Modern Culture History - How Culture Different From Other Culture 2011

Definitions of ‘culture’ are contested. In anthropological-usage, the word refers to a system of shared meaning through which collective existence becomes possible.However, as many recent critiques of this position point out, this sense of culture gives no place to the idea of judgement, and hence to the relations of power by which the dominance of ideas and tastes disestablished. As Said says about Matthew Arnold’s view of culture:“What is at stake in society is not merely the cultivation of individuals, or the development of a class of finely turned sensibilities, or the renaissance of interests in the classics,but rather the assertively achieved and won hegemony of an identifiable set of ideas, which Arnold honorific ally calls,culture, over all other ideas in society.
”The implications of Arnold’s view of culture are profound; they lead us towards a position in which culture must be seen in terms of that which it eliminates as much as that which it establishes. Said argues that when culture is consecrated by the State, it becomes a system of discrimination's and evaluations through which a series of exclusions can be legislated from above. By the enactment of such legislation the State comes to be the primary giver of values. Anarchy, disorder, irrationality, inferiority, bad taste and immorality are, in this way, defined and then located outside culture and civilization by the State and its institutions.
This exclusion of austerity is an important device by which the hegemony of the State is established; either certain ‘others’ are defined as being outside culture, as are‘mad’ people; or they are domesticated, as with penalservitude—Foucault’s monumental studies on the asylum and the prison demonstrate this.It is this context which we must understand in order to fully appreciate the challenge posed by the community to the hegemony of the state, especially to the notion that the State is the sole giver of values. At the same time, the dangerous that we may in the process be tempted to vaporize the community as somehow representing a more organic mode,and therefore a more authentic method of organizing culture.Many scholars feel that culture is more organically related to the traditions of groups, whereas traditions are falsely invented by the hands of State.
So, we arrive at this double definition of culture. By this I mean that the word ‘culture’ refers to both a system for shared meanings which defines the individual’s collective life, as well as a system for the formulation of judgements which are used to exclude austerities, and which thus keep the individual strictly within the bounds defined by society.It is in view of this that the question of cultural rights seems to me to be placed squarely within the question of passions rather than interests.
It is time now to define passion.After the classical work of Hirsch man on political passions, it was usual to think of passions as obstructions in the path of reason. Passions had to be overcome for enlightened interest to emerge. This view of passions is extremely limited. Indeed, certain kinds of revelations,including the recognition of oneself as human, become possible only through passion. If the self is constituted only through the Other—so that desire, cognition, memory and imagination become possible through the play ofpassion—then the revelatory role of passion must be acknowledged not only in the life of the individual but alison the life of the collective. Passion then must play a role in politics.
As we have seen, the demand for cultural rights at this historical moment is in a context where cultural symbol shave been appropriated by the State, which tries to establish monopoly over ethical pronouncements. The State is thus experienced as a threat by smaller units, who feel that their ways of life are penetrated, if not engulfed, by this larger unit. The situation is quite the opposite of the relation between the part and the whole in hierarchical systems, relation seen as the characteristic mark of traditional politics in South Asia.
In a hierarchical system, differences between constituent units were essential for the ‘whole’ to reconstituted.In other words, small units came to be defined by being bearers of special marks in a hierarchical entity. And although by definition they could not be equal in such a system, thievery logic of hierarchy assured that they could not be simply engulfed into the higher totality. This was both a source of their oppression as well as a guarantee of their acceptance(though not a radical acceptance) of their place in the world.My argument is not an appeal for a return to hierarchy a principle of organization. Rather, it is an effort to locate the special nature of the threat which smaller groups feel.

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