Kim H. Veltman

Contemporary World Issues in Cultural Diversity

Diversité culturelle, mondialisations et globalization, Université de la Mondialisation, Paris, Parc de la Villette, 4 June 2003, Paris: Université de mondialisation, 5pp. 2003 (in press).
Abstract published in French as: Enjeux internationaux présents de la diversité culturelle.

0. Introduction
1. From Centralized to Distributed
2. From Centres to National, Regional and Local
3. From Uni- to Multi-lingual
4. From Mono- to Multi-Cultural and Multi-Political
5. From Objects to Routes
6. From Static to Dynamic Knowledge
7. Conclusions

0. Introduction

It is well known that trends towards globalisation can be accompanied by tendencies towards homogeneity. Barber and others have warned of dangers of McDonaldization and a McWorld effect. In countries which strive towards a melting pot, such tendencies may well have the air of the inevitable or even a sense of manifest destiny. But as Alice’s rabbit once noted wisely, the path is determined by where we want to go, and if our goal is a unity of diversities (Ruffolo), then there are very different possibilities.

Indeed, if we look back at the past centuries from a viewpoint that transcends the turmoil of financial quarters, it quickly becomes evident that in a short hundred years the 20th century has achieved a fundamental shift in approach from centralised to distributed systems. Closely related and partly consequences of this shift are further shifts from a focus on centres to an approach that acknowledges the in-dependent and inter-dependent roles of regional and local. There are shifts from mono- to multi-lingual; from mono- to multi-cultural and multi-political; shifts from a fixation on objects to an awareness of routes and finally shifts from static to dynamic knowledge. While there are always shifts from an historical viewpoint, these six shifts are of particular interest because they bring into play fundamental contemporary issues in cultural diversity. Admittedly, if this were a classical French essay there could only be three issues. At an international level it is hoped that such high numbers will be less dizzying than the consequences of their content.

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