Points of Contact: Crossing Cultural Boundaries

Points of Contact: Crossing Cultural Boundaries

Points of Contact: Crossing Cultural Boundaries

Points of Contact: Crossing Cultural Boundaries

Synopsis

This collection of eight essays examines specific cases of contacts between Pacific Rim and western European cultures to explore the phenomena of appropriations, intersections, transculturations, and discrete identities. The exchanges in ideas, religion, and culture resulting from contacts among these areas, whether through actual or virtual travel, indicate mutual affinities and occasionally interdependencies, but also separate and independent identities. Each of these essays concerns the portability, mutability, and adaptability of aspects of the exchange of ideas, and, in nearly all cases here examined, an affirmation of identity on the part of each culture in the exchange. The cases of intersections examined here generally indicate developments of cultures approaching one another and then retrenching.

Excerpt

It is now a commonplace observation that our globalized economy and digitized technology have made the distant areas of the world interdependent and in some ways more familiar and accessible to one another. the purpose of the eight essays in this issue of the Bucknell Review is to examine how specific cases of cultural contacts between Pacific Rim and Western European cultures intersect, illuminate their differences, and generally maintain discrete identities. This collection developed from a conference entitled East/ West:Points of Contact, one of a series of events in March 2001 at Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania. These events were conceived as an opportunity to feature scholarly topics less often highlighted in the college and scholarly curriculum. Initially, the overall orientation was loosely defined from a “Western” Eurocentric and North American perspective, and directed toward Asia as the “East,” but surely even a loose definition is laden with ambiguity and potential misunderstanding. For this collection of essays, we prefer a geography that is associated with Pacific Rim areas as “East,” ranging from central Asia to Austrialia and Japan, and the “West” associated with European, North American, and JudeoChristian traditions. the exchanges in ideas, religion, and culture resulting from contacts among these areas, whether through actual or virtual travel, indicate mutual affinities and occasionally interdependencies, but also separate and independent in identities. Each of these essays concerns the portability, mutability, and adaptability of aspects of the exchange of ideas and, in nearly all cases here examined, an affirmation of identity on the part of each culture in the exchange. the cases of intersections examined here generally indicate developments of cultures approaching one another and then retrenching.

In his lecture at the March 2001 conference, Patrick Nagatani remarked that direction is hardly fixed. Going west from California brings the traveler to Asia, but going further west from there leads through the Silk Route to the Mediterranean, Europe, the Atlantic, and eventually North America back to California. From Nagatani’s personal Japanese-American perspective, any direction becomes cir-

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