“Well-tempered Multiculturalism”

 

plai_300Alexis Nouss, Plaidoyer pour un monde métis, Paris : Textuel, 2005

 

Multiculturalism is undeniably a conceptual and discursive success story since it has been able to replace the old-fashioned humanism on a new stage called post-modernism and to revamp its message of tolerance. However, this very success has to be questioned and the notion of multiculturalism should be located within a wider framework, namely ‘cultural pluralism’. It would be wrong to mistake
one for the other given that cultural pluralism takes different forms, the three main ones being multiculturalism, interculturalism and transculturalism. Furthermore, there are different brands of multiculturalism which are not carrying a similar semantic and political value, e.g. conservative multiculturalism, environmental multiculturalism, left-wing multiculturalism, liberal multiculturalism, essentialist multiculturalism, state multiculturalism, Benetton multiculturalism, ‘World music’ multiculturalism…

A more neutral definition will claim that multiculturalism is a concept which describes a social setting (be it urban, regional, national or supranational) in which different communities are in contact, no matter what their importance and/or hierarchical positions are. Big scale examples are the Roman Empire, the Habsburg Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the ancient African kingdoms or, nowadays, the Western states.

Interculturalism calls for a different conceptual approach. It designates at both individual and collective levels the dynamics of encounter and of exchange as well as of clash and of rejection which occur when two communities or more are in contact. Intercultural potentials are dependant of the social, economical, and political conditions of the host society and rely on its cultural tradition. Democracy, by instance, does not receive the same definition in, say, France and China. Interculturalism is not a policy one could impose. A good example is the limited success of multiple languages teaching programmes in schools due to the prevalent belief in the virtues of monoculturalism for social harmony. Multiculturalism, thus, describes a social reality and interculturalism a mode of functioning operating in its midst. Problems begin when they are transformed into governmental programmes.

Lastly, Transculturalism should be used to name the common adoption of cultural forms by different communities in a given society. Unlike the two previous notions, transculturalism supposes the willingness of actors to play a role on the socio-cultural level. It could also be defined as an ethical drive. As such, it should be considered as the ultimate goal of a well-tempered multiculturalism.

 

(Adapted from Alexis Nuselovici (Nouss), Plaidoyer pour un monde métis, Paris: Textuel, 2005)

 

http://nle.hypotheses.org/260

http://www.rta.be/intermag/index.php/alexis-nouss-plaidoyer-pour-un-monde-metis

 

 

Related Posts

Books from the Levant

24/04/2007

Books from the LevantIbis Editions is a small publishing house which translates poetry and other literary works from Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, French, German and other languages into English. Based in Jerusalem, Ibis draws together a group of writers and translators whom politics and market forces would normally keep far apart.

Israeli and Arab Writers to Meet in Sheikh Hussein Bridge

08/02/2005

Israeli and Arab Writers to Meet in Sheikh Hussein BridgeJanuary 31, 2005, Sheikh Hussein Bridge Israeli, Palestinian and Arab writers from around the world will meet at the Sheikh Hussein Bridge on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 for a unique literary gathering. The Bridge, which is an international crossing point between Israel and Jordan, serves as a powerful symbol of hope, a link to understanding and a passageway over conflict.

4th International Tangiers Book fair

23/02/2005

4th International Tangiers Book fairThe fourth edition of the International book fair of Tangiers (Silt - 2005) chose, as its main theme, 'The challenges of this century, diversity, singularity and universality'. It will host numerous writers, publishers and personalities from Europe and the Middle-east. A special tribute will be paid to writer Driss Chraïbi. Tangiers, 23-27th of February