Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cultural Diversity and European Integration

Ewha Womans University
(Image from Wikipedia)

The photo above shows pretty much what I see nearly every morning after exiting the subway station and heading for the entrance to Ewha campus, and I'll be seeing this scene later on this early Sunday morning, albeit with fewer students milling about, as I head for my duty as judge in a nationwide speech contest sponsored, if I recall correctly, by the JoongAng Daily.

Because of this early morning responsibility, I have little time for a substantive blog entry today, but I can at least note that Ewha's Division of International Studies has asked me to teach its course on European History this coming spring semester since the regular instructor will be on sabbatical. I intend to rework a course that I designed for Yonsei University's Underwood International College. Some of this will sound familiar to long-time readers of Gypsy Scholar:
In the book Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, Robert Kagan proposes that Europeans are "turning away from power . . . [and] moving . . . into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation . . . . a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Immanuel Kant's 'perpetual peace'" (page 3). But is this European perception of its role realistic or deluded? European integration has drawn together a collection of distinct nations, each characterized by its own particular culture, forming the EU a truly multicultural organization. These nations, nevertheless, share much the same civilizational identity, as Samuel Huntington (Clash of Civilizations) would have agreed and Rémi Brague (Eccentric Civilization) would still attempt to set forth. But as Christopher Caldwell shows in Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West, the ongoing, extensive immigration from the world to Europe may be introducing a more radical version of multiculturalism, as groups adhering to other than Western identities begin to dominate and to practice, if not explicitly demand, cultural autonomy. Do such groups pose a political threat to the European paradise of peace? Were the Paris riots, for example, a harbinger of cultural -- perhaps even civilizational -- conflict to come? And with the current economic problems reflected in the Euro currency's woes exacerbate these cultural differences and bring the entire process of European integration to a halt, even a collapse? This course will focus upon such questions, broadly conceived.
This is a preliminary draft of the course description, and I intend to rework and reword it as soon as I get beyond finals grading and other editing jobs that have piled up recently.

Meanwhile, wish me energy for today's judging duty. I foresee three grueling hours . . .

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At 7:33 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

This is a preliminary draft of the course description

Very good! if the opinion of a subject-mattered European means anything :-)

Meanwhile, wish me energy

May the Force be with you.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks. I'm off to act as judge and might need to draw on the dark side of the force . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:43 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Viel Glück!

At 11:48 AM, Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

Hope everything worked out okay. Sounds like a course certain left-wing loonybin universities over here could adopt to their students' benefit.

At 2:25 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Kevin. The judging role was easier than expected.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:27 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

TSI, the judging process went smoothly enough.

As for the course, I'm hoping that it will catch students' attention. South Korea is facing the issue of multiculturalism these days and therefore needs to reflect on what can work.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:59 PM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

The Anthony Burgess novel Byrne treats some of these issues. Burgess is highly critical of what's happening in Europe (he is writing from the perspective of the early 90s, but already sees a coming crisis). I reviewed Byrne for World literature Today and some of that review found its way into Critical Synoptics, and can be viewed here:

on Byrne

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Carter, for the link and alert. I'd not heard of the poem by Burgess.

Jeffery Hodges

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