In a European Community funded project cultural organizations with an educational mission (such as Castrum Peregrini, the Goethe Institute and the Volkshochschule in Vienna) from 5 European countries have worked together on the theme of fanaticism. At the final partners meeting in Amsterdam on 6 may 2011 all European partners will launch and discuss the main outcomes of the project: an online fanaticism awareness tool, a Europe-wide published ‘once in a lifetime’-magazine on fanaticism and a range of educational material. The broad Dutch audience will be addressed through an evening at Felix Meritis, with keynote speeches, a roundtable discussion and a concert alongside an exhibition opened the same day with 6 internationally renowned artists addressing the subject of fanaticism.
In the FAT project (Fanaticism Awareness Tool), fanaticism was approached as a characteristic given of human nature, not something to be looked after in ’others’. It is seen as a danger to which every individual is exposed. Moreover the self awareness bears the potential to gain an understanding of tolerance that lies far beyond the usual indifference. Only by overcoming the distance between image and identity in terms of fanaticism a true understanding of tolerance is the inevitable added value.
Questions dealt with in the project: what is fanaticism? when and why does one gets fanatic? why is one individual more vulnerable than the other? what is needed to realize one has tendencies towards fanaticism? when can you call somebody fanatic?
Europe has a long history of religious, political, racist and economical fanaticism that has had disastrous effects on the development of the continent. That threat is existing until today and is likely to be a reality in future societies, too. Elias Canetti, Sebastian Haffner and Hannah Arendt highlight that fanaticism belongs to the ’condition humaine’. It is thus a universal phenomenon, not bound to specific races, cultures or countries. The only harness for individuals against this human characteristic is to improve their self awareness towards it. The main objective of the project was the development of strong tools to create self awareness of one’s vulnerability for fanaticism in a playful but effective way in different countries of the EU.