Word World (par Jacques Demorgon)

One or other of these three words has been one moment and can be preferred once more here and there with globalization an evolution is underway, it becomes clear that these three words must be less at variance than compromise but according to the humans and their situations.

1./ Multicultural of séparation, multiculturalism of tolérance

When you think of people’s, groups’, countries’ séparation according to similarities and cultural différences, you use « multicultural ».

Obviously these different cultural relations can be at once hostile, indifferent or respectuous. You go then from a separation of segregation (even of apartheid) to a policy of recognition, of acceptance, of tolerance of the other. It turns itself into an ethical philosophy : a « multiculturalism » a canadian, us, british reference, and now frequent in Europe.

2./ A Transcultural of association and its limits

When you think of what gathers people, groups, countries, beyond similarities and cultural differences, it is « transcultural » which is used.

This transcultural can come from, for example, religious, political or economic fields.

In France, for example, many of its inhabitants appeal to a republican transcultural. Transcultural relations can be more or less hoped for and more or less justified. However, no religion, no policy could ever concern the whole planet.

3./ From a voluntary intercultural to a factual intercultural

When you think of the interactions among people, groups, societies relationships are qualified as « intercultural ». Often, they are friendly, positive, but actually they can also be very violent. It’s also true of the multicultural and transcultural relationships.

No doubt a general intercultural with frienship in all situations, in immigration as well must be looked after. But to see only that voluntary  friendly intercultural is misleading about the ambivalence of human relationships.

4./ Historical « multicultural, transcultural, intercultural » in France

These three perspectives interfere with the evolutive experiences of persons, groups and societies. Thus, in France the political unification carried weight in favour of a transcultural political religious, represented by french catholic Church. In this context, the Protestants had lost the protection of « the Edict of Nantes » (by Henri IV) when King Louis XIV had rescinded it

As they thought they could integrate themselves, they were excluded. We passed thus from  a proposed « transcultural » to an imposed « multicultural ».

After the fall of the of the Royalty in 1789, the catholic political religious became a « transcultural » republican. It is the political and no longer the religious which determines the « transcultural ». 

That’s how the french Revolution had reduced the Provinces (at times old Kingdoms) into mere french departments. Moreover it lead to cover up the differences between social strata when there was the institution of a so-called unique citizenship : a man a vote. Apart from the fact that it didn’t include the difference among sexes,women not having the right to vote.

All the same, secularism allowed to reunite the religious memberships as free possibilities of the citizens’ private life. The same policy of transcultural assimilation served also as an ideology in the french colonial empire. 

Whereas de facto, France and its colonies stayed in a situation completely multicultural.

Transculturalism the french way must today face planetary multiculturality from tourist migratory economic exchanges.

France is thus set apart between that transculturalism, dominant in the past, and the global multiculturality  of today.

Thus this « intercultural » perspective has appeared in both the french thinking and political practise.

That can be proved consulting The cultural Dictionary in the french language (Alain Rey, 2005) : 250 words begin with « inter » ; 170 words with « trans » and only 80 with « multi ».  

5./ Historical Multicultural, TransculturalIntercultural in the USA

Another evolution  in the USA, we have first a « transculturalism » unifying all the white populations from Europe. It’s the « melting pot ». A long way of struggles and sacrifices like Martin Luther King’s for the Blacks’ integration progresses.

From that time, the multicultural perspective and the multiculturalism have prevailed for the better.

Nathan Glazer (1998) gives a proof of it thanks to a chronological research on a press sample the word « multiculturalism » missing until 1988, appears a hundred times in 1990, 600 times in 1991 and 1500 times in 1994.

6./ Irreducibility of the 3 imaginaries of cultural relations

The previous analysises show that multicultural, transcultural, intercultural are dependent upon different points of views which have all a meaning. The primacies of multicultural, transcultural or intercultural hide a domination. 

Multiculturalism pretends that anyone can remain who he is without precising to what level of power. 

Transculturalism underlines that we can become together without precising who becomes more than the other. 

Interculturalism takes the shape of an angel giving its back to persistant extreme violences. « Multicultural, intercultural, transcultural » are opposed poles  -complimentary of a ternary regulation of human exchanges. That one must go on to enable the hyper humanization of all humans.



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