Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Working on the definition for “Cultural Security”

At the end of March, the post “Working towards a definition for ‘Cultural Security’” offered groundwork on understanding the significance of the term in the 21st century. This week’s post takes another look at how to think about the relevance and significance of the role of culture in community, national, and international security. Comments on the post “What is Cultural Security?” on the Cultural Security blog from April provide insight.
The phrase “cultural power” seems to be gaining traction in the media. At the community level, a Native American Author, as a guest of “Moyers and Company,” discussed the lack of cultural power held by Indians in the United States. The interview happened to follow recent news on contested sales of Hopi masks in France.  At the intersection of the national and international levels, adaptation of Western film production indicates the cultural power of China. Recent news reported that Hollywood films cater to the audience in China by deliberately representing the nation in a favorable light and by adding scenes that feature actors in China. Apparently, China’s cultural security policy holds sway over Western marketing strategies.
Comments on the Cultural Security blog provided insight into power-sharing at the national level. As a specific example, Dr. Eugenie Samier discussed the challenge of preserving the representation of Arab culture in academic curricula in Dubai. Foreign branches of Western universities provide knowhow for economic development but lack integration of regional language and religious principles. The omission not only puts the national cultural at risk but also compromises the ultimate applicability of the academic training.
In summary, the concept of “cultural power” may help in understanding “cultural security.” Specifically, the relative influence, or political and economic power, of distinct cultures may shed light on the role of culture in security at the community, national and international level. In the past, cultural power seemed to derive from economic power, but in the present, as suggested by thoughts from Dubai, an established culture itself plays a fundamental role in the implementation of modern techniques for economic advancement.
Will culture become an independent, if not a primary, source of power in the 21st century?

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