Beyond Dichotomies: Histories, Identities, Cultures, and the by M. Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi

By M. Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi

Confronts the cultural demanding situations of globalization.

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Additional info for Beyond Dichotomies: Histories, Identities, Cultures, and the Challenge of Globalization (Explorations in Postcolonial Studies)

Example text

At any rate, willingly or not, anthropology, and American cultural anthropology in particular, sold the general public an ahistorical, classless, essentialist notion of culture that breeds determinism. Culture became something evanescent and yet palpable, shared by a community whose borders just happened to replicate political boundaries. One nation, one state, one culture. One subnation, one subculture. Where racial boundaries were also fundamental political boundaries, as in the United States, culture and race became conflated.

Their fluidity once stated, we treat our new hybrids as entities—as givens rather than as moments to be unpacked. Th e P e r s p e c t i v e o f t h e Wo r l d 15 The political danger is obvious. One of the least banal effects of the Tiger Woods, Hybrid qua Star phenomenon is a thicker mask on the formation of racial identity and the workings of racism in the United States. There is a mess out there, and the temptation to order the mess by inventing new labels, by naming the results rather than deciphering the process, is great.

The designation Th e P e r s p e c t i v e o f t h e Wo r l d 9 does not refer to a static space but to the locus of a momentum. Spain’s conquest of the Philippines, the British conquest of India, and the United States’ control of Korea all fall within that moment. I will insist, however, that it is no accident that such non-Atlantic ventures often took place when the respective power claimed partial or total control of the Atlantic Ocean. This Atlantic moment of globality entailed at the onset massive flows of money, capital, goods, ideas, motifs, and people not only across states but across continents.

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