The concept of multiculturalism in Claude Lévi-Strauss

August 25th, 2018

Disclaimer

The article below was originally written in the form of an undergraduate assignment for the Greek Open University in 2003, during a period when the author's academic skills were still under development. Although the quality of this article does not match the quality of later examples of the same author's work, it is written in a thorough manner and contains useful information to nowadays students and other readers with non-specialised knowledge; therefore, it has been proudly included on this website.

The reader needs to be warned that the original assignment, on which this article was based on, was written in Greek and was intended to be read by specialised academics. Despite the author's best intentions to present his essay in the clearest way possible, some points and arguments might still be lost in translation. The author recommends that for any unknown words or specialised vocabulary, the readers should refer to the web for additional information.

The article is primarily based on the work of G. Paschalidis (1999), who is the only source to be referenced for the entire essay. Any additional bibliography has been added for consistency reasons. It must also be noted that some of the original bibliography for this article was studied from translated copies in Greek; therefore, the page numbers suggested in the citations below match the page numbers of the translated copies and not the original volumes.

Explanatory remarks

Before discussing the concept of multiculturalism in Claude Lévi-Strauss, there need to be some explanations that put this piece work in context. In the early 2000s, the concept of multiculturalism was treated as one of society's most undoubted principles. In Greece, the topic was heavily charged with political expediency and had become an obsession to all of those who promoted the 'politically correct' way of thinking, including academic institutions.

In 2003, the students of the Greek Open University were asked to comment on the concept of multiculturalism based on the following quote: “The diversity of human cultures lies behind, around and in front of us. The only requirement that we can put forward in this respect (a creative requirement for each person with respective duties) is to take place in forms, each of which, with its contribution, will make the others even more generous” (Lévi-Strauss 1991, 76).

In the author's personal opinion, the assignment's title equated the idea of cultural diversity according to Claude Lévi-Strauss with the concept of multiculturalism, which may not always be the same. Both concepts bear similarities; however, they could also describe different ideas. Despite the author's original disagreement with the wording of the topic, back in 2003 he felt that he could not speak up as he did not have enough academic experience to formulate arguments against his actual assignment. This is something that the author decided to do now.

The author wishes to clarify that he still does not have enough academic experience to tackle the topic, and his present intention is not to disprove Claude Lévi-Strauss' views. Still, fourteen years later, our society can see more clearly the evolution of the concept of multiculturalism, which in the opinion of some European Union leaders seems to have failed (1). The author believes that despite the axiom of cultural diversity in human societies, the political idea of multiculturalism, as this was presented during the beginnings of the numismatic unification of the European Union, consists of a concept that is not only out of date, but also needs to be readdressed under the requirements of new political agendas.

In the article below, the author's critique has been added in the form of notes, which had not been included in his original assignment. The author also feels that his notes are based on common sense and do not require academic citations.

Introduction

“The diversity of human cultures lies behind, around and in front of us. The only requirement that we can put forward in this respect (a creative requirement for each person with respective duties) is to take place in forms, each of which, with its contribution, will make the others even more generous” (Lévi-Strauss 1991, 76).

This paper discusses the concept of multiculturalism as this is presented in the above quotation by Claude Lévi-Strauss. The article is divided in two sections. The first section discusses Lévi-Strauss' views in conjunction with the social and political circumstances of the period he lived in. Some important historical events are presented to explain the development of the concept of multiculturalism in Europe and abroad. The second section presents a positive and a negative critique that Lévi-Strauss' views would have undergone, had they been measured against various social theories that existed between the 16th and 20th centuries in the Western world. The reader must bear in mind that the discussion in the second section is purely hypothetical.

Lévi-Strauss' ideas on multiculturalism

In Lévi-Strauss' quote in the previous section, the reader can understand that the diversity of human cultures is an undoubted fact. This diversity coincides with the concept of multiculturalism, which circulated widely during the second quarter of the 20th century, and suggested the simultaneous coexistence, the harmonious symbiosis and interaction of different human cultures within the same political and social environment.

