Of white savages and savage whites. Facets of the European-Overseas encounter
The author opines that often the roots of national conflicts are national chauvinism, racism, ethnocentrism, and the religious belief of being the ´Chosen people´. The dialog of ´civilizations´, a necessity especially after the assaults of September 11, 2001, presupposes being conscious of one´s own culture. One´s own cultural tradition stands in the way of a neutral appreciation of other civilizations. It is necessary, according to Ducks, that all people(s) learn to assume the positions of the other side in order to assess possible conflicts from the ´other´ viewpoint. Including the history of ideas on this subject, the author thus discusses ´occidental provincialism´, i.e. the relativist character of western culture, and argues for a multi-faceted cultural universe, instead of the dull global monoculture Lévi-Strauss had predicted in the 1970s. Not sharing Lévi-Strauss´s pessimism, Ducks sees (with K.-H. Kohl) a widespread ´instrumental adoption´ of western cultural and technical artifacts in specific ways of other cultures.
Keywords: white savages, savage whites, national chauvinism, chauvinism, cultural chauvinism, European-overseas encounter, otherness, alterity, hierarchy and otherness, monoculture, multiculture, Lévi-Strauss, C., Kohl, K.-H.