Friday, August 31, 2007

A Riddle is a Paradox, indeed

Baumann localised his book on Rethinking National, Ethnic and Religious Identities, and states: "To solve the riddle, one needs to rethink what is meant by nationality or the nation-state, by ethnic identity or ethnicity, and by religion as a basis of culture." (Baumann 1999: vii) Multiculturalism for him is a riddle, "Having reviewed a multiculturalist vision uncritical of the nation- state and another seemingly multiculturalist one that reduces people´s culture to their religion at birth, let us turn to the third reification that must be overcome: the reduction of people´s culture to their ethnic identity." (Baumann 1999: 103)

I think, that multiculturalisms are theories, that are too weak to translate them into everyday practice. In reference to the fact, that human beings may be members of several cultures/cultural groups (rf. Baumann 1999: 99 f.), I think, that 1. people do (re-)define cultural communities, over and over;  2. (multi-)culturalisms of any kind and theory would not practically have an effect in reality, because people wouldn´t let themselves be reduced to their religion, nation or else. So the question arises, how is cultural identity constituted? To make a long story short by assuming, that culture is system of symbols (rf. Geertz), then groups of people would be better understood, if their symbols were socially understandable or explained. If the origins of identity are culturally influenced, because cultures are shared by many, then cultural identity has to do wih communication. From this it follows, that societies in nations or nation-like groups, like for instance the E. U., i. e. their representatives, should reduce their attempts to formulate what culture would be, in a way, that makes respect and tolerance complyable with an (individual´s) human condition(s) and the Human Rights, plus ammendments. A manifold society and multifaceted cultures would respect and accept particularities of individuals or groups. Cultural identities change permanently, communication filtered the cultural divide.

I don´t know how many Anthropologists are comissioned in the E. U. executive boards, I mean, how many Social and Cultural Anthropologists - specialists for cultures - are employed to solve problems relating to culture(s). And: How can tensions relating to culture(s) be resolved without specialists for culture(s)? "How can we award the same universal recognition to an ever-widening variety of mutually exclusive designs of authenticity and identity, especially when these involve a politics of (stressing) difference?" (Baumann 1999: 108)

As for Baumann pluralisms were inconclusive and the meaningful exclusivist in extreme. Professor Gingrich offers the dialogue as a medium to communicate social and cultural conflicts to achieve respect and tolerance. The Respect Project offers scientific and lawful standards, they have a database online.



1. "I Have A Dream" - but Who Os It For? Civil Rights, Human Rights, or Community Rights?

2. From Dreaming to Meaning: The Multicultural Triangle. National Culture, Ethnic Culture, Religion as Culture

3. The Nation-State, I: Postethnic or Pseudotribe? Why Nationa-States Are Not Ethnically Neutral

4. The Nation-State, II: Business or Temple? Why Nation-States Are Not Religiously Neutral

5. Ethnicity: Blood or Wine? Not Immutable Heritage, but Positioning in Context

7. Culture: Having, Making, or Both? From an Essentialist through a Processual to a Discursive Understanding

8. Multicultural Theory, I: The Sales Talk and the Small Print. Are You Same ENough to Be Equal?

9. Multicultural Theory, II: The Values and the Valid. What Is It Prof. Taylor Should "Recognize"?

10. Multicultural Praxis: The Banal and the Best. From Culti-Parading to Multi-Relating

11. From Dreaming to Meaning: A Summary. Multiculturalism Is A New Understanding of Culture

12. From Meaning to Practice: What Students Can Do. New Understandings Require New Projects




Baumann, Gerd (1999) The Multicultural Riddle. Rethinking National, Ethnic, and Religious Identities. New York: Routledge. Tags: , , ,
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Quote of the Day:
If we find a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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