The second half of the 20th century was a period of intense critique against the so-called 'absolute' social theories. Previous cultural theories were re-examined and rejected, and multiculturalism was promoted as a undoubted fact. There were also reasons to challenge the existent socio-political environment at a global level (as this had developed over the past five centuries), which led to the acceptance of the new term.

Within the borders of Europe, the first half of the 20th century was a time of intense nationalism and imperialism. It was characterised by two devastating world wars that brought European states into disarray, economic deprivation, cultural regression and social decline. Together with the defeat of Nazi Germany, there was the collapse of a system of cultural values, which suggested that the white European race was the world's most dominant. The defeat of the Axis simultaneously meant the collapse of all ideas that supported racism, nationalism, and romanticism (2).

During the second half of the 20th century Europe was divided in two 'camps' and underwent a stage of military, political and social competition between 'Western' and 'Eastern' states, which was known as the Cold War. 'Western' states introduced a series of political and social changes to support their economies and responded to the increasing intra-European economic competition. The second industrial revolution, which followed World War II, created new jobs and improved the living standards of the working classes. At the same time, migrants from different counties moved to Europe and America to work and gradually assimilated into their new societies (3).

From the 1960s onwards, there were collaborative efforts among European countries towards economic and political unification. The first unification was that of the Low Countries (BENELUX), followed by the European Economic Community (EEC). Such attempts for unification meant a simultaneous rejection of localisms and nationalisms, and the establishment of collaboration among different nations for the common good.

Outside the borders of Europe, from the end of the 19th century there were dynamic revolutions at almost every European colony, which fought for freedom and independence. In Asia, Africa and South America, many of the former European colonies rebelled for their liberty and brought down some old stereotypes, which suggested the dominion of the 'civilised' Europeans over the 'uncivilised' indigenous. By this way, the theories of evolutionism and Eurocentrism lost their importance. European countries stopped being the dominant powers of the world and were forced to interact in equal terms with the nations that they once declared 'barbaric' (4).

The proclamation of independence from former European colonies generated a demand for equal treatment from their former colonisers, not only at a national, but also at an individual level. This demand gave birth to various movements, which aimed in the abolition of racial discriminations, the respect to human rights, and the recognition of marginalised social groups, which were once seen as weak and inferior. For example, the civil rights movement in America in 1960 was the starting point for the abolition of racial discrimination between whites and blacks. Furthermore, the movement became the starting point for the broader abolition of social, political and educational discriminations, calling into question the extreme nationalism and racism that existed in Europe and the West during the beginning of the 20th century (5).

During the same period, there was the recognition of the important role of women in global history, who in previous decades were regarded as the 'weak sex' and were systematically supplanted from most social activities. The multiple and dynamic initiatives of the feminist movement in Europe and America during the 20th century played an important role in the revision of older and more conservative views on women.

Major restructures in the social hierarchy of European and non-European states led to greater democratisation of modern societies. Social groups, which could accumulate wealth and develop economic power, multiplied and enjoyed a degree of social and political influence, which they did not possess in the past. Furthermore, the establishment of public education systems, which treated all citizens on equal terms, helped in the battle against illiteracy and in increasing society's level of education and knowledge.

During the second half of the 20th century, a new term to describe the smooth coexistence between different cultural groups that lived within the same borders became a necessity. In their work, T.S. Eliot (1945) and R. Williams (1950) broadened the public views on the definition of culture in relation to different peoples. They pointed out that habits, interests, morals, customs and the most comprehensive ways of the lives of peoples are the hallmarks of their culture and the extension of their civilisation. This meant that the cultural features of each group needed to be accepted and respected; therefore, there could have been a smooth coexistence of different cultural groups within the same national and political environment. This coexistence was not intended to be passive, as cultures did not act independently, but were in constant interaction and exchange of cultural information (6). Even within the same cultural entity, perceptions of culture differed according to the age, sex and social status of each participant (Boas 1940).

