In the transnational global world we are inhabiting the manipulation of local politics is reaching such levels that public opinion seems somehow pushed backwards. In contrast, lessons taught by the late Ugo Fabietti, a pioneering italian anthropologist, unfolded how cultures are hybrids, continuously changing and transforming themselves showing that principles of curiousity and mixing are more typical of human behaviour than what we are drawn to believe.
Cultures aggregate and recreate meanings that circulate in everyday lives and mediated worlds, defining and redefining themselves in an ever ongoing process. Nothing is fixed, nothing is pure: cultures follow crossbred logics and inviduals elaborate their own ways to adapt to the environment. This is how Fabietti explains “hybrid cultures” and “cross-bred thinking” in his essay “From Tribal toGlobal”(2000):
“Hybrid cultures are the new syntheses, the new profiles, the new landscapes that characterize the contemporary world from a socio-cultural perspective. They are the world’s syntheses, profiles, and landscapes that stem from an encounter – a more and more intense encounter of individuals and groups with different stories, memories, understandings, and identities, anchored in experiential and conceptual premises that are often far apart from each other.
On the empirical level, cultures have been ‘hybrid’ all along. At least, anything that constitutes the world of our shared experiences, both pragmatic and symbolic, is always the outcome of encounters, of different mentalities and contributions, of oblivions and reminiscences that draw from culturally diverse experiences. Such contributions, encounters, and oblivions depend upon, in the first place and by their very own nature, the way in which cultures combine with one another following specific power dynamics. Today, they have acquired a much higher frequency and intensity compared to the past – even the most recent one.
As a result, from an empirical perspective, the expression ‘hybrid cultures’ is a way of expressing what takes place in the world – a metaphor for the intensity and frequency that characterize the encounter of different cultures in the contemporary world.”
Fabietti’s conclusion is that anthropologists research the complex logics that cultures are made up of; they analyze their structures, alterations, and influences; and they trace their genealogies. Given the global ecumene as contemporary man’s main habitat, they are the ones who look at boundaries and frontiers and observe the interlacing and the crossing of traits and people that characterize our times.
Such interlacing and crossing is simply faster than iy was in the past. “Cultural trafficking” has always been part of our history: goods, ideas, people have always been moving from one end to another of the planet.
For these reasons, and in order to start unpacking the power of contemporary political rhetoric based on a somewhat silent assumption of “original” or “pure” culture, we think it’s really important to remember that moving around, being curious, blending creative solutions is entirely typical of all human beings. And it has been like this for a while back.