The Future of Knowledge and Culture by Ashis Nandy, Vinay Lal
The twentieth century was for the most part an unfolding of the nineteenth, but the twenty-first century is a time of open-ended transition. This remarkable book attempts to provide a cartography of the contemporary global framework of knowledge and culture that can tell us where we’ve arrived in the new millennium, and where we are headed. It is organized around some of the ideas, products and practices that constitute everyday life.
The Future of Knowledge and Culture is a dictionary that defies the grid of conventionality. It invites the reader to debate and exchange ideas with some of the most daring thinkers in the world—from Gustavo Esteva, the scholar-activist associated with the Zapatistas, writing on grass roots, to Ziauddin Sardar, historian of science and Islamic scholar, exploring the Internet; from Douglas Lummis, radically rethinking existing definitions of democracy, to Manu Kothari and Lopa Mehta, taking on modern medical wisdom to celebrate the wisdom of the body, and Majid Rahnema, who stands the conventional idea of poverty on its head.
Nothing is beyond the scope of this dictionary. From weapons of mass destruction to plague, sacred groves to the philosophy of Coca-Cola, spin doctors to maps, Bollywood to coronary bypass, the sixty-five entries seem to cover only a cross-section of life, but their concern is nothing less than altering an entire way of thinking that has become ingrained in us, thanks to our education, upbringing, lazy habits of thought and fear of scepticism. This book challenges us to rethink the world of the urban, middle-class certainties, suggesting that an open spirit and the ability to live in multiple, often contradictory worlds may be the key to our survival in the new century.
Vinay Lal is associate professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles. His most recent works are Empire of Knowledge: Culture and Plurality in the Global Economy (Pluto Press, 2002), Of Cricket, Gandhi, and Guinness: Essays in Indian History and Culture (Seagull Press, 2002) and (edited) Dissenting Knowledges, Open Futures: The Multiple Selves and Strange Destinations of Ashis Nandy (Oxford, 2000).