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Collisions of Cultures

Frictions and Re-Shapings

Studien zur Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Band 35

Hamburg , 614 Seiten

ISBN 978-3-339-13200-0 (Print)
ISBN 978-3-339-13201-7 (eBook)

Zum Inhalt

“Collisions of Cultures: Frictions and Re-Shapings” is a collection of thirty-nine articles that explore transcultural collisions that have occurred in the course of history and movement of human communities. It uses the disciplines of literature, history and cultural studies to examine new thematic parameters and methodological approaches that address violent and subtle cultural confrontations between communities, re-shape identities, reconceive gender, define home, track cultural mobilities, explore popular concepts of horror and humour, examine what is beyond human, and assess what is literary studies today.

The book is divided into ten thematic sections that deal with what the critics regard as most important aspects in their new writings. The contributors include writers and scholars coming from different continents and the articles have special emphasis on the Philippines and other Asian countries such as India, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan as well as Australia and Africa. Included too are diverse contributions from Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, USA, UAE, Brazil, Fiji and Ukraine.

Even in ancient times, cultures were never homogeneous. The movement of people due to war and invasion, hunger and disease, labour opportunities, exile and the search for freedom, even the most innocuous crossing of borders such as tourism, always leave an imprint of the encounter between peoples and communities. For some, the encounter is relatively harmonious. For many others, dissimilarities often resulted in conflict or conquest.

The scholars in this collection explore the latter-- the contentious contact of cultures, the resulting frictions, and the re-shapings that follow. The collisions can be overt or covert, subtle or violent. They are represented in diverse tropes and in countless guises: The dehumanizing brutality of conquest and statehood is often justified in terms of what is good for the community in the pursuit of imperialist or nation-building goals.

The project of civilization often contradicts what it deems as noble objectives that intended to “help” inferior communities achieve cultural advancement. Migrant communities especially are vulnerable to identity construction by majority groups while also defending their changed identities against their own communities. Human movements have often reset the location of self and home. War, exile, opportunities or just travel lead migrants to change domicile, sometimes several times, erasing the certainty that original habitation brings. Cultural mobilities move home and identities but they also establish fresh beginnings.

Cultural collisions are most poignant in the performance of gender. Patriarchal values and social expectations seem to be a universal element that cuts across race and creed. Women have been used as traded bodies, exotic objects, mythological carriers of meaning, and popular culture personages.

Humor is cultural; what is funny in one culture may be offensive in another. What seems to be a common use of humor across cultures is its political intent. Horror is likewise cultural. What is horrific in one culture may be funny in another. Horror emanates from the cultural psyche and dictates the construction of monstrosity.

The issue of environment cannot escape the trope of cultural collisions. Such cultural collisions are often ideological and suggest the expansion of cultural parameters beyond the human. Literature and its discipline are also sites for cultural assessments. The encounters in the world of letters suggest a non-monolithic permutation of what is literary, what literature serves, what its role in human history is. Cultural unease is also felt by the creative writers themselves. The cultural collisions are felt in the heart as they look at their landscape, and the battle between gain and loss rages on.

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