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Mind Openers: Culture and Conflicts


By Ajay Singh

Published Jul 1, 2007 8:00 AM

In our rapidly globalizing world, conflicts often erupt when people from different cultures interact. Globalization's economic and political impact has been widely studied, but its cultural effects are not fully understood.

A collaboration between the UCLA School of Public Affairs and the Design | Media Arts program fills this gap with a new series of books titled "The Cultures and Globalization Series." Each volume in this graphically illustrated series is written by leading experts and scholars who track key cultural trends related to globalization, including the role of cultural differences in politics and governance and the changing patterns of artistic creativity and practice.

The first book in the series, a 664-page tome titled Conflicts and Tensions, was launched recently in Los Angeles and London (book tours are planned in Amsterdam, Berlin, Cairo and Beirut). Containing 160 pages of eye-catching graphics created by Design | Media Arts Lecturer Willem Henri Lucas, the book introduces readers to the world's cultural fault lines and suggests ways in which culture can be used to prevent and resolve conflict.

"It's not the amount of conflict we have in a society that's important, but how we deal with it," says Helmut Anheier, professor at the School of Public Affairs and co-editor of the series along with Yudhishthir Raj Isar, a professor of cultural policy studies at the American University of Paris. Most conflicts are within countries and religions rather than between them, adds Anheier, pointing to Iraq as the most potent example.

Anheier and Isar are currently finishing work on the second book in the series, which is about the relationship between globalization and the cultural economy.