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70 6 Between Cultures What happens between cultures endows the alien with a special hue which leads to the development of a specific science of the alien—ethnology or cultural anthropology. The intercultural encounter has always been connected to a questionable form of colonial alien politics. Recently, ethnoscience and ethnopolitics have acquired new forms under the sign of globalization. However, this expanded perspective cannot deceive us about the fact that what happens between cultures always also reflects what happens between and to individuals. Not only does alienness start from ourselves, but the attempts to transgress it begin in our own home. The task of this chapter is to recapitulate the main episodes of the preceding considerations, albeit in an abbreviated shape. 1. Interculturality as In-Between Sphere “Interculturality” should be taken literally. What happens between different cultures cannot be reduced to the simple fact that there are several cultures, all of which exhibit countable and comparable features or sets of features. Just as every comparison of language starts from a particular language, so does every comparison of culture. There is no place beyond cultures which could grant us an unbiased and unrestrained overview. As Europeans, we can escape our own culture just as little as we can our own body and our own language. There can be no culturalism which regards the own culture and the alien culture as one among others. Such a culturalism would simply repeat on the geographical-spatial plane what nineteenth-century historicism exercised on the historical-temporal plane. The museal culture, which Nietzsche denounced in his Untimely Meditations, would simply shift from the home to the exotic. The defects of multiculturalism only seem to be corrected when one tries to eliminate the boundaries that separate a specific culture, regardless if one understands individual cultures as parts of a universal culture, or if all these cultures are subjected to some transcultural standards. The “United Nations ” is an institution which performs its duties in “a quick and dirty” fashion. To wait for the UN to turn into the “United Cultures” means pro- 71 B E T W E E N C U L T U R E S curing an intercultural Esperanto which has been long discarded as a linguistic utopia. We encounter something similar in the relation between the world market and world culture. Were we to trade ideas like we trade shares, they would soon become communicatively worn out; everything in them that provokes and unsettles would get lost. Nietzsche’s “normal human” [Normalmensch] would have to find his dubitable home in the normal ideas of a normal culture. However, if the word “interculturality” is taken seriously, we reach an in-between sphere not unlike Husserl’s intersubjectivity or Merleau-Ponty’s intercorporeality. Such an in-between sphere cannot, in its intermediary character, be reduced to something of its own or integrated into a whole; nor can it be submitted to universal laws. What happens between us belongs neither to each of us nor to all of us. It rather constitutes a no-man’s land, a liminal landscape which simultaneously connects and separates. That which exists in such a way as to escape our access, we designate as alien. To be worthy of its name, interculturality must presume a division into own culture and alien culture; in the same vein Husserl assigns the alien-world to the home-world. Such a division does not exclude the processes of pluralization, universalization, or globalization ; yet these processes would have to presuppose an experience of the alien which they never fulfill. The alien culture, just like one’s own, is more than one culture among many, more than a partial culture or a playground for general laws. If this extra value is eliminated, we are doomed to step on the inclined plane of a unilateral absorption of the alien or an erasure of the difference between the own and the alien. Our Western history has been replete with such attempts. 2. The Ambiguity of the Alien The problem of the alien begins with its name. Nothing is more common than the German word fremd (alien) and its variations and derivations like Fremdling (alien being), Fremde (alien land), Fremdsprache (alien language), Fremdeln (fear of the alien), Entfremdung (alienation), or Verfremdung (estrangement). However, as soon as we try to render the word fremd in other languages, we encounter a polysemy which exhibits three different nuances of meaning with the corresponding contrasts. Fremd is firstly that which occurs outside of...


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