Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Interculturalism and multiculturalism plus something much lighter.

Kate from School in Spain commented on my last post and mentioned interculturalism, which I had never heard of before. She said, "interculturalism ... refers to a more open exchange and relationship among different cultures, in which differences are not just "tolerated" but actively embraced as a positive part of society"

Sounds fantastic!!!! Very exciting, and just about exactly what I was thinking of. Went and did some internet research and found a bunch of cool sites, like this that are truely about cultures coming together. This is done, judging by my fankly shallow research on the internet, primarily by artists. I believe it is aimed at bringing disparate cultures together, and letting them cross germinate, get ideas, from each other, and then fuse themselves into something new. It is also a term that shows up a lot in Dublin, and other Irish sites that are working on racism.

Wiki defines it slightly differently and states, "Interculturalism seeks to enhance fusion by looking for commonalities. Hence, a new world culture is constructed based on the fusion of all commonalities of cultures." Now this I am uneasy with. I am not sure that the creation of a single world culture, however varied it's roots is a goal I am prepared to aim at.

Multiculturalism has been criticised for emphasising differences (oooh Bob, look at the funny hats they wear...wouldn't people laugh if they saw you walking down high street in THAT) to the exclusion of commonalities. There is probably truth in finding this problematic. In reality we are more alike than different. If my findings on interculturalism are correct, and I am not banking on that as Kate from School in Spain is learning about this at teachers college, and her definition differs, then the interculturalism as an attempt to create a single fused culture is not necessarily a good idea. It would so infinately reduce the greatness of human accomplishment. We have managed to solve the same problems so creatively. It is the fruit of so much labour and genious and innovation.

When we travelled south from Toronto to the Bahamas on our boat we ended up looking at ovens a lot. This was strange as we didn't have one. We started in Toronto at Cobourne Lodge in High Park. This had two types of kitchens..one in the basement. This was the winter kitchen, built there so that the heat from the cooking could be stored and rise through the house heating it. There was a second kitchen attatched to the house, but outside. The summer kitchen, so the heat could diffuse, and keep the house and the cooks cooler.

In parts of Northern Ontario, I have been told that the Swedes and Norweigens and people from other sauna loving cultures built the sauna before the house when they arrived. They could eat there, sleep there, get warm there, cook there, and of course get clean.

In Reedville Virginia, we went into a rebuilt house, and the kitchen was in a seperate building out back, connected by a covered sidewalk. The houses were made of wood, and the weather was generally warm, so the kitchens were seperated to help keep things cool, but also to prevent the spread of fires. The fashions of the day actually killed many women, as their huge long skirts often caught fire, and they took too long to remove once they caught.

In the Bahamas, outdoor ovens were the norm. These are literally free standing outdoor ovens with short chimneys... what with the heat, and the need to run them for a long time to burn down the conch shells to help to build the houses. They were often made of shells and stones in fact.

Humans are brilliant at this. We all have a single problem...must cook food...and every group solves it a little differently in response to the world around them, and their cultural tastes and practices. I don't think that many of the Basques who landed on Newfoundland's shores all those years ago thought of building a sauna first, it hadn't appeared in their backgound...though it might have been a good idea.

Creating a single slurry of blended elements is pointless. It would be like grafting and interbreeding all the different types of apples, crabs, heritage, common the lot and creating a single uberapple... There in lies the death of diversity.

We are doing this to some extent already both with the reduction in the variety of foods we eat, plants and animals that we cultivate and allow to continue to survive and in the reduction of cultures. There are many many languages that are severly threatened if not endangered, and the cultures and stories that go along with them. There are people out there simply trying to record these before the last members die out. The weakend memories of only a few members.

I feel that we need to strive to acheive unity in diversity. We need to recognize our humanness, and the unifying prinicples of our lives as humans, but celebrate, and recognize, and yes, borrow from and try on different ways. But I feel we have to maintain and recognize that diversity. It is so precious. So is the unity. A constant balance between divisivness in the name of distinction and unity must be played.

Now I had intended to lighten up a bit today...

BIG NEWS! Things are going so well at the school that the elder daughter even went over to play at some kids house!!! *wild maternal glee** We didn't get the homework done, but as they still didn't give us written directions and she IS learning Catalan.....

The girls went off the school this morning reasonably happily. Although the eldest was uptight about taking a shower after gym. *horrified shudder* I am with her 100% on that one. Definitely one of the crappy things about school. Hope it went well. (later...she feigned ignorance and skipped out on it.)

