Monday, January 26, 2009

Cultural Purity or Global Culture?

The topic for this Spring 2009 Forum is posted in the banner above, but we thought we'd get things started not just restating the topic in the blogroll but providing some links to get us all thinking. Not all of the connections between the questions and links are immediately obvious, but we think they are all suggestive -- and worth exploring.

But you tell us -- and your colleagues here -- and post your own links! And remember, these aren't the only questions; just a few to get us started. Ask and take a shot at answering your own.

So here we go:

Ethnic and national cultures have never existed in a vacuum, but the idea of cultural purity seems especially fantastic at this particular moment. President Barack Obama is claimed by his father’s Kenyan village as one of their own; Hollywood repeatedly dips into the East Asian film archive for its Next Big Release and major studios have even taken steps into Bollywood (and what to make of this?); afrobeat bands can be found in almost every US college town; while luxury-good retailers continue to expand into emerging markets and set new standards for ostentatious consumption (even in this challenging economic environment). Are we losing something as the walls that remain between cultures crumble? Is there even a way of measuring cultural loss and cultural gain that would allow us to make reasoned judgments? How would you go about protecting culture, when so much of it travels with people and goods which increasingly face fewer and fewer cross-border restrictions? Are we in an age of cultural “survival of the fittest” or is the blending of culture elements actually an improvement? Or does that depend on what side you – and the culture you identify with – end up on?
Read, comment, register, and share your thoughts with the UW-Madison community -- and the world!

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