The arrival of migrants from areas with different social and cultural background generated the circumstances for the accumulation of different cultural elements among different cultural groups (7). The rapid technological advance led to the development of communications, which was the second factor that contributed greatly to the exchange of cultural information among people. New broadcasting and communication media were introduced to Western societies: radio, cinema, television, large scale book publications, magazines, newspapers, comics, audiovisual means, and most of all, internet communications and informatics. The interaction between different cultural groups inspired the introduction of new art-forms and the promotion of new artists. The media played important role in the circulation and exchange of cultural information, which brought different cultural groups closer together.

According to the view of Claude Lévi-Strauss, every person who has been charged with the creative duty of promoting a culture, must contribute so generously, so that this person's example will be followed by many others, who will adopt such features and contribute even more to their own cultural group. This view aligns with Boas (1940), who stresses the dynamics of different human cultures, which interconnect, inter-react and constantly exchange cultural information among them.

A hypothetical critique of Claude Lévi-Strauss' views across five centuries

A review of the basic approaches on culture and civilisation from the 16th century until the time of Claude Lévi-Strauss shows great differences and the obvious absence of the term multiculturalism. Despite the negative critique that Lévi-Strauss' views would have faced in previous centuries, there would have probably been scholars, who without recognising the word multiculturalism, they would have agreed with most of Lévi-Strauss' points.

A potentially negative critique

The 16th century was a period of strong competition among European kingdoms for the conquest of the New World; therefore, Lévi-Strauss' views on the diversity of human cultures would have been reprehensible. For example, the Spanish theologian and philosopher Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda (1550) claimed in his 'Democrates alter de justis belli causis apud Indos' that the Indians of the New World were spiritually and culturally inferior, and legitimised the use of force by the Europeans who were there to 'civilise' them. It is obvious that during the 16th century, the cultural identity of the 'New Peoples' was not only disrespected, but it was also subject to violent interventions and alterations, which would have been unacceptable during the 20th century.

The Enlightment movement, which followed during the 17th and 18th centuries, would have probably felt divided in relation to Lévi-Strauss' views on the diversity of cultures. The movement included several 'liberal' scholars that would have partly agreed with such views (e.g. Rousseau, Montesquieu and Voltaire); however, the vast majority of the Enlightment would have argued against Lévi-Strauss. According to the Enlightment's principles, civilisation was a complex, unified and universal concept. It associated with social, cultural and technological progress at a global level, and it was achieved via smaller evolutionary steps, during which man was guided by Sound Reason. If society was to achieve cultural development, people needed to be free and live happy. Happiness was achieved through virtue, and freedom was achieved through the development of the mind, meaning through the knowledge that would lead to technological and scientific progress as a result of Sound Reason. To define the evolutionary phases towards cultural perfection, the scholars of the Elightment divided the human species into savage/barbarian and civilised categories (e.g. Holbach, Condorcet). The Elightment scholars believed that the civilised state did not characterise the state of 17th century Europe, but is was a vision for mankind's future. At that time, Europe role was believed to be restricted in the illumination of the first steps towards civilisation by the less civilised peoples. Despite the presence of different levels in the course towards civilisation, the Elightment attempted to define a strict universal system for all peoples, which was by definition against the principles of free will and conscious preservation of cultural diversity as these were established during the 20th century. Furthermore, the Elightment perceived the exchange of cultural information as a 'one-way system', where Europe was the one offering and had nothing to receive in exchange. In that sense, the theory of multiculturalism would have not not only criticised, but it would have also rejected the Enlightment's visions on a unique and universal civilisation.

