, followed by New Zealand in 1991. All of these countries have carried out reforms of their Systems. The last was New Zealand in 2004.

Papademetriou has traced Canada’s decision to adopt a points–based system to a desire to do away with a cycle of workforce scarcity and abundance that its own economy created. In this context, the main concern was to meet demands for labourers at peak times in the economic cycle.[6] As a result of this, Canada tried to create a workforce reserve that met the needs of the Canadian economy, and at the same time improve the opportunities for ‘economic integration’ of the immigrants chosen in the screening process. Thus, in the official presentation of its points–based system New Zealand says The New Zealand Skilled Migrant points system is designed to allow preferences to be ranked in order so that the New Zealand Immigration authorities can make invitations to apply for residence to those migrants who can offer the most to New Zealand’.[7]

The Canadian system has undergone several changes since it was created in 1967.[8] As it stands now, people have to score a minimum number of points in each category in which they are evaluated. So linguistic knowledge is no longer just a component that is measured. Rather, since a reform enacted in 2001 it is a mandatory requirement. The version now in force features six factors that are measured to determine a candidate’s total number of points: education, language, work experience, age, the job offer in Canada and adaptability. For their linguistic knowledge, a person can obtain up to 24 points, the second highest of all the categories. This is one point less than the 25 granted for having the highest education level (masters or doctorate; at least 17 years of study). Canada evaluates knowledge of both of its official languages. Table 2 shows specifically how each candidate can measure their linguistic knowledge in order to calculate their points, as well as the means for testing their knowledge, including the official test.[9]

Table 2. Scale of points for linguistic knowledge in the Canadian system

First official language (English or French)


Second official language (English or French)











High level





High level





Medium level





Medium level





Basic level*





Basic level*





* Maximum of two points total for basic–level knowledge

* Maximum of two points total for basic–level knowledge

No knowledge





No knowledge





Source:, consulted 13/II/2008.

After the first reform of the system in New Zealand, the programme for immigrant workers, called General Skills, gave way to one called Skilled Migrant Category. It was designed to lure highly–qualified immigrants through a two–step procedure. In the first phase immigrants express interest and need to score more than 100 points on the test. Then they can be asked by the country to seek residence. The possibility of seeking residency directly, without waiting for an invitation from New Zealand, is offered to those who score more than 140 points or have a job offer.[10] These systems are geared towards certain classes of potential immigrants, ie workers. But the New Zealand reform shows that there is a tendency to create specific programmes for different groups of workers.

It is important to note that, despite the diversity of points–based systems for immigrant workers with different levels of skills, these countries have other immigration programmes in which people are not subjected to tests that involve scoring points. For instance, in Canada the proportion of immigrants who have to take these tests is only around a quarter of the total.[11] The other systems and entry programmes are based on uniting families, requests for asylum or refuge and schemes for temporary workers.

In the same way, Australia’s point–based system is also used for only some kinds of immigration. The country has two kinds of programmes for those seeking permanent residency: the Humanitarian programme, which is for refugees and people in a situation similar to those who are in urgent need of a place to live, and Migration programmes in three categories: one for relatives, one for skilled immigrants and a third for those with special conditions of eligibility because they have lived in the country in the past or have links with Australia. The points–based system is used for the second of these; in other words, for those who wish to enter as a skilled immigrant, either because they have a job offer, specific qualifications in the business sector that can be applied shortly after arriving, or because their profile meets expectations that the person will become a potential benefit for Australia.

The Australian points system is conceived to a large extent as a screening technique that identifies the features of potential immigrants who are going to benefit the country, but also as an integration mechanism to help them in the process of getting settled.[12] The factors and qualifications that are evaluated include the person’s command of English. Since 1993 several minor changes have been carried out in the scoring system, such as an increase in the categories of use and knowledge, and a broadening of the number of jobs for which a person’s command of English is evaluated. Since 1997, those who do not make the grade are required to pay for English lessons.

