Nowadays, discussions about multiculturalism are at a crucial stage and the concept is spread throughout different spheres of our lives: science, society, education and politics. However, what does it mean to be a multicultural person in a diverse society? How can we be so sure that we are multicultural people? What criteria exist? Some sociologists suggest that “the multicultural person is intellectually and emotionally committed to the basic unity of all human beings while at the same time recognizing, legitimizing, accepting, and appreciating the differences that exist between people of different cultures” (Adler, 2002). Then, what is the way to “appreciate the differences” if we do not know what are they about? For these reasons, we like travelling but it is not possible to visit all countries in a short period of time. Therefore, the obvious decision for coming closer to another culture without travelling is to familiarise with the works of art of a particular country.
Today we would like to talk about people, for whom their acquaintance with other cultures started with their armchair and bookshelf, aiming to read at least one book from every country. In this Week’s Video Fix, we will have a look at Ann Morgan’s experience in “reading the world,” discussing her challenges and findings during this project.
Perceiving herself as a well-educated and broad-minded person, while also working as a writer and editor, one day she realised that her bookshelf contained only British and North-American writers. This motivated her to think about openness and understanding of other cultures all over the world. Then she aimed to cover her ‘cultural blind spot’ by reading one book from every country in the world during one year.
Additionally, the same literature trip was already taken by another writer, John R. Brookes, who has been on his “global journey through literature” for more than 8 years. He has reached around 270 destinations, mapping several districts in one country (Brookes, n.d.).
As a result, both travellers have found a lot of cultural differences and similarities, which became the basis of their own books, where the authors share their experience of travelling the world through books.
Interestingly, the realization of such a simple and positive idea raised different challenges. One of them was the problem of translation. In fact, literature works of some small counties have never been published or even translated into English or other worldwide languages. Besides, sometimes it could be a challenge to find a translated version of a book from Asian or African countries.
How can we fill our bookshelves with books from other countries? How many countries do you visit in an armchair through books? How do you learn about other cultures?
You might also be interested in some of our previous posts:
- Untranslatable words: a magic multicultural experience.
- The Movida Madrileña in the literature of Pedro Almodóvar translated into Brazilian Portuguese
- Solution for a multicultural Europe: video remote interpreting
- Video Fix: Where are you from?
Written by Elena Sychkova, Study visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit and a student of the Master programme in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. Elena has a Master’s degree in the Russian language and Literature, and Bachelor’s degree in English Philology.
Proofread by Pedro Ramos – Translator, Social Media and Content Manager, Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg).
- Adler, P. (2002). Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism. Available at: http://bit.ly/1MM6h9a (Accessed 21 August 2017)
- Brookes, J.R. (n.d.) Reading the world. Available at: http://bit.ly/2vUqzhg (Accessed 21 August 2017)
- Morgan, A. (n.d.). A year of reading the world. Available at: http://bit.ly/2kmk66w (Accessed 21 August 2017)
- TED. (2015). Ann Morgan: My year reading a book from every country in the world [Video file]. Available at: http://bit.ly/2xo4823 (Accessed 21 August 2017)