Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Omniculturalism - LSE lecture

It is not a new policy problem. The Romans had to deal with it. The Ottomans had their methods: incorporating different cultures into one state. The modern name is multiculturalism or assimilation? Neither seem to be viable. At the London School of Economics (LSE Public Lectures and Events) Professor Fathali Moghaddam was invited to present his alternative coined Omniculturalism.

Moghaddam first of all makes a point of showing how neither multiculturalism nor assimilation can be successful. Multiculturalism, as it accepts difference, is just too naive - we all know that. But Moghaddam's strength is how he shows very convincingly the fatal conceptual weakness of multiculturalism; how it cannot work psychologically and how it is too relativistic. Similarly he defeats assimilation.

His alternative omniculturalism seems to me closer to multiculturalism, just a little less naive. In stead of putting all the differences cheerfully in the forefront, omniculturalism begins by stating what people have in common. It argues that education should be based on that and only secondarily, and inevitably, we will find our differences, but having started from common ground, it will be easier to accept each other and resolve conflict.

More LSE Events:
Controversies in the Economics of Climate Change,
Nudge: decision architecture,
The EU and the Middle East,
The British Mandate in Palestine,
Iran Today.

Surviving those family dinners on the holidays

The stories of the fictional podcast Namaste Stories (feed) have a surrealist feel, but they seem profoundly real as well, autobiographical perhaps. In any case, there is a persistent personal perspective in these stories by Dave P.

In the last story (Wall of Gurus), I could very much sympathize with him. It was a Thanksgiving Dinner with the extended family; the posed idyll, the obligations of the occasion, the codes of good manners. In short the tensions rises to a breaking point and it starts to take tremendous efforts not to led this forced togetherness explode into a raging row. It could be Christmas or Passover just the same. What's up next? Shavuot - the vicious cycle never stops.

More Namaste and Dave P:
The new direction of Dave P,
New York Coffee Cup,
Namaste Stories, podcast as an art,
Namaste Stories, fiction podcast.