Multiculturalism: We need to understand it
Reducing humans into a choiceless singularity breeds violence
CONCEPT BY TAQVEEM VAID
Cultures come into being everywhere humans live and interact. (The definition of culture has an ‘embarrassing variety’ as is opined by Peter Burke, in History and Social Theory. US anthropologists A L Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhon have underlined the same by quoting as many as 164 definitions. Of this relationship takes birth the concept of culture. Earlier we had smaller human units too conscious of their culture and a unique identity it meant for them. They would guard it against all possible perils and hazards. They would strictly follow their cultural norms and practices and weave a web of protection around the very body of their own culture so that it does not experience any osmosis from anywhere. Their dress, food and other living habits would be dictated by their allegiance to the culture they belonged to. But, with the advent of globalization when travel, trade and frequent human migrations have made people come closer than ever, cultural walls are beginning to get demolished. The walls which humans had tried so hard to protect are gradually breaking, paving a way to a global, universal culture. People cutting across different races, nations, colours, demographies and ethnic diversities prefer to come together and make a world where cultural diversity rather than cultural uniqueness makes the order of the day. This new trend of opening out has given birth to the concept of multi-culturalism. As a term, multiculturalism refers to an applied ideology of racial, cultural and ethnic diversity within the demographics of a specified place, usually at the scale of an organization such as a school, business, neighborhood, city or nation.
Having said that, it never means all smaller identities have got drowned under the massive and overpowering influence of globalization. In this world of think global, act local there are human groups comfortable enough in preserving their own cultural legacies. Despite being the part of a bigger world of multi-cultural fabric, they remain the children of their own traditions. Thomas Friedman in his book about the latest trend in human history no doubt sees the world getting flattening but at the same time he sees the preservation of smaller languages, rituals, customs as a process which humans cherish to carry on. According to Friedman it’s computers that have made the preservation process possible. The globalization which started with making continents meet then made companies come closer and now it’s the never ending and irreversible process of hooking individuals and getting them closer.
In a hi-tech digit driven world it’s possible to have a website of your own, a blog of your own where one can easily stock his own music, his own literature, his own legacy and that is why Friedman sees more possibility in preserving smaller cultures in a globalised world. It is happening now at a speed it had happened ever before. So mono-culturalism in a different way runs parallel to the multi-cultural trend.
According to a noted anthropologist Biku Parekh, Multiculturalism is best understood neither as a political doctrine with a programmatic content nor a philosophical school with a distinct theory of man’s place in the world but as a perspective on or a way of viewing human life.
It’s a bewildering array of human tastes, human biases, human tendencies that make cultural diversity not only a possibility of sorts, but an inevitability unto itself. Prof. Amartya Sen in his book Identity and violence talks in detail about the very need of having a multi-cultural world which he sees as the only way out we can fight the violence we are confronted with at present. Reducing humans into a choiceless singularity, he argues, breeds violence. Prof. Sen makes a detailed study of different Indian cultures and studies the problem at a global level thereby substantiating his thesis of multi-culturalism.
One of the most influential philosophers of twentieth century Isiah Berlin while dwelling on Pluralism says that there are many different ends that men may seek and still be fully rational, fully men, capable of understanding each other and sympathising and deriving light from each other. Intercommunication between cultures in time and space is possible only because what makes men human is common to them, and acts as a bridge between them. From a humanistic perspective also there is only one possible route through which human groups can pass on their ideas and that is the route of interaction and exchange. Human civilization has evolved only because ideas were propagated, traditions were transferred as after all it is human culture that matters at last.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 20 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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