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Monday, October 27, 2003

"There she is...Miss Afghanistan"

Last week, I blogged about the cultural diversity treaty that is in the works. The PC argument is that local artists, writers, and other creative people around the world are marginalized by the "Americanization" (and westernization) of global culture. It is a serious concern to Canada, and to the French, among many others.

The more worrisome possibility is that Americanization helps provoke the so-called "clash of civilizations." I invoked that phrase, for example, when discussing the global spread of General Boykin's anti-Muslim words.

Basically, the globalization of western/US culture often means, in practice, that ideas and images are diffused to people who find them shocking, amoral and dangerous. Backlash against westernization has perhaps contributed to internal revolt and terrorism -- in places like Iran, for example.

Today, I ran across a link to this brief story about an Afghan woman's participation in the Miss Earth beauty pageant in the Philippines. I'm going to quote several paragraphs from the story, though I'm also leaving some out:
Miss Afghanistan Vida Samadzai prompted gasps from the crowd as she strutted down the catwalk in a sexy red bikini...

"The way she appeared is not in our Afghan culture nor is endorsed by Islam," said Habiba Surabi, women's affairs minister...

It is the first time in 30 years that an Afghan woman has taken part in a beauty show.

The slim and dark-haired Samadzai was born and raised in Afghanistan, but left for the United States in 1996 to escape the civil war.
The story includes a photo that would not look out of place in most western media. Actually, the Hindustan Times had a much bigger photo -- but that linked was removed so here it is from yahoo.

By the way, I know some blogs (like public opinion) have photos, but my service apparently doesn't allow them.

This story is odd on many levels. The Afghan woman has clearly been westernized by living in the US for 7 years, but the Afghans quoted in the story are just as clearly shocked. The second photo in the story is of a woman in a burqa, described as a full length body blanket. It certainly makes for a clashing set of images.

I'm guessing that this is just one more relatively small slight, but it makes interesting food for thought.

Update: Afghan Voice has a link to a photo of the Afghan contestant in more traditional garb.

Note to readers: Send me an email if you would prefer I switch to some kind of blog hosting arrangement that allows comments. I cannot figure it out on my current blogspot account. Perhaps it is part of the for-pay package?

Since I do not receive that much email, perhaps comments are unnecessary? Big blogs get lots of comments, but I often see blogs with few. Hmmm.

Now that I have your attention: I also cannot figure out how to make my RSS feed work correctly. Any simple technical assistance on that would be appreciated.

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