Thursday, March 11, 2004

French Civics Resources and the Other
Thanks for Brett for pointing me to films (pdf) that the French education minister suggests as civics materials for educators. As Brett points out, Hate is missing from the list, possibly because it is set in contemporary France. The Sorrow and the Pity, which is on the list, is probably more damning but it targets an older generation, who can be comfortably set apart as "the other." It's also very long, so educators might not rush out to get it.

"The other" is one of the film categories here, the others being "the absurdity of racism," "WWII, anti-semiticism and the crime (sic) against humanity," "the fight for the dignity of the individual," and "social violences, crises and wars." I'm actually very sceptical about treating "the other" as a sensible concept because it covers so many degrees and kinds of otherness that it turns out to be awfully vague. Moreover, the meme (god I hate that word) launched by Amartya Sen last year about "the plurality of competing as well as non-competing identities" could soon supercede the idea of "the other." To quote Sen,
"A person can be a Nigerian, an Ibo, a British citizen, a US resident, a woman, a philosopher, a vegetarian, a Christian, a painter, and a great believer in aliens who ride on UFOs - each of these groups giving the person a particular identity which may be invoked in particular contexts."


The Sorrow and the Pity is available on DVD but not at Netflix.

Amartya Sen's essays How to Judge Globalism (from the American Prospect Globalization special) and Democracy and Its Global Roots (from TNR) may interest you.


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