Innovative leaders bridging diversity in Sweden and the West

The Europe Center, through its Program on Sweden, Scandinavia, and the Baltic Region, has forged partnerships with those who bring visionary solutions to the challenge of diversity and reconciliation in our increasingly globalized world.   “Harbor of Hope:  a special evening celebrating Sweden’s diverse cultures” held on May 6th is the latest effort by the Europe Center to disseminate this new way of thinking.  The participation of Sweden’s leading documentary filmmaker Magnus Gertten, and Sweden’s cultural entrepreneur Ozan Sunar, resulted in an unprecedented pairing and an evening of motivating insight for a large public audience.  The program included the screening of Gertten’s documentary “Harbour of Hope”, a multi-media presentation by Sunar and an opportunity for the audience to engage in discussion with both of these special guests.

The evening opened with a welcome by the Europe Center’s director, Professor Amir Eshel, who highlighted the support of the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation for making possible the Europe Center’s Sweden Program and this research.  The center’s Associate Director, Dr. Roland Hsu then framed the thinking behind inviting these particular two guest speakers, Gertten and Sunar.

“This evening”, said Hsu,  “we gather for a special look at the challenge to meet and embrace difference.  In today’s globalized world, market economies, and educational opportunities, but also war and persecution send unprecedented numbers of peoples across borders, away from home cultures, and into new host neighborhoods. 

In the US and in Europe we share the concern and opportunity to learn what drives people far from home.  Tonight, we focus our gaze on the city of Malmo, a city whose neighborhoods contain extraordinary diversity.  Such diversity has a history, which we shall see on film, and it has a future, thanks in large part to the cultural programing we will learn about after the film. 

Our challenge is to learn from the experience of families, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, and children, displaced from the familiar, and replaced in new settings.  e will look at this challenge through the eyes of two visionary artists who have touched us with their works, and who are bridging divides across competing memories, and across growing diversity of today’s mobile and global West.” 

Hsu’s introduction of Magnus Gertten and Gertten’s documentary film “Harbour of Hope” included a line from a NY Times review of Gertten’s art which he felt echoed throughout the evening’s program:  “it seems as if the past is intruding on and sometimes overwhelming the present.”  “Harbour of Hope” includes footage from the original archival film shot on April 28, 1945, the day that 30,000 survivors of German concentration camps arrived in Malmo, Sweden to begin their lives over again.  This powerful and unforgettable film is about the life stories of 3 of the survivors seen on this footage:  Irene Krausz-Fainman, Ewa Kabacinska Jansson and Joe Rozenberg. 

Following the viewing of “Harbour of Hope”, Hsu introduced the next guest Ozan Sunar by sayingIn Mr. Sunar’s cultural programming, we may see not the past overwhelming the present, but instead the present clearing the way for its future.” Sunar, with a long career in the fields of arts, media and integration politics, blazed a path for those seeking new ways to include artistic values from diverse origins into Sweden’s contemporary culture.  He is currently the founding and artistic director of the international cultural house Moriska Paviljongen in Malmo.  Sunar’s presentation and the subsequent discussion on his work uniting heretofore communities in conflict through culture were both inspiring and provocative.

Harbor of Hope:  a special evening celebrating Sweden's diverses cultures; May 6, 2013, Stanford University: