Client: WWTF (Wiener Wissenschafts- und Technologiefonds)
Project director: Andreas Gebesmair
Implementation: Michael Parzer
Cooperation partner: Institute for Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna), Institute for European Ethnology (University of Vienna)
Project duration: January 2007 – March 2009
The culture of immigrants enjoys increasing popularity not only within but also beyond the immigrant communities. “Bollynight”-Clubbings, the festival “Salam Orient”, and the Chinese New Year concerts in the Golden Hall of the Wiener Musikverein are just a few examples of immigrant culture, which became an integral part of cultural life in Vienna. However, these activities only represent a small fraction of cultural entrepreneurship, which came to urban centres of Europe by global migration.
The main task of the project „Embedded Industries. Cultural Entrepreneurs in Different Immigrant Communities of Vienna“, which was finished in May 2009, was to make the diversity of immigrant creative industries in Vienna visible. Within the project, which was carried out by mediacult in co-operation with the Institute for Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology (University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna) and the Institute for European Ethnology (University of Vienna), selected cultural activities (music, performing arts, film and media) of immigrants from Turkey, China and South Asia were studied. These activities range from cultural associations and religious organisations dedicated to the transmission of cultural traditions, from the rich choice of festivities and live performances, to the culture industries in a narrower sense, i.e. CD- and DVD-distribution, radio- and TV-programmes and print media. Due to its interdisciplinary outline, the project comprised many different perspectives, theoretical approaches and methods (field research, qualitative interviews, quantitative survey, network analysis, and artefact analysis).
Two issues were at the centre of our research: On the one hand, the project aimed at a thorough examination of the structural embeddedness of immigrant cultural work. Cultural entrepreneurship is shaped by demand conditions within and beyond ethnic niches, legal regulations (primarily migration policy and trade law), public support for the arts, and business programs, but also by individual resources, like education, capital and personal networks. Contrary to the widespread assumption that family support would compensate for structural disadvantages, our analysis shows that the mobilization of informal network resources is typical for those who already possess strong ties to members of the host society and who have, through their social origins, high relevant competencies. On the other hand, the project’s aim was to find out how cultural traditions are picked up, accentuated, and modified by immigrant cultural workers and brokers in the creative industries. As a means of marketing, some cultural entrepreneurs tend to emphasize ethnic clichés and stereotypes, although they risk stigmatization and the restriction of their entrepreneurial opportunities. From an ethnomusicological perspective the adaptation of cultural traditions to new contexts was observed. As a result, new hybrid forms of cultural practice are emerging, which offer new opportunities for immigrants cultural entrepreneurs.
The main results will be made available to the public in a book and on DVD which includes four introductory films at the end of 2009.