An important change in the rules for assigning points was made in 1999 when requirements were made tougher. Two categories were established -Vocational English and Competent English- and in order to pass the test the minimum required was a high level of knowledge of Vocational English. A high score was needed in four sections (writing, reading, comprehension and speaking).[13]

In two reforms carried out in 2007,[14] the requirements for knowing English became even more demanding. These days 25 points are assigned for having the Proficient English certificate. This is equivalent to a score of at least seven points in each of the four categories in the IELTS (the English tests administered by the British Council, the Universidad de Cambridge and Australia’s IDP Education department. Fifteen points are granted for having a level of Competent English. This is defined as general efficient use of English, especially in situations with which the individual is familiar. This level of competency is shown with a score of at least six points in each of the four parts of the test. There are two other cases in which 15 points can be obtained for a lesser level of English (an average of 5 on the IELTS) when the person’s application is made in specific conditions. In both cases the petitioner is required to improve his or her level of English after entering the country.[15]

Points–based Systems in Europe
These methods for selecting immigrants spread to European countries in a different context from those of the countries described so far. The goal has been to encourage the entry of certain kinds of skilled workers in situations of scarcity in some sectors of the economy. This is the case of Britain, which introduced its first version of a points–based system as part of the so–called Work Permit Scheme after the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act[16] was passed in 2002. The system was designed to be used for highly skilled people; Britain thus has its UK Highly Skilled Migrant Programme,which from now on we will refer to as HSMP.[17]

The UK is currently modifying its system of permits, which regulates 80 different ways of getting into the country. As for the points–based system, the idea is to broaden it use beyond highly skilled workers to other classes of workers, and to students. The Home office has said the current version, which is still in the process of being adopted, is the most important change in the immigration system in 45 years and that in this overhaul, officials sought to design an Australian–style points–system.[18] Paragraph 158 of the first guide, published in February 2008, states that English is the official language of the United Kingdom and that good knowledge of it improves a petitioner’s prospects for succeeding in the British labour market and in integrating.[19] The introduction of this linguistic requirement, which, like many other reforms, was announced in the Queen’s Speech, in this case in November 2007, has been harshly criticised by a variety of organisations. They have said it amounts to ‘lace curtain racism’ by favouring immigration from European countries rather than other nations.[20]

For now, the pre–requisites and scoring system have been established for the programme involving highly–skilled workers (Tier 1 General–Highly Skilled Workers).[21] In it, candidates must score at least 95 points as a pass mark, but 75 of these points must stem from their qualifications (studies, previous salaries, experience in Britain and age) 10 points from language skills and 10 points from having sufficient economic resources to be able to get by. In order to obtain 10 points in the language section, the candidate must prove, through the means spelled out in the guide, that he or she speaks English. The series of tests admitted are featured in Annex B, and by way of comparison with the Australian case, the IELTS requires a score of 6.5 to obtain those 10 points, half a point less than what Australia requires for the highest score. For now, unlike in the Australian model, the British system has no gradient in which points are assigned depending on a person’s level of knowledge of English.

Italy is another country that recently raised the idea of instituting a points–based system. Until now the country has had two channels for admitting unskilled workers. The Amato–Ferrero bill of 2007 sought to add a third; it would be for people who meet the requirements for joining the Italian labour market and society with relative ease, either currently or who might do so before entering the country. As a result of this, Italy raised the possibility of earmarking part of its entry quota to a points–based list as a way of rewarding people with training and knowledge of the Italian language.

In January 2005 the EU published a Green Book entitled On an EU Approach to Managing Economic Migration.[22] This formally launched debate on economic immigration and thus the issue of admissions procedures, with questions such as the preference for national workers, including the possibility of choosing those with certain qualifications and linguistic skills.

The US
The US is another major recipient of immigration. But in this case the relationship between language and immigration policies did not begin with a requirement that potential skilled workers have a certain level of English, but rather a ban letting in people who were illiterate. After the then President Woodrow Wilson twice vetoed instruction tests, in 1917 Congress passed a law that denied entry to anyone over age 17 who could not read in any language.[23] Massey says that although this requirement was presented as a measure to improve the ‘quality’ of immigrants, the law’s thinly veiled, real agenda was to reduce the total number of immigrants arriving from the south and east of Europe and make way for flows from countries that were traditional sources of emigration from north–western Europe, as preferred by the US Anglo–Saxon elite. In fact, the law served to reduce the arrival of Italians and Poles.[24]

