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Cultural identification

World globalization give tremendous changes to foreign cultures. About the problems involved, anthropologists  Rik Pinxten & Koen De Munter have written the book "De culturele eeuw". They uncharged most presumptions about other cultures.  

Sofie Messeman translated by David Norden from an article published in De Tijd on 13 May 2006

In this Dutch book Pinxten & De Munter explains us why we always have seen other cultures as static, and why we believe our culture only to be dynamic, rational and finally superior.  Anthropology from other cultures always look for the static structures from tribes, witch are then described as the basis from all other phenomena like moral, politics, and religion. This search for permanent structures in the social world from other traditions is finally proved without foundations .

Also the presumption that only Western people can get along with change is unsustainable.  'All cultural entities are variable and can have there own history of changes and conflicts'. The authors don't want us to speak about 'cultures' but individuals, groups, and associations that can identify at the hand of cultural definitions. The identities they build in cultural terms, change thru time, not only in the West, but also in other cultures.

(...)

Racism & Culturalism

Because diversity become an ineluctable fact in the global world, you can raise the question how to handle this. Pinxten & Koen De Munter tells us the Western world is not well prepared towards this diversity, unless the fact that this is permanent.

'What the West is missing, are principles and strategies to handle the conflicts coming from a mixed society'. That discussion always arouse from the opposition between mono- and multi-culturalism, is misleading !  Both vision are starting from the idea a culture or a tribe is something static.

Mono-culturality starts from a specific identity given to the 'own people' that is fundamentally different from the "others", the "multiculturalists" from the idea all others have a fixed identity. Both visions are unsustainable because they project the unchanging characteristics from other cultures, and forget the fact that there are new common rules accepted by both parties.

" We say a minimum of common rules must be underscribed by each one, otherwise mixed societies can only lead to conflicts and fear from each other' These discussable common rules have to be known by each one living in the same society. Maybe a basic package "political education" could help. It is a fact that citizens living in a complex society, must also learn during his whole life, conclude Pinxten and De Munter.

Sofie Messeman

BOOK: 

De culturele eeuw paperback, 238 pag.
ISBN: 9052408874

Prijs: € 19,95

De wereld bevindt zich in een overgangsperiode: van westers overwicht naar gedeelde invloed, van een monocultureel leefpatroon naar een leven in en met diversiteit. Dat is verwarrend. In zo’n overgangsperiode hebben doemscenario’s veel succes. Aan de andere kant zijn fundamentalistische theorieën populair omdat ze de schijn ophouden dat vroegere waarden en leefvormen redding zullen brengen. Toch is een overgangsperiode ook een zaaibed van nieuwe vormen, van creativiteit en van maatschappelijk experiment. Onze identiteit, ras, de stadscultuur, familiale verbanden, kunst en religie: ze vormen strijdtonelen tussen oude en nieuwe vormen en machtsposities. Dankzij de menselijke verbeelding zal de mens echter overleven.

Rik Pinxten is professor en onderzoeker in de antropologie, voorzitter van de Humanistisch Vrijzinnige Vereniging van Vlaanderen en auteur van enkele boeken in binnen- en buitenland.

Koen De Munter is antropoloog met ervaring in Latijns-Amerika en auteur van werk over de postkolonialiteit en de Indianen in de Andes.
Beiden zijn verbonden aan de Universiteit Gent.

‘De culturele eeuw’ verschijnt bij Uitgeverij Houtekiet.

Les antropologues Rik Pinxten et Koen De Munter nous présentent leur nouvelle publication ‘L’Age culturel’: un livre sur la période transitionnelle de la suprématie occidentale à l’influence partagée, de la monoculture à la diversité.

Rik Pinxten and Koen De Munter, both published anthropologists, present their book ‘The Cultural Age’: a book about the transitional age from western superiority to partial influence, from monoculturality to diversity.

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