‘absolutely intercultural!’ – Show #8

This episode comes from Portugal where we begin with a colourful street parade which includes a mass wedding.

We visit ELO SOCIAL, a place where disabled adults can work, rest and play and talk to Luisa, one of the staff..

The German station has noticed the many German flags flying on the occasion of the World Cup and ask themselves about the significance of national flags in different cultures.
Flags were also prominent in Portugal and we hear from Cristina Costa, a teacher of English at the Naval Academy of Lisbon about how she feels seeing all these flags.

My visit to Portugal was to work on the idea of how mentoring could help disabled people into the workplace. I talked to Nikolaos Floratos about the attitude of Greek employers to this idea as we walked around the palace at Sintra.

Next I talked to Vladimir Plesnik of Reintegra in the Czech Republic who had a good reason to welcome the idea of mentoring in his country.

The music was provided by Panteras Negras, the ELO SOCIAL rock band.

The Host of this show is: Anne Fox


3 thoughts on “‘absolutely intercultural!’ – Show #8”

  1. The US flag was not always so prominently displayed as today. Following the defeat of the Federal troops in the opening battle of the US Civil War, at Ft. Sumter, South Carolina, more public displays of the flag were noted. (“Flag – An American Biography”, by Marc Leepson, Nelson DeMille). I recommend a podcast “On the Media – June 30, 2006” (from WNYC/NPR) for many other interesting facts based on this book.

    As far as protecting the flag, there was once a law in the state of Louisiana that reduced the penalties for assault if the person being assaulted was burning a flag. That is, you might be fined US$500 and have to go to jail if you beat someone. If that person was burning a flag, you might be fined US$25 and not go to jail! Another item (I can’t get a good source on this one) suggests that a state required that certain environmental forms be filled out before burning a flag. In summary, the passage of a law banning flag desecration could not generally be accomplished, because it contradicts our Constitution. But people feel strongly about the flag, thus these “work arounds”.

    Keep in mind that our anthem is a song about the flag, we have a special pledge to the flag (nevermind that it was written by a socialist).

    I am interested in Dr. Borgmann’s reaction to the presence of flags in Germany. It sounded like it made him physically uncomfortable, a very deep, emotional reaction, for him and Carsten (is the spelling right on his name?). I think this is a sign that there is something cultural going on … these feelings seem to be very deep.

    I can’t say that I agree with the extension of the software idea, such as calling the flag displays a “virus”. I think each of these new “updates” is an attempt by the society to try something new. If it accomplishes some purpose, it may be retained permanently. Thus, I would compare it to a mutation in an organism, and apply the principles of natural selection to it.

    Keep up the good work! Keep everyone thinking about how we are different and how we are the same and why it is important to understand this!



  2. Hi Lon
    Good to hear from you again. Everybody seems to be concerned about flags at the moment. There is a book just out discussing the meaning of the Union Jack, the flag for Great Britain (as against England). ‘The Union Jack: The Story of the British Flag’ by Nick Groom.

    I think you are right about flags touching very deep emotions. Having experienced the two cultures of Britain and Denmark, I must say that I have completely different relationships to the two flags. I alluded to the homely feel of the Danish flag in the podcast. By contrast I associate the Union Jack with either pomp and ceremony or even more with aggressive far right Neo Nazi politics since this is the group where I have seen it most in evidence. This may have changed in the time that I have been away from the UK as flag waving has become much more common there and now refers to Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England as much, if not more than to Great Britain as a whole.

    I have also just finished watching a very interesting series on Danish TV about the options open for building peace in the Middle East. One of the ruses the presenter used was to present her interviewees with small flags from the various nations involved such as the Palestinian, Israeli, Syrian, Danish and Lebanese flags and simply ask what reactions the flags elicited. Even ignorance of some of the flags spoke volumes about the person being interviewed.

  3. Hi . . I would have to agree with Lon on how the flags seem to be an update but not necessarily a virus. There is so much identity set in flags it is amazing. It is also interesting to look at the military culture and how the connection they have with the flag. When I was a Rotary International Exchange Student we used to give out pins to other exchange students. By the end of our year, we collected at least a hundred different pins that we put onto a jacket. Many of the pins we collected were representation of the flags of where the individual was from. By collecting these pins, many of us felt that (1) we had a physical connection to the individual we exchanged with and (2) we had a connection with their nation.

    Nonetheless, how much of a flag is wrapped around the identity of a nation or the expression of a culture?

    Anywise . . as always thanks for the insights!

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