The author brings to the limelight conflicts between cultures of the world. He begins by unfolding a traditional ceremony for the Asante king. Surprisingly, this ceremony is said to have happened in the 21st century when globalization should have eroded most traditional cultures. However, According to Appiah, Ghana remains strong in defending its traditions.
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He gives example of a family that has accepted diversity to an extent that each of the family members reside in a different country. Appiah tries to define contamination of African culture by use of examples from various countries especially Ghana, Spain, Japan, United States, and Britain, among others. This paper will explore Appiah’s issues on contamination of culture.
The case of contamination
According to Appiah, the process of globalization is eroding culture. On the other hand, it promotes diversity. Appiah fears that the invasive weed from the rich western cultures are continually choking the world’s native flora. This brings to question the importance of culture in society. At the same time, it outlines the importance of people.
Moreover, it tries to balance between the significance of people and culture. However, largely, Appiah believes that cultures are as central to the world as its people are since it defines their lives. He gives an example of Eddy who lives in Japan but he grew up in Ghana. However, Eddy has difficulty in speaking English. Therefore, he opts to Speak Asante-Twi whenever they are in conversation. This proves the importance of culture and diversity.
Appiah brings to question the need of preserving people’s culture. He argues that it has taken UNESCO years to achieve preservation of cultures. Moreover, he wonders why freedom of expression and thought as well as human rights are given greater considerations than preservation of cultural diversity. Appiah fears that the world risks losing diversity at the expense of globalization.
In this regard, he wonders why UNESCO contradicts itself by allowing free flow of information knowing its effects to society while at the same time professing preservation of culture and diversity. He therefore believes that ethics of globalization is quite vague since the cultures in Kumasi, Istanbul, Cairo, New York, and Leeds are getting very close.
This makes it difficult for people to promote cultural diversity. In fact, it makes it difficult for them to protect cultures. Appiah thinks that the course to be taken should begin by taking individuals to task as opposed to tribes or nations or peoples. This should help in protection and promotion of cultural diversity amidst globalization. In essence, globalization should be scrutinized effectively to direct its results since it has the capability of bringing homogeneity as well as oppose it.
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In this regard, Appiah thinks that one culture should not dominate other cultures with the thought that it is superior or development minded. The fact that a culture brings development or freedom does not mean that it should replace other cultures. Every culture has its significance. This should be taken into consideration while exploring globalization. However, it is important to note that the author alludes to the fact that change is irresistible. In fact, it does not matter what society one lives in, change is inevitable. Appiah seems resigned to this battle by recounting the changes that have taken place over the centuries.
According to Appiah, new cultures are created everywhere in the world. For instance, the American families who owned large tracks of land nowadays have small ones. Instead, this has been taken over by giant agribusinesses. In addition, Ghanaian culture has also evolved, parents can no longer control their children as they used to before. Similarly, he notes that new hairstyles come by and new languages, among others. In essence, cultural imports respond with reference to the existing culture in a place. However, it should be noted, that uniformity is gradually sneaking into most cultures.
Comment from video
The first video is on Kombai people of Papua New Guinea. Kombai people have lived in seclusion for centuries. They have rich culture that has required seclusion to preserve and protect. However, it has also undergone changes over the centuries. For instance, cannibalism has been minimized. Moreover, they no longer experience wars as before.
The second video on Babongo people (Gabon) has also preserved their culture. However, this has meant seclusion from the world. It can be noted from the examples that influxes of foreign cultures contaminate the indigenous cultures. It therefore takes complete seclusion to preserve a given culture in a globalized world.
Globalization is complex. It brings about tolerance of diverse cultures throughout the world. However, it also brings about wars of cultures. In essence, the culture that wins controls an individual. History has shown that cultures from western world are taking over cultures in other parts of the world. This might be attributed to their characteristics that bring about freedom, democracy, and development, among others. However, it should be noted that they are not entirely good. They seem to have an edge over other cultures. If this continues, cosmopolitan settings will most likely have homogeneity.