Cultural Decentring and Palimpsests of Identity
The idea of the linear passage from tradition to mod-ernity is replaced by the affirmation that modernity isdefined by the diversity and multiplication of alterna-tives, the ability to associate past and future. There isa complete change of perspective: it was once thoughtthat the modern world was unified and traditional so-ciety was fragmented; today, on the contrary,modernisation seems to be taking us from homogene-ity to heterogeneity.
To abstract modernisation from its original context issimply to recognise that the processes that shape ithave lost their centre, spreading through the world tothe rhythm of capital formation, the diffusion of knowledge and technologies, the globalization of mass media, the extension of formal schooling, thedizzying circulation of fashions and the universalisa-tion of certain patterns of consumption.
José Joaquín Brunner
The above passages sum up different points of view aboutthe de-centring of modernity, revealing the diverse scenariosand the contradictory trends that criss-cross the question of identity. While from the centre the focus seems to be on thequestion of how to live with diversity, or, better, how tomake it liveable, from the periphery the question is differ-ent: how to avoid getting lost, being dissolved in the power-ful swell of globalisation that destabilises countries andthreatens the plurality of their cultures.