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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds In the previous sessions, we have seen various manifestations of modernity. Among them the case of the novel as discussed by Dr. Florian Lippert. And Dr. Stefan Couperus discussed the political manifestation of modernity. However, these are but two of several manifestations of modernity. Rather than speak of modernity then, we should perhaps speak of multiple modernities. Modernity is also manifest in information technology, in philosophy, in intercultural relations. But perhaps more important than noting this multiplicity, we must note that the different domains influence each other. As Dr. Couperus indicated, technological development has brought about climate change. This in turn, has mobilised both political forces and cultural forces.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 seconds Firstly, the inadequate responses by established authorities has brought about a re-emergence of grassroots political movements such as Occupy and WikiLeaks. Secondly, such political movements have influence counterculture, music and aesthetic currents that popularise anti-authoritarian ideology. Think, for example, of the overlap between music festival culture and environmentalist thought, or the relationship between punk rock and anti-globalisation. In both cases, a modern ideology such as environmentalism or anti-globalisation is popularised through a form of popular culture rather than through official political discourse or state education. Adolescents attracted by the rebel attitude of punk rock are exposed to anti-globalisation thought and assimilate this as part of a package. Now grassroots, bottom-up popular movements are a recurring phenomena in modernity.

Skip to 1 minute and 58 seconds They emerge in times of crises in which established figures and institutions of authority fail to respond adequately to the problems at hand. Think of the protests in ‘68, the protests against nuclear waste management. Or the demise of communist regimes in the former Warsaw Pact area, or perhaps the banking crisis. In each of these cases we see a grassroots response to problems that affect not only counterculture, but all of society. And in each of these cases, we see innovations in the arts, graffiti, for example, in popular music, punk rock, and fashion. That is to say there are multiple modernities.

Skip to 2 minutes and 39 seconds And these multiple modernities affect each other in ways that, if we study them, allow us to reflect on how, for example, popular culture can generate political ideas for tomorrow’s world, or how music can serve to garner popular support for political leaders. In order to delve deeper into the interrelation between these multiple modernities, Dr. Steve Milder and Dr. Vera Alexander will work out the case of environmentalism in its various manifestations. And later this week, Alberto Godioli and Dr. Clemens Six will work out the dark and the bright sides of modernity.

Europe's multiple modernities

In this video, we return to the concept of multiple modernities.

We have looked at literature and politics as two spaces where modernity manifests itself: but we should also look at philosophy, technology and intercultural relations. These domains, Dr Konstantin Mierau says, are connected: changes in one bring about other changes in other domains. ‘Modernity’ cannot capture all these changes, nor the specific ways in which all these fields change. Therefore, some scholars have started to use the term ‘multiple modernities’.

Studying how multiple modernities relate to each other allows us to see interconnections. Popular culture, for example, isn’t only about entertainment: it can generate ideas, or mobilise (young) people for political causes.

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European Culture and Politics

University of Groningen

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