Went for a two and a half hour walk today to the beach and back...Thank you Beth for the suggestion. It's about 9k round trip, which was fabulous, and I found a ton of lovely sea glass as well. Sea salt Jewelry please note. It is hot here again, I walked back up from the beach in my tank top and jeans. The Spanish are all still wearing winter coats. The way people (men) stared at me on the walk up made me feel almost naked. They haven't seen skin in months, and they probably think I am nuts, but it is HOT. I am sitting on the balcony typing this in jeans and a tank top, and I am sweaty. Everyone else is going by in coats though...

This friend, Kate from above, has a blog, and she needs a hand for a class. She has to find out information about when individual children acquired speech, so if you can find your baby books, or have a better memory for these things than me, head on over and give her a hand.

The visitation for my father in law is today. *heavy sigh*

I don't know how well this photo looks on your computer, but it is a costume - oh, the garbage men just sprayed out the cans with perfumed water. The wind is in the wrong direction...smells like a brothel right now, or at least how I imagine a brothel would smell.

Sorry, back to the point. The picture is of a costume that was used for an opera in Warsaw, and we got the picture there. It is a woman, naked from the waist up, with fluffy feathers covering her genitals, and a cloak over her shoulders. The chest and belly are moulded and patterned and painted fiberglass or something similar, but there are definite boobs. Nipples and all. While it is obvious what it is, it is also obvious that it is a costume. No one would think you were actually naked.

This might put me out there in the odd category, but THIS is a costume I would love to wear to a party sometime. The responses you would get would be absolutely priceless. Beats Raggedy Anne or a witch all to hell.


Beth said...

The picture didn't show up on my computer - I'll try again later. The costume sounds WILD. As for you in the "odd category" I'll reserve judgement until I see it.

Beth said...

I couldn't even see the picture on my stupid computer. darn!

this has absolutely nothing to do with your post, but you were talking about ovens and kitchens, so maybe it does...anyway, my kitchen in in the basement of my house. My great grandparent's built this house and it had no electricity or heat, so they put the kitchen in the basement so when they used the coal stove, the heat would rise up through the rest of the house! And in the summer, it is so cool down here. sometimes I hate it, but mostly, I think it's pretty cool.

kate said...

Wow, now that was a long post! Thanks for the shout-out! I did find someone who does blogs for her kids, recording their milestones, and she's got all the information I need, finally.

As for the differing definitions of interculturalism, I think it's probably the kind of thing where there is no one universally agreed upon definition, just sets of conventions agreed upon by different groups in different contexts. Wiki is a good source, but of course it's not necessarily the last word on everything. I wouldn't be too keen on the "one world culture" thing either, though.

I'm glad school seems to be getting better for the kids. I'm sure they will learn catalan soon-- with a young mind, high motivation, and lots of exposure, how could they not?

Mom of Three said...

Okay, see, now there is another culture shock: Garbage men who spray the cans with perfumed water???? Wow!

I like people who are good people. Period. And who are open-minded. In other words, one of my best friends here in the new place is a Mormon. Nice people. I, however, would never be a Mormon, and probably have a lot of interesting information on Mormonism that they haven't been given. So they don't try to convert us, and we don't tell them about some of the stuff in Under the Banner of Heaven, and we all get along fine. That's how it should be, but people shouldn't take their own way so darned seriously.

oreneta said...

Beth: Hope it comes through..it did when I logged in.

Beth: You live in the house your great grandparents built! Now that is a level of groundedness that isn't seen a lot any more. I had lived in 10 houses by the the time I was 10...and no, my parents claim they weren't running from the repo man.

Kate: Tell me about it. That was WAY long. I have to get my language going so I have someone to talk to. I agree with you about the definitions. I am sure they alter based on context. The fusion aspect has great potentials, certainly from an artistic perspective...just a single world culture gives me the creeps.

MoT: EXACTLY. It could all boil down to "please be nice". You know that golden rule thing. That would pretty much deal with it all.

Beth said...

Still can't see the picture today.
Very tantalzing - would love to see what you think would be a great costume with it being, "naked from the waist up."

oreneta said...

Beth: I'm not getting it coming up either...grrrrrr. I was earlier, I have cut and pasted the url in again, still nothing. Looked on the useless help site....
(#*&#(#&%^^ blogger.

Beth said...

I joined (free) a site called Photobucket when I could not for the life of me get Blogger to put that new profile picture up. (Kept telling me I was using illegal symbols in the url.) So I joined Photobucket, uploaded my picture from my computer to that site, got a "normaL" url with them and then copy and pasted that url to Blogger. It worked!

oreneta said...

yeah, I've been debating flickr or paradisa or whatever it's called. I didn't want one where complete strangers could order prints...