In the US thorough debate is also under way on the possibility of introducing a points–based system for permanent residents in the wake of the failed attempt to reform immigration laws in 2006–2007. This reform was presented as break from the traditional method of family reunification, ie giving preference to persons with relatives already in the country -a group favoured in the US (for instance, after a reform carried out in 1965 three–quarters of visas were set aside for relatives of citizens or foreign residents[25])-, and moving to a merit–based system.[26]. However, this argument was not entirely accurate because the new system sought to give additional points to person who had relatives living in the US.[27]

The failure of reforms attempts in the Senate and a bill that went before the House of Representatives (the STRIVE Act) has meant the debate re–emerged in the election campaign, where it is expected to be a key issue. One must not forget that one of those who opposed the reform was Barack Obama, who said at one point that the bill ‘fails to recognise the fundamental morality of uniting Americans with their family members. It also places a person’s job skills over his character and work ethic’.[28]

Thus the US appears to be among the countries that reject this selection method that involves assigning points for, among other things, knowledge of the language of the host country. But it should not be forgotten that countries which do not adopt a points system often have other selection methods, which are necessary in a context in which demand to get in is greater than the supply of possibilities for getting in. Furthermore, their use by countries such as the UK goes hand in hand with a simplification of entry procedures and a streamlining of the granting of permits to persons the country needs or who are of particular benefit to the economy.

Language Skills as a Pre–requisite for Obtaining Citizenship

As commented above, the countries with the greatest migratory tradition, such as Australia, attach great importance to language learning as one of the factors that contributes to immigrants’ economic welfare and to other aspects of the host country’s economic and political life. It is even said that for adult immigrants, linguistic knowledge has benefits in terms of human capital for their children.[29] Factors such as the length of time spent residing in the host country are generally accepted as a positive influence for learning the language, and the US has even been described as a ‘language cemetery’ due to its historic capacity for absorbing millions of immigrants and see them abandon native tongues over the course of just a few generations.[30]

In most countries that take in immigrants the process of learning the language is left to the immigrant’s will or they must pay for it themselves. In some cases there comes a time when the person has to show their level of knowledge: when the immigrant is requesting citizenship. For instance, in the US, in order to become a citizen an immigrant must be over 18, have lived in the country for at least five years and pass an English and civics test that shows he or she knows things like where the White House is.

In general terms, few countries have the tradition of requiring a language test in order to obtain citizenship. In the English and civics exam given by the US, the US Citizenship and Integration Service says most immigrants pass with no problems. Data released in September 2006 showed 84% passed in their first attempt and 93% when taking the test for the second time. This shows perhaps that those seeking naturalisation possess the legally required level of linguistic knowledge: not a perfect command but rather ‘functional fluidity’ in order to communicate. An English test for foreign residents seeking citizenship has been required for the past 100 years, and the questions used in the test given in 2006 were devised in the 1986 reform.[31]

In France, since 1973 article 21.24 of the Civil Code has established that when it comes to seeking French citizenship ‘no one can be naturalised who cannot demonstrate their integration into the French community, in particular through sufficient knowledge of the French language, depending on their situation’. In 2003 the following words were added to that clause: ‘and the rights and duties that come with French citizenship’.[32] The reform carried out in 2003, when Nicolas Sarkozy was Interior Minister, grants a special role to the language requirement for obtaining citizenship, and this also applies to people who marry a French citizen. Proving knowledge of the French language also applies to refugees and stateless persons, except if they are over age 70 and have been living in the country for at least 15 years. However, this reform rules out the possibility of the government opposing granting citizenship on grounds of linguistic assimilation.

The requirement of knowing the language has its particularities in countries where more than one language is recognised as being the official one. In Switzerland, for instance, where a pre–requisite for obtaining nationality is confirmation that the person has integrated socially, it is up to the cantonal and local authorities. They are the ones which establish their own conditions for naturalization, and some require knowing the local language.[33]

In any case, taking this kind of test is voluntary. Only those who want to become citizens are obliged to take it. And naturalisation data from developed countries give an idea of the percentage of people who take on the nationality of the host country. In the US, in the 1990s estimates were that less than half of immigrants became naturalised citizens. Table 3 shows that these naturalisation figures, in a range of countries that receive foreigners as immigrants, are very low; there are very few cases and years in which the percentage of foreigners who naturalize themselves reaches 10% of the total.

