Emerging Perspectives in the Humanities: Understanding Cultures Through Literatures of Other Worlds
The essential spirit of contemporary cultural and literary studies since the 1970s was to disrupt the established tradition with other kinds of culture and literary concepts such as those of gender, marginality, difference, representation, identity, diaspora, class, race and sexuality. The paper will examine the poetics and politics of disruption and decentering through cultural and literary forms and focus on the awakening of the new powerful consciousness aesthetically expressed by the muted voices at the margins. How do cultural and literary forms contest and challenge the politics of representation? How do these forms transform the sense of identity of cultures, societies and minority groups including women? Finally how are these productions relevant to societal transformation? While exploring these seminal notions within the context of multiculturalism, the paper will view the role of humanities and its relevance in being reinvented and relativized. The interface of literature and culture can effectively capture and initiate a cultural dialogue which will strengthen and enhance our understanding of other cultures. The paper will make a plea for an international concept that involves the relativization of the disciplines of humanities in order to combine and promote a cultural balance in our perception of the world. The seminal value involved in this new concept of humanities lies not merely on pluralism or on tolerance of otherness but in a strong sense of awareness that the self has no meaning in its productivity except in its interaction and inter relation with others.
Keywords: Multiculturalism, Interface, Literature And Culture, Difference, Identity, Diaspora, Representation, Marginality, The Other, Dialogue, Pluralism, Diversity
Dr. Renuka Rajaratnam
Humanities Worker,, Centre for Research on New International Economic Order, University of Madras