Monday, January 21, 2008
I am reading a book entitled Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind by Curtis Keim and in this post I will be noting more quotes from the book that I think I will have to share with you esteemed blog readers:
1. [page 162]
Africa is so vulnerable to stereotypical interpretations. [Unfortunately] it has no powerful group of advocates to challenge our myths. Moreover, events in Africa lend themselves to stereotypical interpretations, and of all the continents, sub-Saharan Africa seems the most culturally distant from us. This is true for both its rural and urban populations. Africa's diseases, famines, [floods?], poverty, wars, corruption, weak governments and other problems can be easily mistaken as indications of African backwardness rather than as evidence of the continent's complex history, in which WE OURSELVES participated...
2. [page 164]
Dialogue can help us avoid two significant dangers: universalism and isolationism. Universalism claims that we know the truth and that all true and good people should live according to that truth. Universalism leads to a hierarchical construction of the world and promotes control over others. Evolutionism is one form of universalism. At the other end of the spectrum, isolationism claims that everyone should be able to live however they choose, which is an impossibility on our shrinking planet and will lead to wars over cultural differences and dwindling resources. Dialogue, however, promotes transversality, the recognition that truth, so far as it exists for humans, lies somewhere between absolutism and relativism. Transversality affirms that we share the same time and place, that we are equal and different and that our individual and collective well-being are interdependent.