Globalization: Friend or foe of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue | News & Updates | DW | 27.06.2012
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Globalization: Friend or foe of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue

“Globalization means that we all depend on one and other. The differences matter little now. Whatever happens in one place can have consequences that are worldwide. …our actions encompass large distances in space and time…” (Zygmunt Bauman).

I am very enthusiastic to participate in this Media and Education Forum because the generation of personal and direct bonds are actions that we often forget. That is why I want to thank Deutsche Welle for making these reunions possible, because they foster precisely the pursuit of those ties between nations and their citizens.

Globalization – Is it friend or foe of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue?

Globalization is a condition of the present time – we cohabit with it daily. The challenge is to understand the process of intercultural fusion. To understand this process of interaction with life and with others, it would help to dive into the vortex with a little more insight.

Néstor Garcia Canclini would say, “intercultural trends are shaped today, not by the differences between cultures, but by the way in which groups adapt and combine. That is to say, how they fuse together,”

In this present perspective, nations are spaces where diverse cultures intersect and cohabit. Identity today is multilingual, multi-ethnic and migrant… built from ingredients of various cultures. We can no longer consider the members of one society belonging to a sole culture – with one sole distinctive identity.

This doesn’t mean that as nations, we must lose and forget our identity and sense of belonging. It denotes that through dialogue, we must learn to read the world within a rainbow of different cultures and all its complexity of colours.

Far from facing a global message that would seem to promote the dismissal of local history, the dialogue between world cultures must seek to exchange histories, not to substitute them for one assumed single global universal history… but for one that recognizes the manifestations of plurality and disparity of nations.

The risk of globalization lies not in the disappearance of nations and their civilizations… the challenge lies in understanding how national identities are reconstructed in terms of language, objects and customs that determine the difference between one and other, because, as nations, its precisely this individuality that gives us a sense of belonging and a culture that gives us perspective – past, present and also future.

Let us not give in to the idea that, in this day and age, cultural diversity and the identity of nations is threatened by continuous changes. Let us seek out how we can insert ourselves into this global world and how we can cohabit with the changes brought on by computerized communication technologies; by an economic exchange that appears to standardize world consumption; by cultural global models that seem to solidly influence local models; by migratory activity that have us coming and going around the world.

I am not interested in shutting our eyes to the problems that are generated by globalization. It’s not new to listen to the daily news, no matter where we find ourselves, and discover that this contemporary international system is battered by ethnic and racial conflicts that threaten logical and reasonable international peace and security.

The fall of the Berlin wall and the political and economic changes that occurred primarily in Eastern Europe, in Africa, in the Middle East and most recently in Arab countries – as part of the consequences, all have had a revival of nationalism and social movements that were nourished in times past by arbitrary and forced borders, racial tension, resentment among minorities and ethnic groups. They have endured large-scale migration in search of peace and a better life style.

These migrations are changing and reconstructing the social and cultural fabric of many nations, because the migrants not only carry a suitcase, they also bring with them a cultural baggage they are not able to leave at home – they aren’t able to divest themselves from it.

In Mexico and practically all of Latin America, the lack of development opportunities have forced many men, women and children to migrate to the United States and now also to Europe, inciting social and family conflicts in many parts of the region.

In addition to this, the changes in the patterns of trafficking and distribution of drugs throughout Latin America; the payment in kind for these services; the constant and growing demand for narcotics; the creation of criminal groups that are better organized to develop these activities and the unrestricted sale of weapons to dealers from our neighbour to the north have placed my country in the eye of the storm.

That is why, today in Mexico, to deal with this problem, the fight against drug trafficking is not limited to a security strategy, but to the implementation of social programs that are much more forceful and effective. This is why education as a social, prosperity and development mobilization factor is still the main crux to battle the unbalanced condition of our society. In this sense, Televisión Educativa plays a fundamental role as it brings education to the far reaches of Mexico, tackling the weight of ignorance and the lack of opportunities of future development.

For more than forty years, educational television in Mexico has been a key element in the education of millions of children. This huge satellite television system – the most important in the Spanish-speaking world, has given the more unfortunate and those that are also about to jump into this globalized world, the opportunity for a more complete life style with ample possibilities of communication and dialogue with people and places far beyond their communities.

That is why today we are committed to the modernization of Televisión Educativa in Mexico. Because we know that through education, there will be fewer boys and girls that choose to join the global networks of drug trafficking and organized crime. We will be able to foster universal values that will encourage them to grow within their own communities taking the path of honest work so that they can later join a world with better options to suceed.

Televisión Educativa is committed, as Deutsche Welle is - to bring more of Mexico to the world. To get to know the special features of Mexico is to get to know its people: to identify with its mariachis; to bask in its beaches; to savour its tacos; and admire its growth as a democracy… the hospitality of its people, Chicharito and Lorena Ochoa, Diego Rivera and Alfaro Siqueiros, and also to bring its education, the Spanish language, Telesecundaria and all our traditions and culture to the millions of Mexicans living abroad – those that yearn for the Day of the Dead, for Independence Day… for a “Viva México” so as not to loose their national identity… that feeling of belonging.

That is why, the global society of the future, must also push for the advancement towards the recognition of “those peculiarities, that which is distinctive but also different,” namely its minorities and the full exercise of their rights. It must find the necessary mechanisms to adjust and modulate the tensions to agree that “difference” is a distinctive sign of our times and that “cohabitation of cultures,” nations and civilizations can only enrich humanity.

It’s not about justifying regionalism or provincialism. It’s about promoting a change of perspective that allows us to see that contextual diversity and cultural plurality do not contradict the search for universality.

Intercultural dialogue is becoming a social and political philosophy - the right of different cultures to occupy the world, that is to say, to grow with the world and contribute to this growth along side it.

We are, therefore, facing a great challenge, but we must confront it because as Gabriel García Márquez has said, “…the nations condemned to one hundred years of solitude are not offered a second opportunity on this earth.”

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