Cultural imperialism  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Cultural imperialism is the practice of promoting, distinguishing, separating, or artificially injecting the culture or language of one nation into another. It is usually the case that the former is a large, economically or militarily powerful nation and the latter is a smaller, less affluent one. However this has not been always the case, recently there has been controversy over plans for a 'Mega Mosque' built in London by 2012 which would become the largest religious structure in the UK. Cultural imperialism can take the form of an active, formal policy or a general attitude. The term is usually used in a pejorative sense, usually in conjunction with a call to reject foreign influence.

Empires throughout history have been established using war and physical compulsion (military imperialism). In the long term, populations have tended to be absorbed into the dominant culture, or acquire its attributes indirectly.

Cultural imperialism is a form of cultural influence distinguished from other forms by the use of force, such as military or economic force. Cultural influence is a process that goes on at all times between all cultures that have contact with each other. For instance, African musical traditions influenced African American music, which in turn influenced American popular music — but cultural imperialism has nothing to do with that transmission. Similarly, the rise in the popularity of Yoga (from India) in Western nations has never relied on any kind of force. Similarly, people from poorer or less powerful states, nations and cultures often freely adapt cultural practices and artifacts from more powerful, wealthier societies without any force necessarily being applied. When people freely adopt cultural artifacts and practices of other cultures the use of the pejorative phrase "cultural imperialism" becomes problematic. When force is absent from cultural influence, use of the term "cultural imperialism" can easily become a debating tactic involving latent bigotry, xenophobia and nationalism — emotional responses to cultural influence that are also present to some degree at all times between all cultures that have contact with each other.

Cultural Imperialism is also very different from other imperialistic ways, in the sense that no military or economic intervention is needed to be able to influence countries. When this is the case, the user of the term may need to be prepared to justify why this pejorative term is used rather than the more neutral "cultural influence" or even "cultural dominance", or run the risk of using empty rhetoric or worse, malicious demagoguery, rather than making a substantive point.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cultural imperialism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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