Table 3. Percentage of naturalisations among the foreign population of OECD countries






Number of naturalisations 2005


















































































































New Zeland


















United Kingdom






Czech Republic
























Note: this table shows the percentage of naturalisations with respect to the total population of foreigners, but the latter varies from year to year depending not just on the naturalisations of the previous year but also on yearly migratory flows.

Source: the author, using data from International Migration Outlook, Sopemi, 2007.

Despite the low percentages of naturalisation among the foreign population, a growing tendency among the percentage of those who are naturalised should be pointed out. Table 3 shows that, with the exception of seven countries, the rest have a higher average percentage of naturalisations in the period 2001–05 than in 1995–2000. This dynamic seems to negate the effect of another trend that appears to be growing in host countries, that of toughening conditions for gaining citizenship.

The UK, for instance, which requires a basic knowledge of English, is one of the countries that are in the process of toughening its pre–requisites for gaining citizenship. The argument is that this is something which immigrants must earn. Therefore, they must go through a trial period of one to three years, during which they have demonstrate their integration or tax–paying contribution.[34]

In Germany, since the mid–1990s there seems to have been a trend towards accepting that it is a country of immigration, and a fledgling policy that seeks to make it easier to obtain citizenship.[35] Until the first federal law on integration came into force in January 2005, it was German states which had exclusive jurisdiction over naturalisation. Each one regulated it in their own way, not without frequent controversies. One of these worth pointing out happened in late 2005 when the state of Baden–Wurttemberg made a proposal for immigrants from Muslim countries to pass a test in order to become naturalised German citizens. This test featured not only linguistic but also axiomatic and behavioural issues. The idea was criticised because it was mandatory only for Muslims and did not take into account a person’s level of familiarity with Germany or their potential for adapting to their new country.

Since 2006, federal legislation requires that all those who seek naturalisation must pass language and naturalisation tests.[36] In May of this year, a conference of Interior Ministers agreed to give the country’s 16 states leeway for deciding how to evaluate language skills and knowledge of German values. Some of these Länder oblige immigrants to pass costly written exams that require a high level of linguistic knowledge.[37]

In Sweden, the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) launched a new immigration policy in August 2002 that also affected access to citizenship. The most controversial proposal, considered key in the party’s election victory a month later, was to introduce a test for those seeking citizenship, in order for them to show they some skills in speaking and understanding the Swedish language.[38] One of the advocates of the proposal called it a ‘categorical break’ with Sweden’s policy on nationality. For this person, ‘rescuing the value of the Swedish language as a common tool of communications was tantamount to indirectly rescuing the value of the legacy of Swedish history and saying that it is on the basis of this history, rather than its denial, that we can build a common future’.[39]

In Denmark, in late 2005 the government of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen introduced a test of language skills, culture and history for immigrants seeking to be nationalized, and so far 97% of those who take it pass.[40] Denmark, Germany and Austria have the toughest requirements for obtaining citizenship, according to the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX).

Other countries have only changed the means through which language skills are measured; tests take the place of personal interviews. Such is the case of Australia; there, in 2007, after a process of consultation to evaluate replacing interviews with tests, a new law was approved (the Australian Citizenship Amendment [Citizenship Testing] Act 2007)[41] which requires candidates to pass this test to obtain citizenship. It states that language and citizenship tests are the only way for the minister to be sure that the petitioner has a basic knowledge of English, the country itself and the responsibilities and privileges that this status entails.

As stated earlier, while some advocate toughening the requirements for obtaining citizenship, critics have also emerged. Many of the proposals have been criticised as in different sectors as xenophobic, anti–immigrant or racist. However, despite this opposition, it is true that trends are forming: to include a language test among the pre–requisites for gaining citizenship, or to toughen the requirements in the countries where these kinds of tests already exist.

New Linguistic Tools and Requirements in Countries that Take in Immigrants

Along with the methods described in earlier sections, host countries seem to attach more and more importance to the question of language. They are establishing new language–related requirements in different stages of the process of settlement or integration, or new tools designed to ensure that immigrants know the local language. Once again language emerges as a factor that contributes to successful integration into the labour market.

