In the end, there isn't much `there, there'...at all.
November 26, 2019 12:39 PM Subscribe
I did it -- I taught "Clash of Civilizations" to my "Intro to IR" students.A single Twitter thread by Paul Poast on teaching Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations.
Originally published in 1993 in Foreign Affairs, The Clash of Civilizations was an attempt to try and explain a post-Cold War world and the challenges it may face. In Huntington's view:
It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.Needless to say this view evoked fierce criticism, by e.g. Edward Said:
In fact, Huntington is an ideologist, someone who wants to make "civilizations" and "identities" into what they are not: shut-down, sealed-off entities that have been purged of the myriad currents and countercurrents that animate human history, and that over centuries have made it possible for that history not only to contain wars of religion and imperial conquest but also to be one of exchange, cross-fertilization and sharing. This far less visible history is ignored in the rush to highlight the ludicrously compressed and constricted warfare that "the clash of civilizations" argues is the reality.In the Twitter thread, University of Chicago professor of international relations Paul Poast lays out step by step how he taught this somewhat controversial idea, starting with whether it should be taught at all:
In short, I said, "Maybe this is a dangerous idea. But it's sufficiently prominent that you are likely to hear it at some point. Plus, at @UChicago we don't shy away from an idea, even if it's dangerous. We engage it and see if there is any `there, there'".
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