Terms of Reference

 

CULTURAL NATIONALISM, CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND GLOBALIZATION IN AFRICA AND ASIA

 

 

International Seminar

Commemoration of the 55th Anniversary of the 1955 Bandung Asian-African Conference

Yogyakarta, October 25-27, 2010

 

 

PROBLEMATICS

 

The seminar on culture complements the four others (ecology, economy, politics, religion) by offering delegates the opportunity to contribute their studies on culture viewed as an authentic system of social experiences rather than a theoretical construct of adjacent, conflicting identities.

 

The cultures of Africa and Asia are dynamic: they have come to include, harmoniously or not, elements of globalization such as individualism, the acceleration of life's tempo (increased speed in the sense of Paul Virilio's thought), the hybridization of communal and perceived identities, gender, etc...

 

In other words, endogenous cultural systems have been transformed throughout what Samir Amin has called the Bandung era. When the social and historical forces remained relatively unharmed, modernist and nationalist ruling classes succeeded in building social formations based on less dependent systems of production and consumption, yet reliable enough to integrate the technical and industrial demands of the twentieth century.

 

Therefore, the fundamental characteristics of certain cultural communities, their core ethical values, not only survived colonialism but were able to energize postcolonial revival. It is generally accepted that the societies of Asia, despite the brutality of some wars of liberation (China and "Indochina" in particular) have been less traumatized than African societies for instance. The latter were subjected to five hundred years of systematic looting and dislocation. Some ancient civilizations and kingdoms were maintained in Asia on their historical territories, while integrating new cultural mechanisms such as Western systems of knowledge transmission through institutionalized mass schooling.

 

Hence, in Africa, traditional modes of social regulation and their spiritual underpinnings were not operative factors in the process of modernization. Corruption and cynicism of the ruling classes are not automatically more extensive in Africa. However, in the African context, great visionary humanist or revolutionary leaders of Sukarno's stature were not allowed to remain in power long enough. Senghor and Julius Nyerere, both practicing Christians, appear to be important exceptions in this regard.

 

The broad correlations between spirituality, secularism, modernity and social transformation, as observed through their progressive manifestations in Muslim (Nasakom in Indonesia, Mamadou Dia's socialism in Senegal) or Catholic contexts (Second Vatican Council, Christian socialism ...) remained largely theoretical, and failed to achieve doctrinal hegemony as defined by philosopher Gramsci.

 

Participants are thus called to further study the interplay between cultural and ideological systems in the era of Bandung with the aim of demonstrating the extent to which culture was a historical factor imbued by nationalism, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism and state capitalism during that period. As a case in point, the role of Richard Wright, who witnessed the rise of nationalism in Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana, attended to the Bandung Conference, and concurrently wrote haiku poems, ought to be analyzed and assessed, together with cultural theories articulated by the Third World voices such as Fanon, Cabral, Alioune Diop... Emphasis is not entirely on the retrospective study of the Bandung era. The contributions are expected to shed light on current social, political, economic, and spiritual occurrences.

 

The second focus point of the seminar inevitably linked to the first one, concerns cultural industries and the mechanics of diversity in this second decade of the twenty-first century. In what measures do the motion picture industries and the multifaceted assaults to biodiversity through agro-industry offer avenues of cooperation or to the contrary pull further apart Asian countries and those in Africa?

 

The UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity, in connection with intellectual property and copyright issues, but especially this year, the problem of food sovereignty could be the central area of interest. Food sovereignty must be understood as a challenge at the intersection of endogenous development, healthy eating, general well-being, and the preservation of Afro-Asian cultural identities. More broadly, food security is tied to the promotion of global humanism.

 

This form of humanism rejects the inadequate distribution of food (malnutrition of some populations and lack of control of supply chains among expatriate communities). It also rejects the production of harmful, unhealthy and synthetic food, in blatant defiance of culinary arts that have incubated and been refined for ages across the five continents, particularly in Africa and Asia.

 

The current situation requires policies that would protect conventional agriculture and offer alternative strategies for the transmission of culinary arts indigenous knowledge more attuned to social justice and communal well-being, possibly outside the formal channels where the chefs of multinational hotel chains are trained.

 

Seminar Coordinators

 

Mr. Lazare Ki-Zerbo, Burkina Faso / France — Doctor, Philosopher; CEDA (Centre d’Etudes du Développement Africain), Burkina Faso; C.I.J.K. (Comité International Joseph Ki-Zerbo), Burkina Faso / France; O.I.F. (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie), Paris, France.

Ms Widya Nayati, Indonesia — Doctor, Archaeology, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Gadjah Mada University; Director, Centre for Cultural Studies, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta.

 

 

Seminar Co-organising Institutions

 

CIJK

(Comité international Joseph Ki-Zerbo / International Committee Joseph Ki-Zerbo)

09 BP 1059 Ouagadougou 09

BURKINA FASO

 

PSK

(Pusat Studi Kebudayaan / Centre For Cultural Studies) Universitas Gadjah Mada

Jalan Lingkungan Budaya Sekip Utara Yogyakarta 55281 INDONESIA

Phone/Fax +62-274-521317 http://culture.ugm.ac.id