3. The Case for Contamination
Those first questions lead me to create a personal internet site. My web site was inspired by questions I had from the UNESCO vote and also from an article in the New York Times Magazine on 1 January 2006. The article described as “one philosopher’s hope for a new world in a new year” detailed a vision of tomorrow based on individuals, mixity, modernity, rights and the concept of cultural contamination.
The Case for Contamination was the argument that lead to my creating a fictitious internet nation, called “contamiNation”. During the following year I tracked, posted and commented on articles from the international media on “what it exactly means to be a contaminated individual and how that effects the world today.” (Appendix 4)
Over the course of 2006 I commented on sixty-four newspaper articles and classified them into twelve categories: dance, film, food, home, land, museums, music, policy, sport, theatre, tourism and trade. On 15 January 2006 I commented on an editorial from Le Devoir of Canada. The article asked, “What is the Place of Culture?” Worried by the influx of American culture into Canada the Canadian Television and Film Union requested each candidate in the upcoming general elections to state their position on cultural policy. (Appendix 5)
In February, The Philippine Daily Inquirer argued the importance and value of conservation practices in historical quarters as important social and economic stimulants. “It does not freeze,” as stated in the article, “a city and its people in their past … it brings the city forward into the future.” (Appendix 6)
An article in May in the International Herald Tribune detailed cultural borrowing and lending and the influence of Martin Luther King Jr’s ideas and thoughts on the evolution of modern China. (Appendix 7) In October news appeared on the Korean Indie Wire of the outcomes of a panel discussion from the 11th Pusan International Film Festival in Korea. The conference addressed the effects of trade policy on local Film industries. The directors and producers in attendance argued favorably for the ability of nations to set quotas on foreign produced films entering a national territory. (Appendix Eight)
Finally in December an article from IPS highlighting discussions from the World Social Forum in Brazil was published. In Brazil, cultural domination was linked to colonialism and the delegates called, as they did at the end of the era of colonialism, for new models of cultural development. (Appendix 9)
Throughout 2006 the articles I collected and stored on my blog clearly indicated a global shift was underway. Common threads of anxiety, identity, creativity and policy were finding expression in different areas around the world. All of these issues fell loosely into the field of cultural policy. From film makers, to dancers, to authors and museum curators, the role of government and regulation within the emerging cultural industries were being expressed.
Based on the observations from maintaining my blog and my professional experience at UNESCO I began to identify important questions that were the foundations for further research. The first questions were broad and vaguely linked but they were important. For example: Was there a role for the free exchange of words and images in mutual understanding? Could this exchange have an economical dimension? Was there a dramatic global cultural shift underway as demonstrated by the UNESCO vote? Could cultural policy hold the potential for a new framework to address social and economic development? Was there possibly a national experiment in motion that was attempting to address these issues?