Multiculturalism

Clay Shirky clay@shirky.com
Tue, 23 Oct 2001 11:30:25 -0400 (EDT)


> Yup, we disagree. I see a spectrum of reasonable opinion, and you don't. Not
> much to add to that.

You "see a spectrum of reasonable opinion." What can that possibly mean? 

Discussions on FoRK rarely (never?) end when the participants agree --
they generally end when the opinions have been clarified. In this
case, I can't tell if you even _have_ an opinion -- you say you like
distinct cultures and dislike blending, but in the only example used
here, where a distinct culture was faced with secularization, you
supported blending.

So here's another example, dateline Guyana, from the NY Times:

  This village in the remote southern savannas, little more than an
  airstrip and scattered mud huts, could easily be taken for one of
  those far-flung places untouched by the digital revolution. It had
  no phones until two years ago, and the concept of paying with money
  is still quite foreign to many residents.

  But it was in this community of 2,000 people that an organization
  formed by indigenous women of two tribes revived the ancient art of
  hand-weaving large hammocks from locally grown cotton -- and then
  took their exquisite wares online. They hired a young member to
  create a Web site. And last year, they sold 17 hammocks to people
  around the world for as much as $1,000 apiece, gigantic sums in
  these parts.

  Perhaps too gigantic. [...] Threatened by the women's success,
  regional leaders moved in and took control of the weavers'
  organization. The woman who created the Web site quit in a fury, and
  the group has been struggling since then to get by.

  "It is the classic tale of old power reacting to new power," said
  Terry Roopnaraine, an expert on the indigenous population here who
  teaches at Cambridge University. "When you bring in the Internet and
  start to empower people, that doesn't maintain the status quo. So
  the status quo quite rationally reacts to defend its interests."

  [Pointer to full text at http://www.shirky.com/guyana.html, to save
  you the $2.50 from QPass]

Where would you come down on this particular clash of distinct culture
with the modern world?

-clay