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Abstract

Western societies have constructed their collective imaginaries through the recuperation of objects and traditions that define them best. Europe mythically shaped its self-definition by “whitening” it, denying any recognition whatsoever of the cultural diversity of the people who inhabited the region for centuries. Since the 15th and 16th centuries, with the Renaissance, the invention of a common past involved emphasizing the Greek and Latin past, disconnected from any type of relationship with other cultures, religions or skin colors. The white marble of Roman sculptures, which many farmers found while tilling their land, became the desired color, the symbol of a Europe that nullified any presence of cultural and religious difference. Within this chosen definition, the chromatic spectrum of the others and their everyday objects were first defined as the war booty of dominant aristocracies, and later, as objects fit for ethnological museums. Today we have diversity in our streets and not just in our museums. When we walk through our cities, new strokes, colors and styles of clothing take us by surprise–those of foreigners from outside the European community, those who remain outside the Europe of their dreams and do not enjoy the citizenship rights of inhabitants of the European Union’s member states.

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