Transcultural encounters of diversity – towards a research agenda. The case of Polish presence in the UK
International migration and transnational ways of life of migrants bring a new kind of complexity into European societies. The term diversity is used to describe the quality of ethnically, religiously and socially complex societies and the processes taking place within them, yet there remains much confusion in the scholarly mobilization of the concept. The paper suggests a number of perspectives to think about diversity. In particular, it looks at what kind of diversity is in play, and how the experiences people have with other cultures transform their practices and their attitudes. The paper has an explorative character and aims to establish an approach for studying the socio-cultural consequences of diversification of societies. The suggested ideas and concepts are derived from examining the case of the post-accession migration from Poland to Great Britain. They are illustrated with examples taken from online editions of the key Polish and British newspapers that dedicated much attention to the Polish migrants in the UK. The paper is organized into three sections. First it describes the new configurations of diversity to which Polish migrants contribute in terms of demographic changes, material diversification and new relations of social inequality. Second, it draws attention to aesthetic and affective aspects of encounters with diversity. Finally, it shows transcultural practices that arise from these encounters.
Magdalena Nowicka is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (MMG), Department for Socio- Cultural Diversity, Göttingen.