In the EU, language has also been recognised as an essential element in the process of integrating immigrants. Since the Commission Statement on a common EU immigrant policy was issued 22 November 2000,[42] followed by its statement on an open method of coordinating EU policy on immigration on 11 July 2001,[43] different projects have focused on integration, such as the statement on immigration, integration and employment, on 3 June 2003.[44]

The importance of language in the process of integration featured specifically in the Common Basic Principles (CBP) on Integration. Its fourth principle says ‘basic knowledge of the host society’s language, history and institutions is indispensable to integration; enabling immigrants to acquire this basic knowledge is essential to successful integration’.[45] And as the Commission itself states in its recent ‘Third Yearly Report on Immigration and Integration’,[46] which was based on the Common Basic Principles, in their reforms and actions European countries have deemed language to be an essential element of integration, and established education programmes, even making them mandatory.

In this context new language requirements have been established in several European countries. They have taken the form of new tools or changes to ‘traditional’ ones already in use. In 2002 Germany began to debate and plan for the need to introduce immigrant integration courses that include teaching of the language. After that bill failed, a law that was agreed on in 2004 and took effect on 1 January 2005 seeks to facilitate the integration of foreigners and for this purpose regulates the rights and duties of those who already live in Germany and those who wish t olive there. The goal of the law is to promote integration and in order to achieve it the legislation stresses the learning of the German language.[47]

In promoting integration, the German federal law features for the first time classes on integration; they are a right of all those who arrive and wish to stay in Germany. The courses become mandatory for those who already live in Germany and have insufficient knowledge of German, and for those who arrive and want to obtain a residence permit. The courses have an annual Budget of €200 million a year.

Germany’s Federal Interior Ministry says learning German is a fundamental part of those courses. In fact, at the elementary and intermediate level they involve 300 course hours, compared with just 30 for the orientation course. The classes aim to cater to individual needs and paces, and thus are structured in modules of six units per course. The goal is that people who attend achieve a level of German language skills equivalent to the ‘first level of independent use’ of the language. This is defined as the level necessary to ‘deal with and resolve daily situations on their own, converse and express themselves in writing in a way commensurate with their age and education level’. The stated goal of the courses in language and orientation is to help immigrants find their way more easily in the new society and offer them values that they can identify with.[48]

The recent modification of British immigration policy states that learning English is important not only for succeeding in the labour market but also for integration. Since the publication of the White Book entitled Secure Borders, Safe Haven in February 2002, debate reopened on introducing new naturalization procedures, with language and citizenship classes and tests prior to ceremonies in which people gained citizenship. This change was defended as a way to achieve ‘active citizenry’ and social cohesion, not just among foreigners but also among young Britons.

The Commission on Integration and Social Cohesion, created in the UK after the terrorist attacks of July 2005 to advise the government, presented a report in February 2007 in which it said the inability to speak English is the greatest barrier that keeps immigrants from integrating successfully in the UK and that if immigrants do not learn English shortly after arriving they never will. The report suggested the possibility of expanding use of English tests, for instance to the wives of residents who want to enter the country.

As he presented the report, the Chairman of the commission, Darra Singh, said, ‘Learning English is clearly the responsibility of the individual, but the local authorities, central government and employers have a key role in supporting migrants to improve their language skills... If you can’t speak English -whether you are a new migrant or someone who has lived here for years- you are on path to isolation and separation’.[49] The test called Life in the UK, which as of 1 November 2005 was mandatory for all those seeking naturalisation, became obligatory as of 2 April 2007 for all those seek permanent residence. So in this case as well a ‘good level of English’ is also required.

In the Netherlands, since a coalition was formed between the Christian Democrats (CDA), the populists of Pim Fortuyn (LPF) and the Liberals (WD) after the elections of May 2002, debate began on toughening the laws, especially with regard to asylum–seekers entering the country without papers. In the debate on this reform, the LPF proposed the idea of legalising asylum–seekers who have been in the country for five years, so long as they speak Dutch well and have no criminal record. This proposal was not accepted but language skills became one of the pre–requisites for naturalisation.

