vendredi 13 février 2015

MARC AUGE AND MULTIINDIVIDUALISM AND DIVERSITY: CUBA AND UNITED STATES



Well known French Ethnologist was asked about Identity and this was one of his answers:
Actualmente predominan en la vida social las tendencias provenientes de la defensa del multiculturalismo, posturas que despiertan ciertas sensibilidades sin duda necesarias, pero que también dan lugar a nuevos conflictos. ¿Cómo ve la convivencia entre lo “políticamente correcto” y esas otras costumbres largamente arraigadas?

Creo que hay que llevar a cabo algo más que el multiculturalismo para crear otro tipo de diversidad, lo más importante es el multi-individualismo. Tengo siempre una dificultad cuando me preguntan por mis orígenes, ya que mis abuelos eran de Bretaña, Cataluña y Burdeos; de la misma forma, en Francia 1 de cada 4 personas tiene al menos un abuelo que es de fuera del país. Es decir, personalmente conozco algo de Bretaña, pero no puedo decir que mi cultura adquiera su significación de ahí, mi cultura tampoco es parisina, aunque he vivido siempre en París, también he vivido en África, por lo que también tengo elementos de cultura africana. Lo que quiero decir es que cada individuo tiene experiencias culturales de vida diferentes y no tiene por que ser encerrado en una cultura, incluso una cultura que corresponde a su país natal, aunque está claro que puede reivindicarla si quiere. Pero al nivel de una organización, mi preferencia es que tenemos que tratar con individuos, no con culturas, porque las culturas también pueden ser un instrumento de opresión. Podríamos tener todo un debate sobre las nociones de tolerancia, de relativismo, que son nociones ambiguas, pero ¿qué es la tolerancia? Que yo piense que tú tienes derecho a equivocarte y que esto es recíproco. En realidad, no pienso como tú, pero creo que tengo razón, claro que también puedo equivocarme. Sin embargo, no puedo decir que se puede pensar cualquier cosa y no tengo respeto hacia ciertos aspectos de algunas “culturas”, ya que, por ejemplo, para mí una mujer es exactamente igual que un hombre, a nivel teórico no tengo ningún respeto intelectual por las posiciones que dicen que hombres y mujeres tienen su puesto. Está claro que no voy a hacer la guerra, pero podemos pensar que tenemos que hacer un esfuerzo. En este sentido me siento más cercano al siglo XVIII que al siglo actual. Mañana la moda intelectual puede cambiar y lo importante me parece el individuo. La cultura se puede reivindicar por parte de los individuos, diría mejor “las culturas”, en esa mezcla que hay siempre, pero no hay que partir de la cultura, sino que hay que tomar al individuo como punto de referencia».
Trends in defense of multiculturalism currently dominate social life pose certain sensitivities certainly necessary, but they also give rise to new conflicts. How does the coexistence of "political correctness" and those other long-established customs?

I think we should carry out more than multiculturalism to create another kind of diversity, the most important is the multi-individualism. I always have a difficulty when asked about my origins, because my grandparents were from Brittany, Catalunya  and Bordeaux; in the same way, in France 1 in 4 people having at least one grandparent who was born outside France. That is, I personally know some of Brittany but I can not say that my culture acquires its significance there, my culture is not Paris, but have always lived in Paris, I also lived in Africa, so also I have elements of African culture . What I mean is that each individual has different cultural experiences of life and not have to be locked in a culture, even a culture that corresponds to his native country, although it clearly can claim it if you want. But the level of an organization, my preference is that we have to deal with individuals, not with cultures because cultures can also be an instrument of oppression. We could have a whole debate on the notions of tolerance, relativism, which are ambiguous notions, but what is tolerance? I think you have a right to be wrong and that this is reciprocated. Actually, I do not think like you, but I think I'm right, I can also be clearly wrong. However, I can not say that you can think of anything and have no respect for certain aspects of some "cultures", since, for example, for me a woman is just like a man, theoretically have no intellectual respect for positions that say that men and women have their place. Clearly not going to make war, but we think we have to make an effort. In this sense I feel closer to the eighteenth century than to the present century. Tomorrow intellectual fashion can change and how important we think the individual is. The culture can be claimed by individuals, better to say cultures in the mélange we already have but it must be based on culture, but you have to take the individual as a reference point. "

I have just left Cuba and arrived in Miami. It is an interesting trip, in that in the short distance and the minutes it takes to cover by air travel (39 minutes), one sees clearly and understands what Marc Auge was talking about.
In Cuba, there are three distinct racial groups and a false one (Tainos who do not exist culturally): White, Black and Mulatto.

