Reclaiming Western Multiculturalism: Going Beyond the Traditional Dualism
Poston Virginia S..
“Western Culture” is generally presented as being primarily the union of two cultural traditions: the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman. Each has a strong text-based cultural framework (“Classics” and “Scriptures”), as well as a view of the universe that is very anthropocentric. However, the union of these two traditions does not adequately explain the medieval culture of Western Europe, nor does it fully explain some of the conflicts that exist within modern Western civilization. In a visual analogy, the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman can be thought of as two lines, two vectors, but it is necessary to have a third before a stable shape, a triangle, can be defined. I propose that the third “side” or “vector” is the Celto-Germanic. “Celto-Germanic” is an alternative to the terms “barbarian,” “Northern,” “Nordic,” or “Gothic.” There are many books and websites devoted to the subject of the early Celts and Germans. While some are reasonable and rational explorations, many are not. How is the curious student to decide which sources to trust? Even worse than the highly romanticized and benignly pleasant fantasies are the warped and twisted interpretations that promote visions of Celtic and German identity that are used to recruit disenfranchised young men and women to hate-filled, racially-divisive movements. By presenting a more inclusive and integrated view of ancient Western civilization, we as teachers can help to promote a more balanced and, hopefully, tolerant perception of differences within any culture, and especially within the increasingly global civilization of the modern world.
Poston Virginia S. (United States)
Instructor in Art History and Humanities
Department of Art, Music, and Theatre
University of Southern Indiana
Virginia Poston teaches undergraduate-level courses in art history and the humanities, specializing in the art of ancient Greece and Rome. She also works with Medieval European and Central Asian art. Her graduate work was done at the University of Oregon, Eugene, and the Ohio State University, Columbus.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)