In 2004, a bill proposed by the Dutch Minister for Foreigners and Integration, Rita Verdonk, featured a hotly–debated system of mandatory integration that included obligatory measures for immigrants and also for Dutch people born outside the EU and for naturalised Dutch citizens. The Dutch Council of State said this was not viable for the latter two classes of people, with exceptions in the last of the two. The only way to skirt the integration test was to present diplomas showing a command of the Dutch language and knowledge of Dutch society. This was even required of new arrivals who otherwise could not obtain permanent residence. The cost of the course and the test (around €350) was basically up to the immigrant, who had a maximum of five years to pass it. In early 2007, and after the change of government in late 2006, the ‘basic civic integration’ tests were modified, but language and cultural tests are still featured in them.

In Austria, the legislation in force since 2006 has been the government’s legal framework in expanding the scope and level of integration courses, which are complemented with other measures to work toward this goal. These include more language courses for immigrants and steps to promote participation in day–care facilities and help children of immigrants learn German.[50]

The new government that took power in Austria in January 2007 embraced a programme focusing on internal security and integration. It recalled the clauses in the ‘integration accords’ that immigrants must abide by and said ‘successful integration basic knowledge of the German language... Knowledge of our language is a pre–requisite for integration’, as is respect for the Austrian legal system.[51] The idea is to encourage integration through services available to all and aimed at specific groups for the learning of German. One target group is that of children, and getting their parents to take part while they are still in a pre–school age, and women and young people, for which specific programmes are designed. Parent participation in education is seen as a means for their participation in ‘German language courses for parents’.

France has been a pioneer in requiring a so–called acceptance and integration contract (CAI), similar to the Austrian model. Under a law passed in November 2007[52] (which is more demanding than those of November 2003 and July 2006) the contract is applicable to the family nucleus, and obliges parents to know their rights and duties in the family. One of those duties is to facilitate the integration of their children through schooling and learning the French language. The language issue became mandatory for groups which had been exempt from having to prove some knowledge of French, such as relatives seeking to come to France to join their families.

As a result of the legislation, all those between the ages of 16 and 65 are tested before entering the country. If, in light of the results obtain, administrative authorities deem the person needs some tuition, another test is given at the end of this training period. The language requirement is also made of those seeking a residency permit: normally, people who are in France without papers and want to make their status legitimate.


The recent evolution of language requirements in the immigration policies of host countries shows three general trends toward change, aside from the particularities of the different countries examined in this study. The first trend is the extension of rules incorporating language requirements for immigrants to be allowed into countries that have a history of taking in foreigners (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) to countries that have less of a background in managing migratory flows (the UK).

Secondly, more and more countries are applying mechanisms to make sure immigrants know the local language (along with other cultural teachings). These include mandatory language classes aimed at enhancing the integration of new arrivals or of those who already live in the country but do not master the language. In many countries that are recipients of immigration, over the past decade language tests have been established for the first time in their history, or new language requirements have been incorporated in the integration chapter of their immigration policies.

Finally, this idea of giving greater weight to language requirements has also manifested itself in a tendency to broaden the spectrum of which groups of people have to take a test to measure their language skills, and an increase in the number of times during the immigration process that foreigners seeking entry must show their language skills. These days it is not just highly skilled economic migrants or people seeking the nationality of the host country, as in the traditional formulas, who must prove their command of the language, but also, depending on the country, relatives brought over to be united with their families and foreigners who want to marry citizens of the country who must take language tests. There is also rising concern over the language skills of residents. And the trend is toward making this mandatory for all of those who arrive, and wish to obtain a permit or renew an existing one, regardless of whether they plan to seek citizenship some day.

Rut Bermejo
Lecturer Professor of Political Science at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Madrid)

[1] For an example of an analysis of migratory flows that follows this theoretical approach, see Rickard Sandell, ‘European Enlargement: Pitfalls and Remedies to Avoid Excessive Westbound Emigration’, ARI nr 109/2003, Elcano Royal Institute, 18/IX/2003.

