Similarity in Diversity: Reflections of Malaysian and American Exchange Scholars

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Observing the Scots, "Boswell has made an observation to Dr. Johnson that 'it was about the same to be in an indigenous tribe', for the villagers 'were as dark and rustic as any American salvage'" Burke However, there was a change in the exotic idea in the 19 th century. The nationalist movement - seen in the Romantic and in the folklorist movements - started the process of collection and appreciation of popular culture as essential symbols of the national cultures Ortiz It is the popular culture that will be raised to national culture, along with the culture of the elite.

It means that, in the 19 th century, popular culture found in the European soil became part of the national identities and, as such, was no longer considered as part of the discourse of exoticism. There was a breach in its discourse, and in the 19 th century it reaches stabilization: the discourse of exoticism becomes the one referred to the culture seen as originally from "the rest of the world", to use a sadly recognizable expression.

In the contemporary moment, as diversity is appreciated, the discourse of exoticism is devaluated. It is certainly not true everywhere, as I will admit below, but it may be confidently affirmed that the discourse of exoticism is a disputable way of addressing other cultures today. The most legitimate international institution dedicated to the defense of cultural otherness, UNESCO, actually condemns it as against cultural diversity.

In its World Report: Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue , from , the word "exotic", or the variants "exoticism", "exoticization" or "exoticize", is used only five times, in a document of pages of length, and always in a negative light. Some tourists travel looking for exotic places to visit. At the same time, countries make many efforts to create such places, staging some type of authenticity MacCannell For sure exoticism is an important element of every country to attract tourists, even for the former imperial power. In fact, as Ellen Strain 37 puts it, "touristic pleasure was made possible through the creation of a safety zone within which the exhilaration of geographical proximity with an exoticized stranger could exist without compromising other, less literal, forms of distance".

However, rarely there is a country that organizes its promotion by reducing it to the discourse of exoticism. In fact, even countries that clearly create and promote "exotic places" for tourism do not affirm their culture simply as exotic and may, in fact, try to deny this notion when defining the country image. In other words, if exoticism may be an important touristic product for every country to promote its tourism, and other products, it cannot be the discourse to organize the production of its identity or culture.

I bring one example to elucidate my point. At the occasion I asked him what image the instantiation wanted to promote of Brazil. His answer points to the issue stated above:. There are some countries that want a total rupture and the building of a new image. In our case, we do not want a total rupture, because we continue to like soccer, we will keep on enjoying Carnival. But we have more to show. So, this is the direction we follow when we talk about diversity, both natural and cultural, and modernity, modernity in the sense of seeking to take Brazil away from that image that still exists in some markets, that Brazil is an exotic destination such as various countries in Asia.

Brazil is not an exotic country. The idea is to keep tradition, to keep what is known, but modernized, adding new elements to this image. Therefore, for national and international agents related to the production of otherness, exoticism has become a degrading discourse. Interestingly, as it must have been noticed above, diversity has become a positive discourse for the same agents.

In order to understand that we must start by stating that the instantiations that clearly separated the internal from the external, in cultural terms, are not operative today as they were before. The end of colonial wars - and the overall assumption that the colonial era was perverse to the former colonies -, along with the general judgment of the World War II, changed the perspective of Europe in History. Its condition to dictate the universal discourses, according to which the world was organized, is not acceptable anymore as it used to be.

In fact, what once has been understood as universalism has become merely eurocentrism Biebricher 48 ; Laclau 50 and the universal became particular, a matter of "ethnocentrism of the white tribe" Juliano In sum, the positivity of the universal discourse, found in the 19 th century, became a negative assumption, linked to the European domination Schulte It means that the idea of progress loses its legitimacy. Many authors realized that, since the last quarter of the 20 th century, we are not sure about progress anymore Latour 15, 16 ; Brunkhorst ; Lyotard ; Rapp As a consequence, there is no security to affirm the cultural differences as based upon diverse moments of evolution.

Therefore, at least in the public space and in the intellectual field, we can no longer calmly use an expression such as "primitive people". There is a rupture in a fundamental separation of the Self the European and the Other the primitive. Now, we all live in the same time, each of us addressing it according to our conditions. And if we live in the same time, we also live in the same space. The last of those aforementioned instantiations that keep exoticism as the discourse to organize the difference is the nation.

Globalization destabilizes this condition and, as a consequence, makes us uncertain about what is internal and what is external. For my concerns here, it is important to think about two processes related to globalization. One is the immigration trend of the last fifty years. It is not an impressive number, but still relevant if we notice that from to the number of immigrants went up from 82 million to million United Nations However, more important than the number per se is how it is distributed.

Inverting a trend of two centuries, the migration now flows to the European countries. And not only that, it flows to the global cities, where it becomes a more visible social fact Sassen Thus, in metropolitan France ultramarine departments and territories are not considered here immigrants formed 8. Immigration to the United States, on the contrary, is not new and between and the country received 69 million immigrants.

