The world strikes back

Jean-Yves Durand (CRIA-UMinho)
Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon)
Wills 3.32
Start time:
21 September, 2006 at 14:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The 'world' exports to Europe all sorts of cultural goods, sometimes after having received and adapted them. What are they, and what reactions result from this form of cultural diffusion?

Long abstract:

In the processes of exchange between Europe and 'the rest of the world', is the latter only a 'recipient', as worded in the presentation of EASA's 2006 conference? Being a 'partner', is it only passive? The consequences of the movements of people and certain goods have, of course, been studied but, as was stressed by Signe Howell in her 1995 article, 'Whose knowledge and whose power?', we have paid less attention to the fact that the 'world' also exports to Europe, which adapts them, all kinds of cultural products: heterogeneous manners of conceiving the universe, organising it and acting in it. <br/>It is not of course a matter of denying that the exchange is unequal, but the cultural trickle into Europe is obviously rising. Does it take place only in unessential cultural domains or affect them only superficially? Why are some of them more favourable than others to these fluxes? Why and exactly how, for instance, certain forms of religion, healing, food, arts, techniques of the body, etc., and not others? What underlies European parascience's eagerness towards foreign notions and systems? <br/>The workshop would therefore welcome ethnographic contributions focused upon European receptions of such immaterial 'goods', including cases of exogenous adaptations of some of its own cultural exports. How, for instance, do consumers, companies, NGOs and governments deal with the current backlash by 'Indigenous Peoples', through the use of typically Euro-American legal instruments, against cultural or bio-piracy? Is there any specificity to the way Europe relates to the culturally exotic, when compared to other 'First World' universes which may comprise within their own borders indigenous groups perceived as socio-culturally alien? Are some patterns revealed through comparison between apparently unrelated cases? Would a revised notion of 'diffusion' be of any use here?