Regionalism: (1) modern architecture and cultural identity

Essay by Sawadooo November 2004

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The phenomenon of universalization. while being an advancement of

mankind. at the same time constitutes a sort of subtle destruction. not only

of traditional cultures. which might not be an irreparable wrong. but also of

what I Shall call for the time being the creative nucleus of great civilizations

and great culture, that nucleus on the basis of which we interpret life. what

Inhale call in advance-the ethical and mythical nucleus of mankind. The

conflict springs up from there. We have the feeling that this single world

civilization at the same time exerts a sort of attrition or wearing away at the

expense of the cultural resources which have made the great civilizations

of the past. This threat is expressed. among other disturbing effects. by the

spreading before our eyes of a mediocre civilization which is the absurd

counterpart of what I was just calling elementary cu1.ture. Everywhere

throughout the world.

one finds the same bad movie.. the same slot

machines. the same plastic or aluminium atrocities. the same twisting of

language by: propaganda. etc. It seems as if mankind. by approaching en

masse a basic consumer culture. were also stopped en masse at a sub

cultural level. Thus we come to the crucial problem confronting nations just

rising from underdevelopment.

In order to get on to the road toward modernization. is it necessary to

jettison the old cultural past which has been the raison d'etreofa nation? . . .

Whence the paradox: on the one hand. it (the nation) has to root itself in

the soil of its past. forge a national spirit. and unfurl this spiritual and

cultural revendication before the colonialist's personality. But in order to

take part in modern civilization. it is necessary at the same time to take part

in scientific. technical. and political rationality,