Bob Geldof – the “saviour” of the cultures of the world?
I just came across a post on the Norwegian-German blog antropologi.info (also on our blogs-we- like-list) about Bob Geldof and his latest project: together with the BBC he is planning to digitally document all living cultures. As the blogger points out, Geldof’s premise is that the cultures of the world need saving before they are all homogenized. He apparently wants to “capture all 900 of the separate groups of people anthropologists believe exist in the world”. Here we see again the widely popular notion of “cultures” as distinct, static and unchanging entities threatened by Western-led globalization. It seems a pity that this outdated view should be perpetuated by the BBC who in its reportages so often manages to portray a very different image of the cultural dynamics in globalization: i.e. in which a new diversity is created by the encounter between global consumer goods, media, ideas and institutions with local ways of doing and thinking. One of my own recent examples comes from Calcutta, where my husband and I went into a discotheque. On the surface this looked very much like a club in Berlin or Barcelona, yet here we were at 4 in the afternoon, surrounded by a colourful mix of (upper)-middle class youth (18+), wildly dancing and singing along to bollywood songs (especially Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai from the film “Gangster”). People drank few alcoholic drinks, dressed modestly and all would go home at 9 o’clock, just like good girls (as everywhere else nobody worries about the boys) are supposed to. A few years ago Marie Gillespie has written about the same day discotheques in London, which cater to the Punjabi youth of Southall.