Cultural Politics: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Jon Stewart, Visiting Scholar, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University.
Panagiotis Roilos, Faculty Associate. George Seferis Professor of Modern Greek Studies, Department of the Classics; Professor of Comparative Literature, Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard University.
Dimitrios Yatromanolakis, Associate Professor, Department of Classics, Department of Anthropology, and the Humanities Center, The Johns Hopkins University.
Globalization has in a sense made the world smaller by bringing different cultures into contact with one another. This has often led to misunderstanding and even conflict since this contact obliges people to confront the differences between the values of their culture and those of others. One of the major fault lines of these misunderstandings concerns the nature and role of the individual. In traditional cultures the focus tends to be more on the group, with the person being primarily conceived not as an individual but as a part of a larger whole, e.g., the family, clan, tribe, etc. By contrast, in the West, the focus is often more on the individual as such, devoid of any relations to others. The German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel presents a sweeping theory of history that explains this difference in focus between traditional and modern cultures. Although often criticized for ethnocentrism and Eurocentrism, his theory can provide some insight into the cultural conflicts in our globalized world of the 21st century.