By M. Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi
Confronts the cultural demanding situations of globalization.
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Extra info for Beyond Dichotomies: Histories, Identities, Cultures, and the Challenge of Globalization (Explorations in Postcolonial Studies)
That projection, which still serves as the foundation of what we call “the West,” inherently divides and segregates populations, cultures, areas, religions, and races. Yet it would be a mistake to think that it did so then the way it does now. From the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century, a number of writers expressed wonder at the globality just discovered but took it seriously enough to explore its social, moral, and cultural implications across a wide spectrum of philosophical and political positions.
Las Casas’ position at Valladolid was intellectually and politically defensible. It would look insane today. When did this break occur? In the nineteenth century, right at a moment when the North Atlantic nurtured jointly and with equal ardor nationalist rhetorics and myths of “scientific” racial supremacy, the scholarly world took what increasingly appears in retrospect as a “wrong turn” in the institutionalization of the human disciplines. Th e P e r s p e c t i v e o f t h e Wo r l d 11 In a context marked by the increasing evocation and deployment of state power outside of academia and the reorganization of power within institutions of knowledge, the nineteenth century saw a qualitative break in both the notion and practice of “social science” as objective knowledge of the human world.
One of its prime tasks was to make particular kinds of sense of, and give particular kinds of direction to, Europe’s interactions with the rest of the world. I have found it quite helpful to think about modernity as an identity discourse, as Europe’s (or the white world’s) 28 M a ry L o u i s e P r at t identity discourse as it assumed global dominance. The need for narratives of origins, distinctive features, and reified Others, and the policing of boundaries combined with the slippery capacity to create and erase otherness as needed are the signposts of identity discourses.
Beyond Dichotomies: Histories, Identities, Cultures, and the Challenge of Globalization (Explorations in Postcolonial Studies) by M. Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi