Academic journal article International Journal on Humanistic Ideology

Living on the Threshold between Cultures and within a Multilayered Society

Academic journal article International Journal on Humanistic Ideology

Living on the Threshold between Cultures and within a Multilayered Society

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Hardly ever we can find a moment in time when our daily lives were not governed/shaped by the meta-narratives of that stage. Acting to create them in a never-ending manner we ended up being molded by these, so any inquire in how we behave, think, or dream should start questioning them in the first place. The nowadays momentum, which blinds us from finding viable escape options, seems to be of the dialectics between yesterday's multiculturalism (Taylor, 1992) and globalism (Sen, 2002). After the enthusiastic period of the '70s and '80s when the multicultural policies were adopted by several countries both in the North and in the South, appearing in many different shapes, the motto "integration with maintenance of one's own cultural identity" became less and less appealing at least in the Northern part of the world, given that the immigrants (mainly guest workers doing unskilled jobs) did neither intend to go back to their country of origin (Schalk-Soekar, Breugelmans & van de Vijver, 2009, p. 269) nor adapt to the culture in their host countries to a degree that appeared acceptable for a broad majority (Rodriguez, 2007).

Criticism of multiculturalism has slowly shifted into anti-immigrant discourses and actions, encompassing real and/or imagined threats of cultural purity (Wessendorf, 2008, p. 198). Within European societies, the increasing anxious xenophobia (Appadurai, 2006, p. 8) has been disturbing. Worth mentioning that the flouring of nationalism and the restructuring of states along national lines, is hand in hand with the growing global interconnections (Wimmer & Glick Schiller, 2002, p. 301) and the reconfiguration of what connects inhabitants of a national (or transnational) space to one another (Fortier, 2008, p. 2). In the era of globalization, those "born and bred" in an area, have partly lost the local power in favor of those newcomers who became the locally dominant group in some instances (Hogenstijn, van Middelkoop & Terlouw, 2008, p. 147). In this highly dynamic process, important categories of majority and minority, from cultural to sexual and back, are not pre-given any more, they are not rock solid concepts as used to be, and consequently we walk on quicksand when issues like belongingness, identity, or who we are, and how we act, etc., are of concern.

Since the conditions are settled for the fear that the common (the majority) and the marginal (the minority) might morph into one another: "as abstractions produced by census techniques and liberal proceduralism, majorities can always be mobilized to think that they are in danger of becoming minor (culturally or numerically) and to fear that minorities, conversely, can easily become major (through brute accelerated reproduction or subtler legal or political means)" (Appadurai, 2006, p. 83), we want to find out to which degree people on the threshold between cultures form their own identity with the elements of the prevalent cultures that suit them. In addition, it has to be asked what impact such a transcultural approach may have for the scope of the cultures of these places. For this purpose, the concept of transculture is introduced in Section 2. Afterward, in Section 3 we are dealing with the context of our investigation - some of the field work done by us in various Swiss hybrid places is presented, and in 4, with the methodology adopted, objective hermeneutics, to expose the empirical evidences (or, as Cohen, 2010, puts it, the bodily experience) captured there. Sections 5-6 serve to present the results through analyzing interview sequences with an Italian PhD student in Switzerland, a mayor, a scientist and a party functionary.

2. The transcultural approach

The transculturalist message is that we have to look at the phenomena of integration and xenophobia as well as on multiculturalism and globalism both as issues of the past in their relation to the present, as much as issues of the present in relation to the future (Bhambra & Holmwood, 201 1, p. …

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