Food is an important instrument of culture, the beginning of sharing. The Kitchen of Diversity thus becomes an open workshop for exchanging ideas, habits and opinions. An informal impulse that connects people and brings them together. It functions as a platform for confronting experiences regarding migrations from other parts of Europe.
The Kitchen of Diversity will find its physical home in the Benčić complex, in the new Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. It represents specific cultural programmes of national and other minorities, learning about different cultures, cooperation between religious communities, a place to meet travellers, and more.
We need the kitchen because contemporary Europe is faced with the trauma of migration which presents a challenge for the Union. We must build the capacities to learn how to ethically and efficiently manage the migration waves flowing into European cities. Culture is the true response for the challenge of migrations because it allows us to contemplate the issue from different perspectives – nomadic, cosmopolitan, subcultural, as well as ethnic and religious.
Impulse: Millions are on the move. Wars, natural disasters, poverty and political oppression are forcing them on the road, but some are also motivated by curiosity and a desire for adventure. Employment, family and educational opportunities are the main reasons for migrations, the most powerful factors in our unstable geopolitical environment.
The experience of crossing the border and starting a new life is not a new thing in human history. Rijeka used to be the departure point for emigrants moving to the Americas in the early 20th century. As a port city, an important maritime centre for Central Europe, Rijeka was witness to a massive wave of emigration to the New World. Once known as Fiume, it has always been a city balancing between Italian and Croatian influence. After World War II, a period that was a huge turning point for the city and for Europe, more than fifty thousand citizens, mostly Italians, moved away as part of the so called Istrian exodus. The people of Rijeka became migrant workers in Northern Europe, seeking better jobs and better conditions. At the same time, Rijeka became an important immigration destination in the region because of the growing industry.
Rijeka knows the story of diversity and the loss of home well.