Everyone  identifies as Cuban and speak the same language, share very similar food and drinks throughout the island. Cubans are mostly secular but if religious they either follow Catholicism or Santeria: one from Europe and the other from Africa, regardless of their racial identification. There are minor Christian denominations introduced by American Missionaries. Religion does not play an important part in the life of an ordinary Cuban. Interestingly enough, the DNA studies show that an average Cuban, if he is white, has chances of having African DNA and vice versa. It is where one can say that DNA does not prove ones culture. The False Tainos of Baracoa and other “Indians” of Cuba may well have Black, White or Indian DNA but that does not prove anything, from a cultural point of view. Like their Puerto Rican and Dominican counterparts, they are mainly mulatto or Black in their culture.  There is a very high amount of mixing of the races in Cuba, much more so since the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
Just crossing the brief Straits of Water, one arrives in Miami, where the population is predominantly White Cuban, but here they have another identity they can mark: Hispanic
It is an interesting nomenclature which has no cultural meaning at all. Here is the definition:
The U.S. Department of Transportation defines Hispanic as, "persons ofMexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race."

I can assure you that Cubans who are in Miami are predominantly White, Mexicans who are in Texas or California are predominantly of Indian origin, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans have a fair share of African Blood. Argentines, Chileans are mostly White, Guatemalans, Peruvians and Bolivians are predominantly Indian.
So the term HISPANIC is an insult to the idea of “cross culturalism” or multiculturalism ( a concept which is in the throes of its disappearance), instead of diversity, they want to unite diverse group into an unifying nomenclature.
While doing research for lectures on Identiy, it was interesting to discover this: A Black Cuban is Cuban first and Black second in Cuba but if he migrates to USA, especially to MIAMI ( the USA officials in La Habana advises of potential black Cuban migrants about this and recommend that they go to some place like Nevada!), he is Black first and Cuban second!

USA is a very large country and it is the most diverse country on earth. I am told of one particular street in Queens, where more than 130 languages are spoken. There are language communities large enough to support their own newspapers!

But there is a huge difference between USA and say Europe or Great Britain. In this regard USA resembles closer to Australia or New Zealand than to Britain.
In the USA, you are welcome to join the  Nationality Club. Legally anyone can become American but there is no pressure to do so.
While in France, the diversity is disguised into French and Non French, and recent lessons learned have showed them that this lack of division is probably an insult to the culture of the multitude of races which  inhabit France.
In the UK on the other hand, one can aquire a British Nationality but can never become English, Welsh, northern Irish or Scottish. So we have Black British but never Black English or Black Scottish.  Jacques Derrida would have had a field day deconstructing these nomenclatures behind which we hide our intolerance, racism and phobias.

Marc Auge is futuristic in his vision. Travelling frequently between Cuba and the USA, I see the importance and significance as well as importance placed on  Individualism in the USA and solidarity with the society in Cuba. (solidaridad) with less emphasis on the individual.
What Marc Auge proposes can be accomplished by a combination of both the above, which never happened to the Cuban immigrants to Miami, where they quickly became individualistic and were forced to adopt and construct an universe of anti-cubanism, just for survival or monetary gain.
The future would be something like this, if you have a Spanish surname;
Surname  Spanish origin
Race  White   Black  Asian   ( Cuban White,  Africans from Equatorial Guinea,  Filipinos ) or  Mostly Native Indian (Mexico, Central or South America)
The diversity would be furthered even more, when children of Bosnian Roma immigrants to Argentina begin to migrate to the USA!



If any country has a chance to fulfill the futuristic notion of Multi Individualistic Diversity with loyalty to the country of residence, it would be USA. Australia and NZ also stand a good chance of coming ahead in this race. (no pun intended)
Cuban Faces


an american may look like any of the below