[2] For a detailed study of the effect of linguistic communities on migratory movements and labour markets in host countries, see Rodolfo Gutiérrez, ‘Lengua, migraciones y mercado de trabajo’, Working Paper 05/07, Fundación Telefónica/Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales, 2007.

[3] For a view of the relationship between language and migration in the Spanish case, see Jaime Otero, ‘Lengua y migraciones: aspectos culturales de la inmigración latinoamericana en España’, ARI nr 36/2007, Elcano Royal Institute, 20/III/2007.

[4] J.J. Schoorl, L. Heering, I. Esveldt, G. Groenewold, R.F. van der Erf, A.M. Bosch, H. de Valk & B.J. de Bruijn, Push and Pull Factors of International Migration: A Comparative Report, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 2000, p. 72–85, ISBN 92–828–9721–4,, last access 12/II/2008.

[5] Patrick Weil, ‘Immigration: A Flexible Framework for a Plural Europe’, in A. Giddens, P. Diamond & R. Liddle (eds.), Global Europe, Social Europe, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2006, p. 229–243. With regard to this process of luring IT workers, it can be asked if at that time these countries used language issues to attract immigrants. But the answer is no. Although many developed countries were beginning to compete to attract this kind of skilled workers, it was not a common practice among host countries to offer language courses as a way to lure the human resources they needed.

[6] D.G. Papademetriou, ‘Selecting Economic Stream Immigrants through Points Systems’, Migration Information Source, Migration Policy Institute, 18/V/2007, http://www.migration, last access 22/I/2008.

[8] For a thorough study of those changes in the points system, see for example, B.R. Chiswick & P.W. Miller, ‘Immigration to Australia during the 1990s: Institutional and Labour Market Influences’, in D.A. Cobb-Clark & S.–E. Khoo (eds), Public Policy and Immigrant Settlement, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2006, p. 3–24; and J.G. Reitz, ‘Canada: Immigration and Nation–Building in the Transition to a Knowledge Economy’, in Cornelius et al. (eds.), Controlling Immigration. A Global Perspective, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004 (2nd edition), p. 97–133.

[9] All information on how points are assigned for linguistic knowledge and the other five factors that are evaluated are available on the Web page of the Canadian Immigration and Visa Services,

[11] See footnote 7.

[12] Chiswick and Miller, op. cit., p. 3–24.

[13] Ibid.

[14] To see the changes in Australian immigration legislation since 2003:, consulted 3/III/2008.

[15] A detailed description of these categories is established in the last guide for the General Skilled Migration programme in Jan. 2008, which can be seen at, consulted el 3/II/2008. The scoring system for language is on page 24 of the manual.

[16] See Gina Clayton, Textbook on Immigration and Asylum Law, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006 (2nd edition), p. 359. Although Papademetriou says Britain started using a points–based system in 2001 (see footnote 4), it seems clear that it did not start being regulated until 2002 with the HSMP.

[17] Note has been made of the similarity between this first version and the points systems in Australia and Canada. See Story URL:,1000000308,39256265,00.htm, consulted 3/III/2008).

[18] Among other statements by the Home Minister, see ‘New Points System Goes Live’, 29/II/2008,, consulted 1/III/2008.

[19] The guide with the scoring system and pre–requisites for applying has been available since February 2008 at, consulted 5/III/2008.

[21] As announced, the system would have five tiers: highly qualified workers, skilled workers with a job offer, low–skill workers, students and temporary workers or young people on the move. BBC News, 3/VII/2006, ‘Migration: How Points would Work’, at, consulted 13/II/2008. However, the initial proposal might undergo some kind of change, judging by the instructions that appear now on the Web page of the UK Border and Immigration Agency),, consulted 4/III/2008.

[22] COM (2004) 811.

[23] Philip Martin, ‘The United States: The Continuing Immigration Debate’, in Cornelius et al. (eds.), Controlling Immigration. A Global Perspective, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2004 (second edition, p. 50–85.

[24] Douglas S. Massey, ‘America’s Never-Ending Debate: A Review Essay’, Population and Development Review 32 (3), 2006, p. 573-584.

[25] Ibid, p. 580–581.

