1. Literacy critic Edward Said wrote that “the major contest in most modern cultures concerns the definition or interpretation of each culture.” To what extent do the case studies of this chapter support Said’s assertion? The studies of this chapter represent Said’s assertion in that they demonstrate most modern cultures in their typical conflicts with each other. One of the main reasons that groups have fought over time has been simply due to their inability to recognize that their differences open up the possibility for growth rather than simply just cause for fighting. The conflict between the Jews and Arabs is a prominent representation of this concept because of their past prejudices; Jews and Arabs have had very conflicting views in history and thus there was lots of confrontation. In another example, the genocide in Kosovo was a result of Serbians disliking the Muslim religion and resulted in a mass “ethnic cleansing” in their attempts to separate from the different culture. With a more thorough understanding of the differences in their cultures and a clearer interpretation of their ideas, there would likely have been less of a conflict between the cultures.
2. What are the means by which political leaders inflame, or tamp down, potential ethnic, religious, and cultural confrontations? Please give examples. Political leaders both inflame and tamp down potential confrontations; for example, they inflame confrontations by behaving in ways that their people find to be offensive. Patterns include ignoring the opinions of the people, usually a minority in whatever country it is, limiting their privileges, and placing bans and discriminations on the people that are the main instigators against their government. An example of tamping down the potential confrontations was how the South African government eventually accepted the ANC’s movement for racial acceptance, effectively ending apartheid.
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