We seem to be so connected to each other and to everywhere, so why do we still need cultures to be transferred and exchanged in our global world? A prolific writer and lecturer working on multiculturalism among many other things, Kenan Malik, says the separation of cultures, the production of difference become even more of a mass product than an expensive Starbucks latte in global times. Does contemporary art have an educational mission here in the process of transfer and exchange? In this state, can we really work as artists, curators, writers without being read through our identities, our backgrounds, where we come from? We are all involved in this process of difference production in the cultural field.
To see culture production as separate from politics is naive. The affinities have become even stronger as the potential of culture in the accumulation of global capital is discovered. The examples range from the proliferation of biennials around the world promoted by city administrators and bureaucrats to European Cultural Capital projects and to the construction of the island of Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi hosting the new Guggenheim and Louvre museums. For some theorists, globalization is more a narrative than a reality that organizes not only our history but also our contemporary life. As a clear and coherent process, it is ideology. For this reason, the above mentioned questions cannot be answered without touching on the issues of contemporary, globalization ideology, the critiques of multiculturalism, the production of difference as an ideological tool.
In an article written as reaction to the discussion of accepting sheriat as a viable law form for Muslim people in Britain, Kenan Malik wittily clarifies a large picture of the difference discourse led by multiculturalists. While saying humans as culture bearing creatures they are to view as social, transformative beings; humans having to bear a particular culture disavows such a transformative capacity: “It implies that every human being is so shaped by a particular culture that to change or undermine that culture would be to undermine the very dignity of that individual.” He argues that multiculturalism becomes no less than old-fashioned than racism in this respect.
Malik’s view presents one side of the picture while a very recent referendum in Switzerland banning the constructions of minarets clarifies another. 57 percent is a victory for the rightist Swiss People’s Party and another small religious party who proposed inserting a single sentence banning the construction of minarets to the constitution that guarantees the freedom of religion. An article in the New York Times says “The result came after a controversial campaign that played aggressively on the same fears of Muslim immigration and the spread of Islamic values that already resonate in other European countries.” One of the aggressive strategies used by SPP was an interactive computer game called „Minarett-Attack”.