Culture and Heritage Preservation in an Era of Globalization and Modernism: A Comparative Study of China and Nigeria

Culture and Heritage Preservation in an Era of Globalization and Modernism: A Comparative Study of China and Nigeria

Floribert Patrick Calvain Endong (University of Dschang, Cameroon)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3137-1.ch016
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According to a number of myths, the cultural effects of globalization and modernization have not really impeded East Asian countries' efforts towards cultural heritage preservation. In tandem with this, many “fascinated” members of the African intelligentsia view Eastern Asian nations such as China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand among others as true models to be emulated by their nations in the realm of cultural heritage preservation. This chapter examines the extent to which this thesis is plausible, through a critical study of the impact of globalization and modernization on cultural heritage preservation in China and Nigeria. The chapter begins by exploring the question of cultural preservation in an era of modernization and cultural globalization and ends up assessing the degree to which China and Nigeria's efforts towards cultural heritage preservation have been affected by cultural globalization and a West-dominated model of modernization.
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Modernization and cultural globalization have constituted a serious problematic and a dilemma for both Asian and African countries, particularly in the socio-cultural realm (Ekpang, 2008; Endong 2015; Hirai, 2014; Keping, 2012). This observation is connected to the fact that the two paradigms are mostly associated with a number of socio-cultural and political forces that are visibly inimical to the preservation of cultural diversity particularly in Third World countries. Modernization for instance, is arguably equated to a pro-westernization force, and is therefore viewed as one of the phenomena responsible for cultural erosion in Third World countries. In tandem with this, a good number of imaginations stipulate that the modernization paradigm has facilitated Asian and African countries’ systematic adoption of western patterns of development (Endong 2015; Matunhu 2011; Odinye & Odinye 2012; Tunde, 2005). Such an adoption of western patterns has been in almost all realms of human endeavors including the cultural domain. This position visibly hinges on the maxim that, the modernization paradigm entails that developed countries (mostly the US-led West) serve as infallible models and pathfinders to all developing countries. As Giddens (1982) succinctly observes, the modernization paradigm assumes that industrialism and modernism constitute a liberalizing and progressive force; and hence, western societies provide a model to be followed by developing nations, even in the cultural realm. Furthermore, the modernization paradigm stipulates that developing nations are not just underdeveloped, but they are in real sense, undeveloped as they await the impact of industrial transformation. To safely reach the shore of socio-cultural and political development, they must follow the route designed and followed by the western developed countries. Following similar pattern of socio-cultural development with Europe and America has, in essence, meant westernization, Europeanization or Americanization and serious challenges in the domain of culture and heritage preservation in both Asia and African countries.

Similarly to the modernist paradigm, cultural globalization has, for some critics, entailed unavoidable cultural erosion and for others, culture mutations. Scholars such as Griesbrecht (2011) pertinently note that cultural globalization actually presents visible paradoxes. On one hand, the phenomenon enables the cultural empowerment of people and facilitates the construction of a collective identity, meanwhile, on the other hand, it is susceptible to dis-empower people as it enables misrepresentation; facilitates neo-colonization and subtly propels the loss of individualism and group identity. Quoting a large number of culture theorists, Griesbretch (2011) adds that cultural globalization has given rise to two competing visions, one of which is unfriendly to cultural diversity. This vision – which, to him, is inimical to cultural diversity – specifically envisages a corporate-dominated monoculture where nations and cultural groups alike are deprived of autonomy and identity.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Confucianism: A system of ethical and philosophical teachings founded by Confucius, developed by Mencius, and later used to educate the general public.

Modernization: Process of socio-economic transformation whereby a nation changes from a pre-modern to a modern stage.

Westernization: Social process whereby a given nation or society systematically comes under or adopts/absorbs Western cultural values at multiple levels of its life.

Cultural Preservation: The act of using deliberate and well-designed methodologies to maintain cultural heritage from the past for the benefit of the present and future generations.

McDonaldization: A process whereby the principles of fast-food restaurants more and more dominate various sectors of a society.

Cultural Imperialism: A process whereby the culture or language of a dominant nation is promoted and subtly injected into another country.

Indigenization: Process whereby foreign concepts are adapted to suit local contexts.

Cultural Globalization: Process whereby particular cultures, meanings, ideas, values, and experiences are disseminated throughout the world through various means.

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