In a presentation at Valparaiso University, Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Richard A. Shweder will examine the challenge of accurately representing the cultural practices of minority groups, with special reference to two topics that have produced moral anxiety among mainstream populations in Europe and the United States.
"Engaging Cultural Differences Without Moral Panic: The Burqa and ‘FGM,' " is at 6:30 tonight in the Christ College Refectory in Mueller Hall on the Valparaiso University campus. It is part of the Christ College Symposium, presented by the University's honors college. The presentation is free and open to the campus community and the general public.
Shweder will show a brief documentary on female initiation in Sierra Leone, produced by a West African American seeking to understand her own tradition of female genital modification, or FGM. The film will help address the problem of too readily identifying others' cultural practices as barbaric or backward.
Shweder is a cultural anthropologist and the William Claude Reavis Distinguished Service Professor of Human Development at the University of Chicago. He is the author of "Thinking Through Cultures" and "Why Do Men Barbecue? Recipes for Cultural Psychology"; the editor or coeditor of "Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self and Emotion"; "Metatheory in Social Science; Ethnography and Human Development"; and "Welcome to Middle Age! (And Other Cultural Fictions)"; and the editor-in-chief of "The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion." He also is the coeditor of two books that examine the scopes and limits of robust cultural pluralism, "Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies" and "Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference."