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Editorial Note

Culturelink review, no.29/November 1999 - contents - imprint - archive

Globalization and Identity

It was not our intention to devote this issue of Culturelink to questions of globalization and identity. In fact, the issue was prepared in the same way as usual: from the wealth of information and materials that reach us daily through the Network in a variety of ways (from UNESCO's and the Council of Europe's parcels to e-mail messages), we select, prepare and process texts that we feel will be most useful and interesting to Culturelink's heterogeneous membership. Dossiers and Special Issues present original papers dealing with specific topics.

And yet, when you look at the contents of the present issue, you will notice that one subject prevails over all the others - namely, globalization. This only reflects the extent to which we are all preoccupied with the subject of globalization on the eve of the new millennium. The coming century will bring an impact of a new global culture, and conversations and research centering on cultural globalization are gaining ground. American scholars are discussing the role of American commercial culture in the globalization process and affirm that globalization is not always Americanization. Namely, corporate consolidation in culture is often portrayed as a story of American control of the global markets. However, some cases tell a different story.

The UNESCO Conference of Experts on Culture, the Market and Globalization pointed out the following question: Does globalization threaten cultural identities? According to the participants, this question leads to a more general reflection: culture is essentially a dialectic of the universal and the particular. Identities must be preserved, but excessive emphasis on "identity" should be avoided, because it leads to the exclusion of others, which is the exact opposite of the promotion of identity.

The process of globalization and the renaissance of local cultures, especially of minority languages, proceed hand in hand today. Hans Magnus Enzensberger sums up the situation in the following words: "The more global and uniform our civilization, the more people want to anchor themselves in their own culture." However, the renewal of traditional, local cultures raises a new question: how authentic are they in reality? Culturelink will pay special attention to this question.

Questions of globalization are present in all fields. The impact of globalization on the world and life of music, for instance, will constitute the main theme of study of the 2000-2001 International Music Council (IMC) programme. A number of conferences scheduled for next year will have globalization as their main theme (for instance, the Danish Centre for Culture and Development, DCCD, will stage a conference on the cultural consequences of globalization).

Networks feature prominently in the globalization process. The purpose of networks is to increase the awareness of, and support for, cultural diversity in the era of globalization and technological change. Questions concerning the relation between cultural universalism and national (particularly revived ethnic) identity have been brought to the fore, especially by the emergence of new states in Europe. Networks involve both of these processes, and their greatest value is the fact that they make possible intercultural communication and dialogue in which each culture can preserve its specific individuality, that is, its identity. We hope that the Culturelink programme for 2000/01, which you will find inside this issue, will continue to contribute to this dialogue.

Biserka Cvjetičanin