Fault Lines

The Forgotten Earth: Polyculturalism and Multiculturalism in Meena Alexander's Fault Lines

Culture, unlike biology, should allow us to seek liberation from cruel and uncomfortable practices. But instead culture wraps us in a suffocating embrace. ... re cultures discrete or bounded? ...Who defines the boundaries of culture or allows for change? Do cultures leak into each other? Can a person from one culture critique another culture? (Prashad xi)

Vijay Prashad, addressing the racial tension between Asian-Americans and African-Americans in Los Angeles, argues for a new kind of thinking about the merging and clashing of cultures in America and the rest of the world. Multiculturalism, broadly put, attempts to preserve and respect the differing originating (or diverging) cultures within a unified society, such as the United States. Polyculturalism asserts that it is "grounded in anti-racism rather than diversity" (xi), and "assumes that people live coherent lives that are made up of a host of lineages" (xii). The difference is one of perception and of practice. While respecting differing cultures, polyculturalism does not necessarily embrace the negatives associated with each culture (homophobia, sexism, classism, workforce cruelty, racism, etc.). Rather, it discovers and seeks to understand the common...

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