[26] Michael Abramowitz, ‘Immigration Bill’s Point System Worries Some Groups’, Washington Post, 27/V/2007,, last accessed 3/IV/2008; Dawn Konet & Julia Gelatt, ‘Congress and White House Release Competing Proposals for Immigration Reform’, Migration Information Source, 16/IV/2007,, last accessed 13/II/2008.

[27] For a thorough study on the expected consequences of the reform, see Migration Policy Group, ‘Proposed Points System and its Likely Impact on Prospective Immigrants’, Immigration Backgrounder, nr 4, May 2007.

[28] Abramowitz, op. cit.

[29] Chiswick & Miller, op. cit., p. 121.

[30] Quoted by R.G. Rumbaut, D.S. Massey & F.D. Bean, ‘Linguistic Life Expectancies: Immigrant Language Retention in Southern California’, Population and Development Review, nr 32, 3, 2006, p. 458.

[31] La Opinión Digital, 18/IX/2006,, accessed 9/III/2008.

[32] Thus was the final wording of this article of the Civil Code after its reform through Law nr 2003–1119 of 26 November 2003 on immigration, foreigners living in France and nationality (art. 68). See the Official Record of 27/XI/2003. It should be borne in mind that the Civil Code establishes some exceptions to the obligation of demonstrating knowledge of the French language. These appear in articles introduced through reforms in 1993, 1998 and 2003. Such is the case of ‘people who belong to the French cultural and linguistic entity, or are subjects of territories or a State in which the official language or one of the official languages is French, when French is a person’s mother tongue or the person can show they have at least five years of schooling in a French–language school’ (art. 21.20). Knowledge of French is not required either of political refugees or stateless people who have lived in France steadily and legally for at least 15 years and who are over the age of 70 (art. 21.24.1). But it is required of people who marry a French citizen (art. 21.2).

[33] The federal government establishes its general requirements on its Web page, consulted 8/III/2008.

[34] El Paí, 20/II/2008.

[35] Simon Green et al. (2008), The Politics of the New Germany, Routledge, New York, p. 100.

[36] Ibid, p. 102. Given foreign residents’ low level of German language skills, this measure appears to contradict federal governments’ concern since the mid–80s with over low levels of naturalisation, which have led officials even to present them as a possible crisis of political legitimacy over the long term.

[37] Migration Policy Group, Index of Immigrant Immigration Policies, British Council and Migration Policy Group, Brussels, 2007,, p. 78.

[38] Mauricio Rojas, ‘La inmigración. Una visión desde Escandinavia’, La ilustración Liberal. Revista Española y americana, nr 27, spring 2006, p. 71–72.

[39] Ibid, p. 72.

[40] ABC, 9/II/2008.

[41] This law is small addition to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007. It modified the rules on obtaining Australian citizenship, replacing the Australian Citizenship Act of 1948.

[42] COM (2000) 757.

[43] COM (2001) 387.

[44] COM (2003) 336. For a thorough review of EU integration policy, see Pablo López Pich, ‘La política de integración de la Unión Europea’, Migraciones, nr 22, 2007, p. 221–256.

[45] Conclusions of the Council and Representatives of the Governments of Member States on Common Basic Principles on Integration, Justice and Home Affairs Meeting, Brussels, 19/XI/2004.

[46] COM (2007) 512.

[47] The Federal Interior Ministry defines promotion of integration thusly: ‘all legal immigrants who arrive in Germany, be they foreigners seeking permanent residence, people of German origin who are returning or citizens of the European Union, will be offered a basic package of integration measures which will be standardised nationally regulated by federal legislation’,, last accessed 12/II/2008.

[48] Federal Interior Ministry,, last accessed 12/II/2008.

[49] The Guardian, 21/II/2007, The final report, Our Shared Future, was published in June of that year and can be seen at, last accessed 7/III/2008.

[50] International Migration Outlook, Sopemi, 2007, p. 232.

[51] The Austrian federal government programme for the 23rd legislature, accessible on the Internet,

[52] On the new legislation, see El País, 13/VI/2007 and 22/X/2007.

<![CDATA[ China Discovers Public Diplomacy (WP) ]]> 2007-06-18T02:31:21Z

China’s foreign policy has acquired more visibility and capacity for initiative in recent years, adapting both to the needs of its economic boom and the changing circumstances of international society.