However, the recent flow is as exceptionally intense as to the European countries, and out of this total Such a trend can only be compared, in American History, to the first decade of the 20 th century Office of Immigration Statistics In , the immigrants formed As important as the amount of immigration, and its concentration in the global cities, it is the qualitative aspect of it.

It is remarkable that this enormous contingent of immigrants living in the global cities come mostly from countries away from the European space. Immigration is important to my analysis because it questions the separation of the internal and the external, as the "Self" and the "Other" came to live in the same space. Therefore, it is no longer possible to consider exotic the culture of the "Other" based upon the assumption that the "Other" is external to the "Self". This way, the difference must be produced upon other bases. The edges imposed by the nation-state, in terms of cultural affiliation, are also questioned by the flow of information.

Cultural expressions now circulate the globe in ways and in speeds never imaged in the 19 th century, creating what Arjun Appadurai called ethnoscapes that cannot be determined by the nation-state alone Appadurai Moreover, with the Internet this circulation even suspends the national borders, and now who has access to a cultural expression does not know for sure where it is executed, if not in the Internet itself. Therefore, cultural expressions become indigenous to territories from where they were alienated in the 19 th century.

As the so-called Western cultures now inhabit the East, non-Western cultures are part of the identity of Western countries Veer 8. The culture of the Other is no longer external to something. We do not have any stable instantiation to assure these boundaries, as there was in the 19 th century. Once again, this is not to say that the boundaries have fallen or that we all have the same national condition to operate in the world, but to say that the stable boundaries that separate the internal and external are questioned, while other boundaries are getting into place.

Nevertheless, currently "home and abroad", "self and other", "savage and civilized" are not clearly opposed terms Clifford , p. There is one last issue that highlights the devaluation of the discourse of exoticism in the present. I mentioned above that this discourse was based on the fundamental difference of the narrated and the narrator. It happens now, when the cultural flow floods globally, that the narrated has a great amount of interest in the narration about itself. I refer here to the commodification of identity that turns it into a value in the international market of symbols.

As John L. In the research studies I carried out in the music and in the tourist markets 10 investigating the articulation of identity in the global space I could confirm the assumption herein. In fact, the trade fairs related to these businesses are mainly organized in national pavilions 11 where national and local offices enhance branding efforts in order to build a positive image of their nation, state, ethnic groups, etc. It means that these offices want to assume the protagonism of the representation of a culture in the global space, basing this claim on a contemporary tendency that sees the self-representation as the legitimate form of representation Kirshenblatt-Gimblett In other words, the difference between the narrator and the narrated is not so clearly given anymore, as the narrated has the interest, and acquires legitimacy to, of narrating itself.

Therefore, exoticism is still present among us.

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It may be a useful description for small ethnic groups or local regions to promote themselves, as it is the case of Sarawak, a province in Malaysia, that aims to attract tourists looking for "a place for History, mystery, romance and exotic adventures" It may also be articulated to promote touristic products within a nation, being it an "exotic" or a European nation.

In the present exoticism may signify something related to not only India or Turkey as in the 19 th century , but also to a European country or the United States. Thus, currently, it is not difficult to book a tour through "exotic" Paris, "exotic" New York or "exotic" London. However, and here comes my argument, exoticism can hardly be a useful discourse to produce or self-produce broader cultures and identities. In the case of nations - as shown above - exoticism may even become a cursed word.

It is so, first because exoticism brings back the past described above, in which the culture of the Other means archaism, primitivism. In the global capitalism, primitivism may become a commodity of high value, but it cannot limit the definition of broader cultures or nations interested in entering in the world of modern businesses.

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More important to my argument is that there is no institution in the present that may regulate the production of difference in any broader cultural sphere. As stated by Nancy Fraser , today. Rather, a multiplicity of institutions regulates a multiplicity of action arenas according to different patterns of cultural value, at least some of which are mutually incompatible.

Take the national identity as a case. As stated, nations now make use of their identity in the international market and this fact alone already pluralizes the instantiations related to the production of difference, as at least each nation becomes an agent in the process. However, even within nations identities are not produced by a single master institution, but by disperse instantiations, both located within the nations or abroad. As Tim Edensor 30 states, "national identity is now situated within an ever-shifting matrix, a multidimensional, dynamic of networks.

Within such a matrix, national identity is being continually redistributed ". A concrete example of this redistribution of national identity may be taken from the music market, once again. Since the beginning of the s the government of the state of Pernambuco, in Brazil, sponsors a project called Music from Pernambuco.


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Government representatives and music producers travel to music trade fairs around the world distributing compilations in order to promote the music of that state abroad. It is of interest for my argument to notice that the idea behind the project is to affirm Pernambuco as part of the Brazilian identity, widening the most traditional account of it. This assumption is confirmed in the first compilation released by the project.

We can read in it that what inspired the production of the compilation and its promotion abroad, "is the fact that most international agents, bookers and music promoters have never visited Pernambuco and their knowledge of Brazil is restricted to Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. So, when you hear this compilation, you might have an idea of the richness and diversity of the music produced in Pernambuco" in: Nicolau Netto The fact that national identities are now commonly defined as diversity, as aforementioned, lies exactly in productions as this.

