The Clash within Civilizations: Coming to Terms with Cultural Conflicts

The Clash within Civilizations: Coming to Terms with Cultural Conflicts

The Clash within Civilizations: Coming to Terms with Cultural Conflicts

The Clash within Civilizations: Coming to Terms with Cultural Conflicts

Synopsis

Expanding upon, and engaging with, the influential theories of Francis Fukuyama in The End of History and Samuel Huntington in The Clash of Civilisations , this book is a major, and controversial, contribution to these key contemporary debates. Dieter Senghaas examines some of the most significant political issues we face today: * How do societies cope with pluralization? * Can tolerance be a successful solution? * What is the role of 'culture' in recent conflicts which have been described as culturally induced? * And will twenty-first-century world politics sink into cultural conflicts on a biblical scale? Dieter Senghaas explores these questions within the context of the main non-Western cultural areas Chinese political philosophy, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism and goes on to reflect on the possibility of a constructive form of intercultural dialogue. Senghaas's distinctive and radical approach will be of great interest and topicality to all those working in politics, international relations, sociology, cultural studies, development studies, religion and international political economy.

Excerpt

The 'return of culture' has become a fact of life in International Relations (IR) and International Political Economy theorising. Since the early 1990s, a growing number of scholars - in both mainstream and critical IR/IPE theory - have been treating culture (however defined) as a factor in its own right rather than an explanation of 'last resort'. Having said this, there are widely differing ways in which culture is re-entering reflections on the rapidly changing environment of the Global Political Economy. On the one hand, the re-articulation of identities (in terms of class, gender and race/ethnicity for instance) and the emergence of new emancipatory forces, forms and sites of resistance in a globalizing world are challenging persistent patterns of unequal distribution of power and welfare. On the other hand, the increasing prominence of cultural questions in the 'New World Order' is interpreted as a direct threat to the western world and its - supposedly - coherent cultural profile.

An example of the latter view is the controversial thesis of the American political scientist, Samuel Huntington. According to him, the post-Cold War 'New World Order' can be characterized by its imminent nascent 'clash of civilizations'; a cultural clash that is quite distinct from those between princes, nations and ideologies of previous eras. Whereas the latter conflicts took place primarily within the western world, the former will be a clash between either western and non-western civilizations or between non-western civilizations. For Huntington, this is evidence that international politics is finally moving out of its 'western phase'. in a general trend towards de-secularization, religion will be the dominant factor in new forms of identity that, in turn, transcend national borders. These will eventually find their expression in seven major civilizations. Particularly important to his analysis is the 'fault-line' between the Western and the Islamic civilizations. Fault-line wars may also occur, however, between the Islamic world and other non-western civilizations since 'Islam has bloody borders'. Not surprisingly, this thesis (first presented in a 1993 contribution to Foreign Affairs) has been heavily criticized.

In this book, The Clash within Civilizations: Coming to Terms with

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