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Intercultural
Lexicon

The Kurds

An ethnic and linguistic minority in the Near East, the Kurds now live divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, in a region unofficially known as Kurdistan, where they have always been the object of persecution and oppression.

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Cosmopolitism

It is the philosophical and political concept that extends the ideas of citizenship and homeland to the whole world and to all humankind, opposing the particularity of nations and national states.

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Constitution

Constitution is a key category, one of the most important, of modern political and legal theory.

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Genocide

The word genocide is nowadays used in a number of different ways and one must to try and analyse them separately, to the extent that this is possible.

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Islamism

Islamism is a highly militant mobilizing ideology selectively developed out of Islam’s scriptures, texts, legends, historical precedents, organizational experiences and present-day grievances, all as a defensive reaction against the long-term erosion of Islam’s primacy over the public...

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Reset
A month of ideas.
Giancarlo Bosetti Editor-in-chief
Association for dialogue and intercultural understanding
Intercultural Lexicon
IT Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Mestizo

Following the conquest of the Americas, the word “mestizo” was used to indicate children born of parents belonging to different races, usually and an American Indian woman and a white man (or vice versa). Coming from the Latin mixticius (mixed), the word is also used for animals to indicate a lack of pure breeding.


In recent years, also thanks to the increased spreading of globalisation and emigration, the word has become a powerful part of the sociological and political debate, in which it is used also in a derogatory manner to indicate an impure and ethnic and culturally mixed society. Hence its derogative meaning has been emphasised, although in other places (see for example Mexico) it is an expression of pride.

Meticciato is the choice to become linked to a plurality of cultures, claiming the legacy of various worlds. “There exists a mestizo fabric, at least from a cultural point of view, embracing our societies – wrote Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio – not the hegemony of one civilisation, but of many cultural universes, as well as an infinite number of mestizo areas, overlapping one with multiple ascendants. This is Europe’s reality both internally and in relation to other worlds, such as the African one. Beyond the rigidity of identity, one of discovers a mestizo element and hybridising, a ‘creolising’ of past and distant history”.

The Mexican priest Virgilio Elizondo, listed in “Time” magazine among the Innovators of the century that has just begun, wrote enthusiastically about it in his book entitled L’avenir est au métissage (using an expression by the former French President Charles de Gaulle). The poet Octavio Paz, in his Labyrinth of solitude, wrote that the labyrinth of the mestizo, was in the end, “that of all men”. According to the theologian Jacques Audinet “history conjugates the differences, history is mestizo, it progresses only with the mestizo”. There is even explicit talk of “a mestizo school of thought”, to indicate a way of seeing the world that does not annul differences, but on the contrary thrives on them.

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