Therefore, the production of difference in the present must be carried out with a discourse that is flexible enough to be articulated by various agents, with different cultural elements and interests. The exoticism must fit in in this discourse, but its restrictiveness prevents it from being the one to organize the production of difference.

Diversity, because of its flexibility, can be that discourse. Armand Mattelart says that "the appeal to cultural diversity is a generic interpellation, a trap that includes contradictory realities and positions, open to every contextual commitment" 13 and concludes that cultural diversity is an "amorphous concept" Mattelart is worried about the political implications of using cultural diversity instead of other political concepts, such as cultural exception.

What interests me about Mattelart's assumption is that diversity is an open discourse, flexible enough to produce difference in a moment of reflexive modernity Beck, Giddens, Lash: , in which social practices, such as the formation of identity, are no longer assumed as "given" by instantiation, but the result of a negotiation between agents and multiple instantiations. Therefore, currently, difference has become diverse, which means it is never stable and can be continuously produced and resignified.

It means that, in the 21 st century, difference becomes the result of daily struggles that never come to an end. Most importantly, all the agents in dispute will strive to produce the difference according to their interests and under certain conditions. These conditions are no longer given by an overarching instantiation, but by multiple ones, such as social movements, market, politics, academia, media, etc.

It does not mean difference is now freely produced. On the contrary, if the discourse of diversity opens up the production of difference, social agents will put their forces into action in order to determine the difference according to their interests. Social movements of human rights and global media corporations, for instance, are both producing difference in the global space, undoubtedly, but certainly they do it in an unequal and unbalanced way and it is fair to say that the images globally produced of, for example, the Islamic culture, is much more a production of those corporations than of the movements.

Therefore, it is important for any social analysis to question the forces in power producing difference nowadays. However, to question that is to realize that the difference is ceaseless produced in the discourse of diversity. That is why difference may be used for discrimination and for politics of recognition, as a meaning of protection and threat for individuals, for oppression and emancipation.

The legitimacy of the discourse of diversity is based on its flexibility to address the difference in the contemporary moment. Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London, New York: Verson. Modernity at large. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Branding the nation: the global business of national identity. Josephine: the hungry heart. New York: Cooper Square Press. Berlin: Colloquium Verlag. Ethnic groups and boundaries: the social organization of social culture. Boston: Little Brown and Company.

Reflexive modernization: politics, tradition and aesthetics in the modern social order. The exotic in western music. Boston: Northern University Press.

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Patterns of culture. New York: Mariner Books. In: C. Mandry ed. How musical is man? Seattle and London : University of Washington Press. Hamburg: Junius. Cultura popular na Idade Moderna. The predicament of culture. Twentieth-century ethnography, literature, and art. Ethnicity, inc. Campinas: Editora Unicamp. In: Durkheim.

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National identity, popular culture and everyday life. New York, Oxford: Berg.


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A arqueologia do saber. Statistisches Jahrbuch Frankfurt am Main. Retrieved Julho 14, , from Frankfurt. In: N. Honneth eds. A political-philosophical exchange. London, New York: Verso.

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Format : Softcover. Dimensions : 6x9. Page Count : ISBN : Results 1 - 9 of 9 Similarity in Diversity: Reflections of Malaysian and American Similarity in Diversity documents experiential learning of exchange scholars. This study examines cultural differences and similarities in design of university of university home pages from Malaysia, Austria, the United States, Ecuador, most commonly spoken second language in the world , American, British, may publish Web pages in English to facilitate academic exchange of. American Studies awards also called Study of the U. Click to read reflections from Fulbright Scholars in American Studies and learn.

In keeping with its function of stimulating international reflection, UNESCO Better knowledge and recognition of our respective differences leads Cultural diversity invites us to think in terms of a plural humanity, from mutual receptiveness, from the sharing and exchange of knowledge. Malaysia's ethnic diversity is both a blessing and a source of stress. Malaysians easily exchange ideas and techniques with the rest of the world, and have an sharp difference between space inside the home and outside the home, with.. Malaysians watch diverse programming: the standard export American fare.

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Malaysian food cultures originate from various sources representing different regional types. Rather, intercultural exchanges that do not exclude the traditional come to Instead, these cuisines may reflect the differences foisted on and as reflecting a shared fondness for distinctive spices and sauces. In comparison to Latin America, the Asian model has facilitated higher and less Both Asia and Latin America are, of course, big places with enormous internal diversity; South Korea, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia - are all to be found in Asia.

Scientists, scientific articles, books, and events important for the foundation Biodiversity is the contracted form of biological diversity and it first appeared in. Conservation biology has become the main arena for reflection and. Hillman et al. Konfrontasi, Malaysia— exchanges For constructivist scholars like Amitav Acharya, shared identity is key to. In this essay I consider how institutions of higher education value diversity by Reflecting on the challenges of devising categories to meaningfully portray the In fact, the racial diversification of the U.