Making Majorities: Constituting the Nation in Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Fiji, Turkey, and the United States

By Dru C. Gladney | Go to book overview

6
Clashed Civilizations?
MUSLIM AND CHINESE IDENTITIES IN THE PRC

DRU C. GLADNEY

The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.
-- Samuel P. Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations?"

Dialogue here is not the threshold to action, it is the action itself. It is not a means for revealing, for bringing to the surface the already ready-made character of a person; no, in dialogue a person not only shows himself outwardly, but he becomes for the first time that which he is -- and, we repeat, not only for others but for himself as well. To be means to communicate dialogically. When dialogue ends, everything ends. Thus dialogue, by its very essence, cannot and must not come to an end.
-- Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics

THE epigraphs to this chapter express two fundamentally different views of identity, one absolute and oppositional, the other interactive and interdependent. For Huntington ( 1993b), culture defines the fault lines along which civilizations are bound to conflict in the post-cold war world; for Bakhtin ( 1984 [ 1963]), culture and all aspects of identity are relational, defined and redefined in interaction with an other in a contingent social sphere. While both theorists take culture seriously, they approach the subject from diametrically opposite positions, one essentialist, the other contextual. In this chapter, through examining the fault lines distinguishing two "cultures" in China, those of the Muslims and the Chinese, I will

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