South African Cultural Observatory

Ordinary Culture in a World od Strangers

Upload date: 12.03.19
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The image of Zwarte Piet, as part of Dutch Sinterklaas celebrations has caused heated debate in the past decade, which has polarized tensions between the ‘Dutch’ and ‘strangers’. This article argues that the debate cannot be resolved within a framework of a methodologically nationalist cultural policy. Building on Kwame Anthony Appiah’s book Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, I argue that a cosmopolitan framework for belonging is not only a normative but also a policy imperative. Cultural policy should recognize our shared global belonging, rather than building a national polis predicated on difference that sets us apart. However, a methodologically cosmopolitan cultural policy cannot be a blanket approach to replace or undermine national frameworks. It should embed the nation in a cosmopolitan public policy to accommodate cultural and religious diversity under globalization that has irrevocably eroded the illusion of a national unity.
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