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Melissa Chiu, Museum Director and Curator for Contemporary Asian and Asian-American art at the Asia Society, has had a long involvement with Asian contemporary art and is recognized as a[…]

Can people of different cultures coexist?

Topic: Tolerance and Cultural Sensitivity

Melissa Chiu: I think that if I were to say anything about the way that I see the world, I think that one of the most important elements to remember is cultural sensitivity. That when we deal with . . . when we have relationships with other people in other parts of the world, I think that we can never assume that what we think we're communicating is in fact how they see it; but I think that that's what I've learned from living in different places around the world and also being, I guess, bicultural. Being bicultural, I think that that's the one thing that has influenced all of the work that I do.  Another perhaps even greater issue is an issue of cultural difference that we see played out in religious differences. And we have seen it most recently in London. I think it’s also an issue of course here for the United States, and it’s dealt with very differently in different places. But I think that the way the communities, societies, and nations are able to deal in a sophisticated way with cultural difference, most societies today are much . . . contain much . . . many more different kinds of communities. There are very few places in the world that are ________ today. And so I think in the future, our ways of dealing with different cultures in our society will have a great impact on our . . . great impact on peace, for example, and a great impact on the quality of life.  I think that some societies have dealt better with it than others. Some have been addressed through government policies. I think that there are . . . there are some policies that are . . . that are more successful than others. And one of the major issues is always about integration. That for . . . for individuals to feel like they are part of the society in which they reside, they have an owner . . . an ownership or a say in the way that that society is owned and governed is probably the most important issue. And I think that that’s when people become . . . When it doesn’t happen, that’s when people and groups and communities become disenfranchised. And I think that that’s when we see great social unrest and other sorts of issues that come from that.


Recorded on: 7/11/07




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