What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cultures and calendars

I went to a conference today where the participants threw in all day long their otherwise intriguing ideas/reflections about globalisation and cultural reactions to it. Fine. I was listening to some of it as I listen to music sometimes. It brought up my own thoughts in me in association to all sorts of things. One theme that kept coming back was how "civilisations" have different conceptions of time and space. One speaker used the example of Chechens vs. Russians, saying that for Chechens the immediately relevant past goes back up to 8 generations, whereas for Russians it is a much more recent thing, not reaching back so far. Whatever - of course one should not overessentialise cultures, and definitely one should not overgeneralise conclusions of this kind, reached by often dubious methods by the sources the speaker may have relied on. But it reminded me of one very basic difference between Afghans and outsiders. It can be illustrated in the easiest way the following way:
1979 = 1399/1400 = 1357/1358
That is what the year 1979 of the Gregorian calendar corresponds to in the Islamic calendar (firstly) and in the Iranian, otherwise also "Islamic," calendar (secondly) which was used in Afghanistan since 1957, except for the Taliban's times...
Wait. Even that above is too Euro-centric a way of putting it. Why not put it this way, for example:
1400 = 1979/1980
People using such different calendars certainly are not necessarily in sync. 1979 is more of a turning point for some, 2000 is more of a turning point for others. It is no turning point for yet others... That is profound indeed.
That's it for today, but I hope to get back to posting with a bit more regularity, once my current workload is reduced somewhat.

1 comment:

iago18335 said...

Interesting. I remember while at university a professor telling me that Russians are different from Americans in that events and conflicts that occurred centuries ago were immediately relevant to them while we (Americans) had a much shorter view of history and it's relevance to current issues.