The German scholars of the European Enlightment of the 18th century would have probably produced a negative critique against multiculturalism. Scholars such as Johann Elias Schlegel (1719-1749) and Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) admitted the multiplicity of cultures and civilisations, and supported the preservation of cultural identity through literature and art. Despite such views, the 18th century in Germany was a period of constant dispute with the neighbouring France. The German scholars of that period presented their ideas by aiming in the exaltation of Germany's moral and by anticipating the exit from the 'barbarity' attributed to their country by other European nations. Herder took his arguments a step further and suggested that an autonomous cultural entity must have had the form of a sovereign nation-state. For Herder, civilisation did not consist of a global concept but was defined by distinct boarders of nation-states (on Herder's ideas see Barnard 1967; 2003). Such states were obliged to safeguard and preserve the integrity and cultural identity of their peoples (8). Herder's views set the basis for nationalism, which supported that each nation should represent a separate cultural community and it should also consist of a separate political entity. Even nowadays, nationalism is the main movement rejecting the ideas of multiculturalism (9).

The romanticism movement (c. 1760-1870), which flourished during a transitional period for European history, would have probably been divided in relation to the ideas of Claude Lévi-Strauss. Judging by the nationalist character of romanticism during the years of the Franco-German conflict (1792-1815), and also in relation to a its shift towards a nationalist thematology in literature and pictorial arts, one can clearly note the influence of Herder's ideas on early romanticism. It is likely that romanticism scholars would have stood against Lévi-Strauss, who openly spoke about interaction and mutual exchange of cultural elements.

As noted earlier, the European 19th century was highly influenced by Herder's views, which meant that most intellectual movements of that period would have stood against multiculturalism. The evolutionism theory, for example, consisted of an alternative to what the scholars of the Enlightment had suggested a century earlier. Although such scholars viewed Europe as the light-bearer of all cultures, showing the way to their common destination and civilising all 'barbaric' nations, the scholars of evolutionism had a different opinion. Evolutionism was initially influenced by the views of Lewis H. Morgan (1877), who defined evolutionary stages in relation to the common process towards civilisation. Furthermore, evolutionism was strengthened by the theory of natural selection by Charles Darwin (1859). With the excuse of cultural diffusion, European nations violated the rights of weaker nations, which were considered culturally inferior; they promoted their own ideas and imperialism, which resulted to colonialism and the occupation of territories which once belonged to supposedly weaker nations.

The European superiority, as this was understood in the 19th century, was not only due to the ideas of evolutionism. Herder's theories were combined with the views of Friedrich Liszt (1841) and offered ground for the development of various hypotheses in relation to the racial superiority of white people. The movement of racism, which was basically the legitimisation of racial superstitions, is still the main ideology against multiculturalism. In its earlier form, racism forbid any cultural interaction between white Europeans and non-white peoples.

The historicism movement of the 19th century was also influenced by Herder's ideas. According to historicism, the past was treated individually, which meant that every historical moment was supposed to be examined as a single and autonomous entity with unique cultural physiognomy (Zeitgeist). With this in mind, a historian could neither detect and isolate the forms of harmonious symbiosis between different cultures, nor analyse the exchange of cultural information among them. This approach would have contrasted with the principles of multiculturalism, as historicism did not believe in the coexistence and assimilation of different cultural elements within the same geographical space.

During the second half of the 20th century, Western society was mature enough to critique the social theories of the past; therefore, the concept of multiculturalism started to become acceptable. Despite the general agreement of later scholars with Lévi-Strauss' views, Raymond Williams (1950) would have probably disagreed. Although Williams accepted that the elements consisting of the overall lifestyle are features of a community's cultural identity, on the other hand he believed that a community's culture was internally coherent and hermetic. His main disagreement with Lévi-Strauss would have focused on the cultural interaction and exchange of cultural features among communities, which in his opinion did not exist.

A potentially positive critique

Starting again from the 16th century, the reader can note a number of theorist, who would have probably supported Lévi-Strauss' views and they would have probably prepared the ground for the acceptance of multiplicity among cultures at an early historical stage. A response to the ideas of European nationalism would have been the views of Michel de Montaigne (1580) in his essay “Of Cannibals”, where he discussed the concept of barbarity. According to Montaigne, there was absolutely nothing savage and barbarous in relation to the people that Europe convicted as barbarians. In reality, Europeans viewed as barbarity whatever stood outside their everyday values and habits. In that sense, Montaigne was the first who set the basis for cultural relativism. This theory suggested that any comparison between civilised and barbarous, and any judgement on barbarity, takes place in accordance to the values and habits of the place people live in. Touching on Lévi-Strauss' views, Michel de Montaigne would have agreed that the multiplicity of human cultures is literally everywhere.

