Sunday March 31st
Authors(s): Ryan Dunch
Source: History and Theory, Vol.41, No 3. (Oct., 2002), pp. 301-305
Published by: Blackwell Publishing for Welesyan University
The author Ryan Dunch obtained a PhD in history at Yale university and also studied in British Columbia and finished his B.A in Asian studies in the Australian National university. Presently he is Chairman of the department of East Asian Studies at the university of Alberta. He had been awarded numerous research grants and also published numerous articles regarding the subject of East-Asia. Although he had finished his M.A in history in classical studies, his concentration subjects revolve mostly around religion in Asia, specifically, China and Tawain.
To present the subject the Author introduces the meaning of ''Cultural imperialism'' by portraying the problems that this term highlights and hides in the processes of cultural interaction. He depicts of how this ''cultural imperialism'' term was always associated with the actions of Christian missionaries in the nineteen and twentieth century's in China's and other countries in general.
He begins by presenting different views from different authors about the term mentioned above and how it is judged and explained in different societies. Analyzing the concept, the author vividly gives us examples of that countries use different methods to influence others and impose their own products to profit i.e organizations such as in the U.S influencing with no doubt other kids in foreign countries to listen to Michael Jackson and wear Nike. Others argue that American-derived slogans have everywhere around the world, but this cultural influence does not only originate from there. Most importantly is that he indicates that because the term culture and imperialism combined together are hard to define, we cannot limit ourselves to one theory of how the west influenced and imposed on not Western-societies because cultural dominance cannot be calculated by one country's impact on another without examining variables such as implicit coercive forces and the autonomy aspect of the people being ''consciously colonized''. Although it is acknowledgeable that abstract forces like capitalism, industrialization have restructured human society, it is still narrow minded to judge only with such variables, when only certain conditions are applicable in order to influence others, even though the west has wielded a determining influence on global culture.
In the other sections the author continues his argumentation about ''cultural imperialism'', but this time introducing concepts such as Missionaries, indigenous agents and colonized consciousness are actually methods that were used to propagate western culture. A couple of authors criticized that the missionary movement had political and economic reasons but at the same time helped establish a modern state, in countries such as India. Some argue that it was with their racist mentalities they imposed by introducing the concept of ''civilization'', thus adding hatred to their reputation. Said argues that it was by pure conversation, that a mental shift was triggered which led to a ''prolitarisation'' of the Tsawan tribe in Africa, which is also known as ''colonized consciousness''. In China's written history it is the missionaries that played a significant role in the country's modernization even though intention were not always good. Then he continues exposing more arguments about ''cultural imperialism'' and ''cultural exchange regarding the role of missionaries. In the end it is agreeable that the Indigenous populations who were colonized would be a good key in learning the true facet of interaction and cultural exchange that went on for centuries to really understand how one culture influenced another, rather than always considering the fact that one culture was imposed on another.
I am in agreement with the author regarding the question of ''cultural imperialism'' because we really do have to go beyond the missionary movement to really understand the analysis of cultural interaction around the world. I find that the offered ''equation'' in the text, is unsatisfactory because it disregards the countries that were acted upon, not explaining their reaction towards imperial influence and envisions the cultural transitions as a product of coercive maneuvers which leads me to look for subjugation or resistance as an answer to the results of ''cultural imperialism'' surrounding the questions of cultural exchange and cultural imposition. It is not relevant enough, but then again because the west had a yielding industrial and technological advantage, it is not hard for me to agree that they brought most of their influences to countries like China and India which had as much as a positive and a negative effect disregarding the autonomous factor of the actor being influenced. I find the motives to be useless when it comes explaining the truth behind the modernization of countries like China or the Tsawana tributes in Africa. In the context of our class we learned that China looked at the Christian westerns with disdain, but in the end it is the westerner's Christian influence that helped China rise and become a part of modernity. Some theories that were mentioned by the author can be applied explaining China's development, but Cities such as Shanghai were able to develop themselves thanks to an influential Christian communities. The text is itself a critic on the term Cultural imperialism, and the difficulty to define it which produces difficulties regarding the subject of the ''how cultures'' influenced others and disregarding the ''coerce factor''. Nevertheless, I still acknowledge that the west was able to develop and help many retrograded countries at the expense of indigenous people, even if it is hard to examine scrupulously the ''what variables and how variables of the colonized ones''.