Symposium „cultural imperialism“ -  “Kulturimperialismus”, Prof. Dr. Bernd Hamm, Universität Trier, 10/ 2002

I have decided to not wait for the conference or the proceedings but put the issues on the table, maybe some of you will enjoy...


Recognizing and Responding to Cultural Imperialism



The author begins by identifying the similarities and differences between e.g. egoism, tribalism, sectarianism, and imperialism. He maintains that the inner structures of these concepts are very close: in the sense that they each encourage an obsession with one's own point of view to the exclusion of all others. “Isms”, like: Egoism, tribalism, sectarianism, and imperialism differ, however, in their scale, the extent and proportion of their consequences, and the issues upon which they impact.

The author, by training a “map and model maker”, uses those "tools" rather than merely images or words, to help us overcome individual and conceptual barriers to understanding (see also his quite old “borderland profile”. He identifies "ideal" locations and how we can relate the “me“, “we”, “us”, and “others” views/realities as conceptual "islands", and ponders how their representation and construction dominate our assumptions about what is “right” or “true”, or what is beyond the “ecology” and “deep ecology”, or the out-side and in-side world, if there are shared social or knowledge worlds, and how we can connect to them, maybe even translate, merge and morph representations “between” these models. He thus shows how we collect and justify our fragmented (isolated/insulated) observations or dare to create and share extra models to make observable and negotiable also parts of the “non-given” or not directly visible and possible to experience directly (things you might only see with the microscope, or in other times, fields, or cultures).


His concern is the verbiage without reference to the world. He later differentiates a “woms eye”, a one-dimensional perspective - something without any extensional or deep “perspective”, in contrast to the also discussed fish-eye, birds-eye, generational- and cultural-eyes, which we can jointly construct and explore in order to be able differentiate our view-points. The central element of the presentation is dedicated to Peirce`s "Sign Theory” and how to bridge media and representations (see chapter “Profound Ignorance and In-Between”). He feels that maps and models might help for the “inter-subjective”, overcoming the "object-subject"-chasm by adding an extra dimension, or by not adding the consideration of time to our world concepts, see Jean Gebser, but also “extra spaces”, order spaces, or shared models as the author has put forward..


First will be the review of map projections, the Mercator vs. the Peter’s map projection, and what prevailed before such “projections”, e.g. the “isolario general” and "platon real", a master collection of singular observations, (island maps) without a common framework for orientation, without the idea of a global with common grids. (see ongoing further work of the author).

            He will later show how in the early days of modern “empires” such world-maps were used to shape world-views and contribute to the consciousness, awareness and belief-system of that time. He will demonstrate how at that time the world was seen and explained, how that was relevant to education, science, and policy making, and that such “designs” were not to explain the “eternal” and “not-given”, but to help us to get along in daily life, as individuals, as nations, or as humanity, to cope and survive ...

And how other models, projections, displays, can help us to see more elements, in a coherent and comprehensive, maybe new “format”. Example are the recently after 50 years re-published Arno Peter’s Synchronoptical Chart of World History  see also coverage in the CEBIT 2002, Hanover MEDICI session (see folio 11 and 12), the Integral Agenda, which adds another dimension to the display, and the topic of coherence and organismic / systemic views (UNITY IN DIVERSITY), or wholeness or lumping, in contrast to splittering and focus only on details without of context.


The presentation furthermore reflects and ponders other ways to present and communicate, make real and concrete, like the “synchronoptic cultural history atlas” which holds “parallel views”, and the design and joint “immersion into what the author calls a “Cognitive Panorama“ or “House of Horizons and Perspectives” for concerted views in agreed “Frames of Reference” (pls. see also here and here).

                This construction was later called by children a “House of Eyes (without walls)” where an individual or group “materialises” positions, levels and perspectives, in order to jointly explore from “where” someone is making his statements and drawing his assumptions and conclusions, where concretely in a conceptual and extensional place or model, we can jointly navigate and share observations and views.


The purpose of all of these endeavours?


The result of such a joint realization of concrete and perspective (extensional) levels and boundaries of our thinking would be this: We move and change positions, become part of the “other” side and by just moving “boundaries” between assumptions, together exercise mental mobility/locomoation, and compare and edit view: Overcome the single view of certain “isms” like “imperialism”, and conceptualise terms and concepts (see: Words in Space) in order to avoid empty and blind schism (Immanuel Kant) and make our communication more vivid, appealing, and “solid/concrete”.


Such reflections necessarily have to include the impact on cultures by new media in a “global” world. And if there are answers to the question: “Is Humanity Destined to Self- Destruct” which the author answers with the central concern about “Show or Schau” – and leaving us to decide which Future to select and work for (pls. see also how we work on such alternative positive futures with the youth in the Future Raft project).



Heiner Benking, Berlin

Entwurf für Symposium “Kulturimperialismus”, Prof. Dr. Bernd Hamm, Universität Trier, 10/ 2002

revised version July 2002