During the 17th century, Montaigne's ideas were not popular; however, during the early 18th century, many scholars of the French Enlightment accepted his views and integrated them in theories that would have been in favour of Lévi-Strauss' multiculturalism. Montesqueieu and Voltaire established a new methodology in the study of societies and cultures, based on their distinct characteristics: political and social institutions, religion, values, customs, art and other features would have defined the nature of a cultural group. This meant that the individual character of each culture was not only to be respected, but it also consisted of a separate are of study. In his “Persian Letters”, Montesqueieu (1721) employed the idea of cultural relativism to satirise the vanity and hypocrisy of the French 'high' society, and mock the cultural model it had imposed.

Another scholar of the French Elightment, who was against the corrupt ideas of his time, was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In his “Discourse on the Arts and Sciences”, Rousseau (1750) critiqued the developments in the arts and sciences and argued that the circulation of any new ideas that could have corrupted human morality consisted of danger. Due to his views, Rousseau was always regarded as the 'black sheep' of the French Enlightment: he radicalised and went against the movement; he critiqued any alternative views on scientific and technological progress; he denounced the hypocritical views of his time on civilisation, and he advised the people to move towards nature, tradition and national heritage. Rousseau would have probably agreed with Lévi-Strauss in denouncing any absolute definitions of culture and in accepting cultural multiplicity. It is ironic that Rousseau's ideas were originally welcomed by scholars who would have probably stood against multiculturalism, such as Herder , the nationalists and the romanticists.

Most of the romanticism scholars would have disagreed with Levi-Strauss' views; however, during the transition to the 19th century, there would have probably been some scholars of the romantic approach, who would have probably agreed with some of Lévi-Strauss' points on multiculturalism. This approach would have been due to the dual nature of romanticism: on one hand, there was the nationalist fraction, which was influenced by Herder's ideas, and on the other hand, there was the naturalist fraction, which was still influenced by Rousseau. Both fractions of romanticism would have had different views in relation to cultural diversity and the exchange of cultural information among cultural groups. The nationalist fraction would have separated and isolated any different cultures, which would have been described as independent civilisations, while the naturalist fraction would have probably accepted the laws of harmonious symbiosis and interaction that were valid in every natural system.

During the 19th century, views on cultural multiplicity began to change. E.B. Tylor (1881) argued that culture and civilisation are complex aggregations, which consist of knowledge, beliefs, religion, art, ethics, laws, customs, habits and abilities that a person acquires in the society he/she lives in. Tylor probably prepared the ground for the development of social anthropology or ethnology, a science that aimed in the identification and recording of distinct characteristics of cultural groups. Tylor and the social anthropologists who followed his approach would have been the first scholars who would have welcomed Lévi-Strauss' views on multiculturalism.

During the early 20th century, next the nationalist views there appeared some new approaches on culture and civilisation of the so-called Frankfurt School, funded in 1923 by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. During 1930s, both scholars were deeply concerned about the rise of national socialism in Germany; therefore, their views stood against the ideas of nationalism and racism. Furthermore, they rejected the absolute views of the Elightment on the linear evolution towards civilisation, and stood against any loss of cultural identity of any social group.

