Marco Martiniello

The text deals with the issue of the uses of images of cultural difference and specificity in the so-called "communitarian conflict" in Belgium. More generally, it adresses the issue of the complex relation between political identities and culture as well as the meaning of these two notions in the processes of political construction of ethnicity and of the nation. Five points are developed. Firstly, the long history of the "communitarian conflict" is reminded. Secondly, it is shown that images of cultural and identity specificity have always been politically exploited in this conflict. Thirdly, the hypothesis according to wich the federalisation process of the State has revealed a deep change in the shape of the "communitarian conflict" is presented. Fourthly , it is shown that the identity and cultural items politically used in the conflict are not the same whether groups are engaged in ethnicity politics or nationalist politics. Provisional conclusions about the future of Belgium are drawn in fifth point

Emilie René

The concept of "world community" is nowadays very commonly employed by researchers dealing with the social aspects of globalization. At the same time, the words "islam" and "umma" -be they used by medias, politicians or scholars- have sometimes assumed the existence of such a community which is supposed to link all Muslims wherever they live. This kind of approach was strongly revived during the "Rushdie affair": the transnational dimension of the protest against the writer and the very content of ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa furthered it.The starting point of this paper is to take the "world community" postulate at its word. What are we talking about ? Who speaks about it ? Under what circumstances and from which places ? How the limits of this concept can be established, or rather how can it be constructed by the observer to become useful ? These questions are addressed by examining the early stage of the anti-Rushdie protest in its worldwide dimension. It is suggested that an analysis of the understandings and strategies of the mobilized groups, of their symbolic and concrete transnational interactions, as well as a comparison between the social and political national contexts, help to identify the "interpretive community" which was formed at this juncture.

Bennetta Jules-Rosette et Denis-Constant Martin

Popular culture is a terrain on which social identity and collective representations are forged. Recently, scholars in the areas of anthropology, cultural studies, political science, and literature have approached the social and political implications of popular culture from contrasting perspectives. These approaches have opened up a number of important questions and debates. Is popular culture a product of resistance or a source of escape? Are the mixtures, fusions, and combinations that characterize popular culture today emblems of identity, signs of an inevitable process of globalization, or by-products of complex processes drawing upon the dialectics of universalization and discourses of contestation ? This paper addresses these questions by examining theories of the production, reception, and consumption of popular culture in comparative perspective. It explores the structures of signification that arise in the transmission of popular culture and the complexities and ambivalences involved in the cycle of communication. Popular culture is analyzed as a permeable system of significations based on memory, and providing material for the construction and expression of collective identity, and contrasting attitudes towards power. An overview of recent theoretical and methodological developments is followed by a comparative analysis of data drawn from popular art and music in Africa, the Antilles, Europe, India, Latin America, and the Unites States. In conclusion, new theoretical directions are suggested in order to reassess the implications of empirical studies in the field.