When Peoples Meet: A Study in Race and Culture Contacts

When Peoples Meet: A Study in Race and Culture Contacts

When Peoples Meet: A Study in Race and Culture Contacts

When Peoples Meet: A Study in Race and Culture Contacts

Excerpt

THE INCREASED and increasing knowledge about human cultures which has come to us in modern times has unfortunately not led to any very general improvement in the common understanding of the nature of civilization, or the nature of culture itself. With the broadened scientific perspective on human social history that has been achieved one might logically expect enlightened social understanding and intercultural appreciation and tolerance. But this has not been so. People still read and write history from chronic attitudes of cultural pride and prejudice, and sometimes deliberately, sometimes subconsciously, impose interpretations upon civilization that are steeped in cultural bias and partiality. The social sciences even, which are usually relatively objective on matters of detail, in their large-scale interpretations of social history revert frequently to the traditional cultural provincialisms.

Popular thinking is even more deeply enmeshed in cultural chauvinism and bigotry. Issues of practical conflict and historic rivalry cloud over the broader and clearer panorama which the scientific study of culture is ready to give, and as a result traditional misconceptions of culture and civilization not only persist but flourish. The contemporary welter of group rivalries with the confusion of their clashing factionalisms makes imperative a search for new clues and basic insights on the complex problems of human group relations. These are not new problems, but their aggravated contemporary manifestations urgently focus renewed attention upon them. In response to these increasing tensions, there is increased resort to theorizing about the nature of culture and civilization, but far too much of it is mere rationalization of the claims and counterclaims of various national and racial groups seeking . . .

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