British Sidewalks Breed Terrorists IV
* BRITISH SIDEWALKS BREED TERRORISTS IV
Tue July 26, 2005
The following essay is from Thirster at the University of Florida Paul Doughty, anthropologist, Latin Americanist, and lifelong activist on behalf of peace. The essay is extremely lightly edited for clarity, and at the end I have appended a definition of the key notion of “cultural revitalization,” which is central to Paul’s analysis.
The term “revitalization,” first coined fifty years ago, has a certain positive ring to it. But it is well to bear in mind, as Paul suggests, that in today’s Global Era, the “revitalization” of one culture can be bad for world peace.
On the other hand, the right KIND of revitalization of American culture, and various Muslim cultures, could be very good for world peace.
Oh my, this is a vat of pickles with some habanero chilis thrown into it. As an anthropologist I think of these years as the "Age of Revitalization Movements," each as unyielding as the next, and all running on large servings of ethno-religious-centrism and with total withdrawal of respect for "others." Simple, direct solutions are appealing. Facts are inconvenient as are science, history and knowledge derived therefrom: these are replaced by "belief" in what is conjured up by the those with insight to interpret events and provide simple, comprehensible answers. Alas, the Islamic radicalism outlined here is a universe increasingly paralleled by religious counterparts in the US.
From what we know about revitalization processes, the pathways for dealing with them as they formulate the characteristics we now see, are as clear as they are difficult: one has to act to alter and correct the societal and cultural breakdowns that lead to this enormous sense of alienation, insecurity, fear, and confusion that clearly reigns in the minds of such persons. The question is: will our governments and people be willing to take on these issues that are increasingly provoked by globalization in the era of instant communications, fractured societal relations, power-struggles, hate-mongering, greed and confrontation at every level? Or, will we simply respond in kind? Develop our own "movement" as we appear to be doing with our growing "fortress america" mentality? And to what effect? Who was it that noted that people who fight each other, come to resemble each other?
FROM THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION AND SOCIETY, published by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, here is a brief summary of the theory of cultural revitalization:
A term first proposed in 1956 by Anthony F. C. Wallace of the University of Pennsylvania to encompass such variously labeled social movements as nativistic movements, millenarian movements, reformative movements, and cargo cults because, he suggested, all possess a similar processual structure.
All these movements constitute deliberate, organized attempts by some members of society to create a more satisfying culture. All seek to undermine existing institutions with the intention of bringing about a new and meaningful integration through manipulation of the world. Wallace asserted that all religions come into existence as parts of revitalization movements and that whenever conditions of individual or social stress exist, a prophet emerges with a new cultural paradigm that, if accepted, becomes the basis for a new social reality or new social order. He delineated the sequence of development in revitalization movements as follows: (1) a steady state of culture, (2) a period of individual stress, (3) a period of cultural distortion, (4) a revitalization, and (5) the establishment of new steady state of culture.
—Stephen D. Glazier
A. F. C. Wallace, "Revitalization Movements," American Anthropologist 58(1956):264-281.