- Hardcover: 717 pages
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1 edition (December 30, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 039458581X
- ISBN-13: 978-0394585819
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.8 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,997,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Dictionary of Global Culture 1st Edition
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A great palliative for those who thought the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy was too Eurocentric. Appiah and Gates offer what they think everyone should know about Global High Culture (don't look for kitsch here), ranging across the fields of science, politics, the arts, humanities, religion, and philosophy.
From School Library Journal
YAAThis dictionary's 1200 entries were submitted by esteemed scholars from all over the world who were asked to name the 50 most significant events in their cultures. Entries include literature, political groups, religion, and concepts, and vary in length from a paragraph to more than a full page. Connections are made between the entries' original contexts and the ways they have been expanded globally over time. For example, readers learn that the Chinese examination system served as the model for our civil service system. A sampling of people included are Jan Hus, a 15th-century religious reform leader; Taha Husayn, an Egyptian writer; Shi Hu, a Chinese scholar, educator, and diplomat; and Juana de Ibarbourou, an Uruguayan poet. Information about each individual includes the dates of birth and death, nationality, and significance to the culture. This exceptional work is useful for reference and is entertaining reading as well.ABobbi Thomas Skaggs, Robinson Secondary, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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For instance, pages 164 - 165 contains entries on Dada (International visual arts and literary movement); Dahomey, kingdom of (African kingdom); Dakshina (Region of India); Dali Lama XIV (Spiritual leader of the Tibetians); Dalton, Roque (El Salvadoran poet, historian and revolutionary); Damien, Father (Belgian priest and missionary).
I keep my copy in my bathroom, and have been reading through it for a few years.
I have ordered copies for a number of young people, so they can grow up less ignorant about the world and history.
All these items and people belong to what is called global culture. With the internet and instant updating of information, we are now truly a global community. As a result, we must update our own mental files to include terminology and people of other places, times, people, cultural events. That's where "The Dictionary of Global Culture" comes in. Henry Gates, Jr, (one of my favorite intellectuals and a professor at Harvard) and Kwame Anthony Appiah (philosopher, writer, professor currently at Princeton) compiled and edited this major undertaking.
They make clear in the introduction that ideas from a global perspective are not meant to displace Western ideas, but to enrich them. "Our idea in making this book was a simple one: to give ... a sampler of cultural contributions from around the globe" (xi).
The project began when they asked a colleague, Jiaxing Wang, to provide a list of essential products of Chinese civilization that readers should know. The list surprised them by omissions of things sure to be on it--gunpowder, noodles, Mao Zedong-- and inclusion of surprising items like Spring Festival. This list of essential items became the basis for inclusion from experts in cultures all around the globe. An identical challenge was presented to each.
A griot, then, is a "professional oral historian who carries on the ancient tradition of praise-singing, storytelling, and genealogy in contemporary African culture; they are often compared to bards in other traditions" (262). As Gates and Appiah explain in the introduction, a tradition from one culture is often carried to another country and syncretized into its tradition. The griot in Africa became Uncle Remus in the South telling the stories of Br'er Rabbit and morals deduced.
Che Guevara was a "guerrilla leader in South America and prominent figure in the Cuban revolution" and originally the source of the idea that the only solution to massive poverty in Latin America was violent revolution.
The Mari letters are ancient Canaanite cuneiform tablets that provided information about the reign of Hammurabi of Mesopotamia and its extensive influence on the region. Most importantly, this information shows that "the ancient Hebrew texts of the Old Testament were a complex mix of legend, myth, polemic, and social history" (439).
Ibn Rushd (Averroes as he is known in the West) was an Islamic philosopher and scientist who was born in Spain in 1126. It was through his work and translations of Aristotle that Western scholars "re-discovered" Aristotle.
I often conclude alphabetical books with the last entry, serendipitous to me, a Louisiana native, as the last term is "zydeco." It is a "style of Cajun, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-American traditions, played predominantly in southwest Louisiana and east Texas" (716). Again, the syncretism, or blending of cultures of the West and areas outside (Louisiana, France, Haiti, Africa) to create a new tradition, is so representative of global culture.
These are just several entries "from the miscellany of human achievement" (xiv). If you found them interesting, imagine what 717 pages will do for your mental processor!