During the second half of the 20th century, there would have been more scholars who would have supported Claude Lévi-Strauss. The first one would have probably been the American anthropologists Franz Boas, who was also Lévi-Strauss' tutor. According to Boas (1940), human cultures were in a constant state of transformation. They interacted simultaneously, they exchanged cultural elements and were constantly involved in a dynamic system of communication. This view suggested the opposite compared to the theory by Raymond Williams, who argued that cultures favouritised their isolation. Franz Boas introduced a new perspective on how cultures should be viewed and understood, which was also followed by his student, Claude Lévi-Strauss. In his understanding, every cultural identity was dynamic and hybrid (10). It transformed under the influence of various heterogeneous elements and also produced reverse transformations. The absorption of such elements from members of the same cultural community was not always the same. People were affected differently in relation to their social status, age, level of education, life experiences and a variety of other aspect characterising their lives. Boas' theory consisted of an important addition in cultural studies, as it rejected the absolute conclusions of theories established in earlier centuries. Instead, Boas focused in the accumulation of culture at an individual level, recognising that every person can and should accept those cultural elements according to his/her own judgement (11).

Conclusions

This paper discussed why multiculturalism was finally accepted during the second half of the 20th century, a period during which Claude Lévi-Strauss presented his own views on the topic. The 20th century was characterised by flexible and open-minded views on multiculturalism, which followed the rejection of previous social theories. First came the deconstruction of the Enlightment's myth on the existence of a 'one and only' universal route towards civilisation; this was followed by the failure of European ethnocentrism, which was marked by the collapse of nationalist states after the end of World War II, and the rejection of racism in the 1960s. Such events, prepared the ground for the construction of a theoretical framework that would allow the concept of multiculturalism to flourish.

Next to this theoretical framework, the 20th century welcomed a series of political and social reforms, which assisted in the harmonious symbiosis and communication of different cultural groups. These were the development of public education systems, the introduction of democratic institutions in the societies, the rise of the living standards in the West, the welcoming of foreign labour force in Europe, the rise of feminism, the decline of racism and the development of legislation that did not marginalise various cultural and social groups (12). In relation to communications, during the 20th century there was the appearance of new technologies, which allowed an effortless and creative cultural interaction. The creative use of various multicultural elements was first introduced by new artists and intellectuals, who showed new ways towards cultural production (13).

During a theoretical and hypothetical comparison of previous views on culture and civilisation in relation to Lévi-Strauss' views, it was noted that despite the different approaches that existed during the previous five centuries, there were always scholars whose views would have been compatible with the 20th century. A negative critique on multiculturalism would have probably been presented by the colonialist movement of the 16th century; the European nationalist movement; the Enlightmnt of the 17th and 18th centuries; the intellectual and philosophical movements that were influenced by Herder; the scholars of 19th century's evolutionism and its derivative theories (racism, nationalism, romanticism and historicism); and finally, by Raymond Williams during the 20th century. On the other hand, there would have been a positive critique on multiculturalism by Michel de Montaigne during the 16t century; by the 'heretics' of the French Enlightment of the 18th century, such as Rousseau, Montesquieu and Voltaire; by a fraction of the romanticism scholars who shared the naturalist approach; and by the School of Frankfurt. Finally, during the 20th century, there would have been a positive approach to multiculturalism by the ethnologists and sociologists of that time, and by the pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas.

Bibliography

Barnard, F.M, 2003, Herder on Nationality, Humanity, and History, Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.
Barnard, F.M, 1967, Herder's Social and Political Thought: From Enlightenment to Nationalism, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Boas, F., 1940, Race, Language and Culture, Chicago: the University of Chicago Press.
Darwin, C., 1859, On the Origins of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, London: John Murray.
Eliot, T.S., 1945, What is a Classic?, London: Faber and Faber.
Lévi-Strauss, C., 1991, Race and History, translated by E. Papazoglou, Athens: Gnosi.
Lizst, F., 1841, Das nationale System der politischen Ökonomie,Stuttgart: Cotta'schen Verlag.
Morgan, L.H., 1877, Ancient Society or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilisation, Chicago: C.H. Kerr and Company.
Paschalidis, G., 1999, 'An introduction to the concept of civilisation', in Vasilou-Papageorgiou, V. (ed.) Introduction to the Greek Civilisation, Vol.1, The Concept of Civilisation, Views of the Greek Civilisation, Patra: Greek Open University, 21-102.
Tylor, E.B., 1881, Anthropology: an Introduction to the Study of Man and civilization, London: Macmillan.
Williams, R., 1950, Reading and Criticism, London: Frederick Muller.

