Saturday, 30 May 2009

Acceptable Imperialism?

Living in another country does make you aware of how easy it is to fall into culturally imperialistic attitudes. By that I mean the assumption that your norm is better that the new norm you’re encountering. With this can unwittingly come the urge to convert all around to your way of thinking. I could quite easily become a crusader for the supremacy of the three-pin plug! I’ve long held that the UK as the best system of delivering electricity to devices I’ve ever encountered. Or I could campaign against the common practice here of attempting to overtake four cars at once into a blind corner. Such behaviour is not normal in the UK as we generally relieve such drivers of the undue pressure of holding a driving licence.

However, these and similar desires have to be curbed because different is so often just different; not better or worse. The danger is every new experience is greeted with a value judgement rather than being embraced for what it is. While I don’t underestimate the power of learning from different cultures, the world to does not need Anglicising, nor yet Americanising. However, today we were at a graduation event that served up an array of fine American cakes over drinks afterwards. Part of me felt this a little culturally insensitive. Bosnia and Herzegovina has a noble cake tradition of its own. But as my teeth sank around the thick, gooey goodness of a heavy chocolate cupcake I was forced to ponder if this was, in fact, the acceptable face of cultural imperialism!


Postgate said...

This piece made me laugh out loud! Thanks.

Made a really good choc fudge cake this week; have discovered that Cadbury's Bournville gives it all that it needs in terms of flavour and topping.

David said...

Chocolate cake overcomes all boundaries.