The Building Blocks of Culture

By Diop, Cheikh Anta | UNESCO Courier, May-June 1986 | Go to article overview

The Building Blocks of Culture


Diop, Cheikh Anta, UNESCO Courier


The building blocks of culture

A people's cultural identity is related to three major factors--historical, linguistic and psychological (the last of which may include the people's specific forms of religious observance). These factors vary in importance in different historical and social situations; when they are not fully present in a people or an individual, the cultural identity is flawed.

Can these factors be classed in a hierarchy of importance, or does each one play an equal part in the constitution of the cultural personality?

Awareness of a common history is the most solid rampart a people can build against cultural or any other form of aggression from outside. Thus in contacts between civilizations-- during the colonization process, for example --the colonizer tries to weaken if not destroy the historical consciousness of the colonized people.

The exercise of national sovereignty is by far the best school for a people's mind and soul, and the only way to keep alive its greatest virtues.

It is hard to say whether or not the historical factor is more important than language. For the French philosopher Montesquieu language was the only common denominator, the supreme mark of cultural identity. "As long as a vanquished people has not lost its language,' he wrote, "it still has hope.'

But nowhere in the world does the phenomenon of linguistic unity exist on a continental scale. Fragmentation and diversity prevail until an official effort is made or a political decision is taken to extend the use of one language, if necessary by force.

This process, nevertheless, at first only affects the vocabulary of a language, not its grammar, i.e. its morphology and syntax.

The civilization with the most advanced technology usually exercises a one-way influence on the civilizations or societies with which it comes into contact.

Creolization is a linguistic process which began in a specific historical situation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Building Blocks of Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.