Notes

  1. For example:
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/17/angela-merkel-german-multiculturalism-failed
  2. This is not entirely true. For example, the repression of the Mau Mau Uprising by the British in Kenya included a series of tactics that did not differ compared to the Nazi approach.
  3. The situation in the 'Eastern' countries was different; however, it was not discussed in the original assignment, which was about 'Western' multiculturalism. In general, 'Eastern' European socialism did not believe in diversities other than those of the Marxist approach. Although cultural diversities existed in 'Eastern' European states, their manifestations were usually suppressed in such ways, that no real multiculturalism was ever developed. Unfortunately, some socialist-minded academics in 'Western' institutions do not agree that 'Eastern' European socialism suppressed cultural diversities; instead they prefer to see that the communist version of social equality allowed a form of 'Eastern' multiculturalism to exist somewhere at the background. This cannot be true as the subjects of such 'multiculturalism' were never given the opportunity to reject it or even disagree with it. At this point I wish to become sarcastic and state that when this assignment on multiculturalism was handed to the class back in 2003, disagreement was also not an option for most of the students!
  4. Again, this is not true. The European countries that were sent away from their former colonies, still had full control over the bureaucracy and production mechanisms of these countries. Such economic control, which was later passed on to the hands of Western private enterprises, never allowed most of these former colonies to recover and function as truly independent nation-states.
  5. During the time of writing in 2003, this statement represented the 'politically correct' view that an academic assignment was expected to follow. Efforts for the abolition of discriminations in modern societies still carry on, though often without much success. The 1960s were a period when liberal ideas were introduced in the 'Western' societies, though it took a long time for such ideas to flourish. What is interesting about the 21st century, though, is that the process of abolishing discriminations automatically generates other forms of 'acceptable' social discriminations (e.g. the so called 'positive' discriminations).
  6. This is again not true. The level of interaction within a group is both a cultural and a personal decision. The existence of ghettos probably shows that such interactions between different cultural groups are in reality more complex and less idealised.
  7. Again, this point relates to an idealised situation. Examples of cultural resistance were also noted during the 20th century; however, the prevailing scholarly views saw such cases of cultural resistance as new hybrid cultures, which could have easily been justified as other by-product of multiculturalism.
  8. Note that in Herder's views there is only one cultural identity per group of people. The idea of multicultural nation-states does not exist in his approach.
  9. This is still the case, although recently multiculturalism has been critiqued by a number of scholars who come from the 'central' political spectrum.
  10. It is interesting that in Western philosophy hybridism is regarded as the creative accumulation of different cultural or biological features, and is perceived as a positive condition. In biology, however, hybridism describes the birth a cross-breed organism, which combines features of two parents of different breeds. In the ancient Greek cosmos, such breeding was not acceptable and was regarded as Hubris, which is a state of sacrilegious arrogance. The linguistic connections between hubris and hybrid are obvious.
  11. A problem with this theory is that it pre-supposes that human judgement is independent. In reality, human judgement is to a large extent depended on external (and often manipulated) parameters, such as fashion, political views, popular culture, social beliefs, religion, ideologies and cultural stereotypes. If humans are to decide whether to accumulate or reject various cultural elements, one must always wonder if such decision is in reality based on 'free' will. And is there such thing as free will after all?
  12. This could have been the case in an ideal world. In reality “it takes two to tango”. This means that even if one party decides to generate a functional framework for the harmonious symbiosis of different cultural groups, this does not necessarily mean that the other parties will accept it. And as mentioned earlier, such acceptance and rejection is not always a personal decision made at an individual level.
  13. In reality, this happened because the production of hybrid artistic products, which combined a variety of multicultural elements, was severely advertised and was intended to sell and generate profit. With this in mind, could it be likely that multiculturalism was another artistic and intellectual fashion?