The Historical Practice of Diversity: Transcultural Interactions from the Early Modern Mediterranean to the Postcolonial World

The Historical Practice of Diversity: Transcultural Interactions from the Early Modern Mediterranean to the Postcolonial World

The Historical Practice of Diversity: Transcultural Interactions from the Early Modern Mediterranean to the Postcolonial World

The Historical Practice of Diversity: Transcultural Interactions from the Early Modern Mediterranean to the Postcolonial World

Synopsis

While multicultural composition of nations has become a catchword in public debates, few educators, not to speak of the general public, realize that cultural interaction was the rule throughout history. Starting with the Islam-Christian-Jewish Mediterranean world of the early modern period, this volume moves to the empires of the 18th and 19th centuries and the African Diaspora of the Black Atlantic. It ends with questioning assumptions about citizenship and underlying homogeneous "received" cultures through the analysis of the changes in various literatures. This volume clearly shows that the life-worlds of settled as well as migrant populations in the past were characterized by cultural change and exchange whether conflictual or peaceful. Societies reflected on such change in their literatures as well as in their concepts of citizenship. Dirk Hoerder teaches history at the University of Bremen and has taught at universities in Northamerica. He has completed a survey of worldwide migrations from the 11th to 20th century. Christiane Harzig is Assistant Professor at Bremen University where she teaches North American History and published widely on migration in Europe and North America. Adrian Shubert is Professor and Chair of History at York University. In 1997-1998 he was a Guggenheim Fellow, and in 1999 he was invested as Commander of the Order of Civil Merit by King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

Excerpt

The composition of Europe’s and North America’s peoples has changed dramatically since the 1950s. Public discourse, however, remains welded to traditional concepts of national cultures, and scholarship continues to concentrate on a dichotomy of “Old World” emigration countries, considered culturally homogeneous, and “New World” immigration countries, considered pluralist or multicultural. While multicultural composition of state populations has become a catchphrase in public debates, few realize that cultural interaction was the rule throughout history. Late-medieval peasants visiting a roadside inn met itinerant traders carrying spices, imported from the South Sea islands, to an abbot’s residence. Europe’s Christian faithful undertook pilgrimages to a nearby shrine, to St. Jacques de Compostela in northern Spain, to Rome, or even to Jerusalem; others prayed to Black saints such as Mauritius and Benedetto il Moro or to one of the many images of saintly Black virgins. Early modern cities such as Kraków, Copenhagen, Frankfurt am Main, Paris, Marseilles, or Seville housed large immigrant populations: Scottish traders; Italian architects, scholars, and artists; Dutch Protestant refugees; Afro-Caribbean slaves; Muslim North African traders and sailors; as well as Jewish scholars and merchants, to name only a few. It took centuries of preaching to turn the “Occident” into a monoreligious Christian world, which, however, still divided itself into two major and numerous minor creeds often warring with each other and generating religious refugees. In the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries this Christian realm further divided itself into “nations,” assumedly as monocultural as dynastic states had claimed to be monoreligious. Nation-states, in fact, had one hegemonic cultural group which ruled over others, and in the process generated political-cultural refugees.
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