Beginning with an overview of the fractured state of the contemporary global landscape, with its economic and social winners on the one hand and extreme poverty and marginalisation on the other, Dr Serageldin inquired into its impact on public cultures. He defined culture as ‘a complex whole of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterise a society or social group.’ Culture would thus include not only the value systems, traditions and beliefs of a society but also its aesthetic expressions.
An enthusiastic question and answer session followed with special focus on the impact of economic and social factors in the Muslim understanding of modernity and tradition. Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Dr. Amyn B. Sajoo broached the continuity and intertwining of historical and contemporary East-West identities – as opposed to the obsession with rupture that feeds the ‘clash of civilisations’ discourse.
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