Regional identity, my own identity and multi-international perspectives

by: Thiago Noce

As you could read in the last Bulletin posts, our multikulti delegation of 11 “policy-specialists” of the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy are (re)exploring Siberian territory. We have spent the week in the Faculty of Economics at the Novosibirsk State University (NSU), where our Haniel Spring School is taking place. For this Thursday, it was planned to have a meeting with Aleksandr Kychakov, a representative of the business community “Strategic Initiatives Agency” (SIA), who would show how the communication between center and regions in Russia happens. However, Mr. Kychakov has been called to have a meeting with President Putin himself. Although Mr. Kychakov was not there, it seems that the business community and center have a good relationship and the communication is indeed pretty close. 🙂

Considering that, the organization decided to anticipate the lecture from Friday morning, bringing Dr. Olga Echevskaya and Dr. Alla Anisimova, from the Faculty of Economics of NSU to discuss regional identity, regional economic development and civic participation in Siberia. The lecture was great! The authors have used a very attractive methodological strategy to carry out the research and the topic itself has attracted our attention because we associate very easily the case of Siberia with our own experience on forming identity and also by analyzing our (sub)national context(s). Many students could identify similarities – and challenges – in their home countries and we had an intensive discussion about possible solutions and necessary conditions to build national cohesion and maintain regional identities. I believe that this was the lecture that has attracted more attention among the students. It was great to hear cases from South Africa to the north of Germany, from the western coast of Africa to northeastern Brazil, and put them into a comparative perspective.

In the afternoon, we had a guided tour to the Technopark “Novosibirsk”, a leading incubator center, located in Academgorodok (the campus-city where NSU is also located) that research, design, and create high-tech products. The Technopark, which has a variety of fields from chemical-physics to bio-medicine, operates in a close cooperation between academia and private companies, that is, knowledge and (market) needs are in mutual interaction. The visit was also very productive. We saw laser-cuts machines, production of different chips, and, the most interesting, a 3D “printer”, which can produce complex and detailed objects with precision.

In the evening, the group split. Some colleagues decided to spend their time working on the policy case presentation, taking a rest, or exploring Academgorodok’s student life. I joined this third group. Together with some Russian colleagues, we went to a bar where there was a Reggae show. The band was, of course, in Russian 😀 It was awesome! There were not so many students there (maybe because it is the end of semester here), but the atmosphere was very cozy. We finished around 12 am, exactly when my mission on reporting expires… 😀

Well, the day started with the discussion of regional identity, but I have to say that I have learned a lot about myself, and the interaction with so many international perspectives made me rethink my “Brazility”, what is in, what is out, what fits and what is just clichés… I would like to conclude this post paraphrasing Descartes, “I compare, therefore, I am”…

пока́! That is, bye-bye!