Sunday, September 1, 2019
Cross-cultural interaction Essay
Introduction Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã The peripatetic traveler is the quintessential image of a globalised man. TodayÃ¢â¬â¢s traveler is driven by the commercial forces of globalization and improved communications in the World which has seen travel and tourism grow as an industry. In the ancient and medieval ages however, when traveling was not that simple and safe, a few adventurists quite literally walked across the globe or what ever was known of it then. These were men as Benjamin of Tudela, Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta, who covered vast spaces compared to capacity of transportation in the era in which they lived and have left rich sources of history documented in their travels. There is much debate over the relevance of the jottings made by these travelers to modern day history. Sceptics tend to question the authenticity and objectiveness as well as ability to portray a correct picture of a cross cultural interaction which these travelers tend to pursue from their own perspective. Travel literature has substantial relevance in providing authentic information of cross cultural interaction, the cross cultural trends, a perception of cross cultural association between people and is proving to be a good source of authentic and endearing history today as it provides a perspective in todayÃ¢â¬â¢s world through an understanding of medieval religion and cultures. Information of cross-cultural interaction Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã The ancient and medieval times were denoted by lack of developed communications and modes of interaction for travel. There were also very limited historical recordings and what ever existed was at the behest of the ruling cliques, thereby making it biased. The historian today is left with primary records which are substantiated by such travelogues for a dispassionate view of cross cultural interaction. Thus travelogues do serve as important benchmark documents for historical purpose. This would be evident from recounting of travels through the Middle East during the medieval period in the writings of Benjamin of Tuleda, which tends to support the various historical happenings during the period by sources from both sides of the Islam and Christian divide. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Travelers as Benjamin who was a Jew could also benefit from interaction with those of his community who were spread across the region. Since the Jews were relatively unbiased during the period of the Crusades, their observations supplanted the travelers own perception providing further substance to the history of the region. While some may consider it as not the purest form of notation, in denoting cross cultural trends it could be considered more than appropriate and accurate. The excessive focus on the state of the Jews in BenjaminÃ¢â¬â¢s writing however to some extent indicates that the view of culture is primarily from an overly Semitic perspective of a Rabbi and authenticity is probably sacrificed but then a deeper reading would overcome this perception. BattutaÃ¢â¬â¢s writings span a much large cross cultural area extending from Jerusalem, Damascus, Syria, and East Africa while Marco PoloÃ¢â¬â¢s travelogues are also very genuine impressions of cross cultural trends. Each of the chapters he writes covers the various aspects of a particularly community that he has observed be it the cropping pattern, food habits and the monarchical way of governance. Marco very assiduously provides an overview of each facet in great detail. Perceptive Observers Providing Authenticity Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã The intention of the travelers in their journey was multi focal. Thus some such as Benjamin did it for the purpose of seeking opportunities of trade or to find out about the state of personnel of his own community residing in various parts of the Middle East after being persecuted in their native lands. The meticulous recording of ethnographic details in his writing provides very insightful observations on cross cultural trends which highlights the capacity of its originator. Thus we find in BenjaminÃ¢â¬â¢s writings the details of how and when the Egyptian monarch travels, what are the proclivities of the people during various periods and the rivalries that existed even in those time between Cairo and Baghdad. It is also relevant to see that a person traveling beyond his immediate geographical and cultural setting would also be keen to obtain fresh insights into the lives of other communities. Thus observations of Marco Polo need to be taken note off with greater acceptance of the fidelity. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã The meticulous logging of the timings in terms of a virtual daily log provides an excellent record of the period, the state of development, the manner in which communities lived and the state of their culture in vivid details. Ibn Battuta who was overwhelmed by the need to travel and thus sets out from his native place at the tender age of 22 years, is also a very keen observer and thus his recordings attain a high quality of relevance particularly in the cross cultural context. His descriptive writings on Cairo or Alexandria are very perceptive providing an innate understanding of the era. The description of events, the handling of camels, the holding of ceremonies all are very effectively portrayed by the traveler, giving a good understanding of the period. The meticulous recording of customs such as movement of women naked in some societies as in Mali and cannibalism are stark etchings on the history of a cross cultural trend. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Marco Polo again has providedÃ a wealth of material on cross cultural trends which denotes an excellent eye for detail and power of observation across a large expanse of area from Europe to China, Tibet to India and other areas. The burning of, Ã¢â¬Å"black stonesÃ¢â¬ , is perhaps a recorded intervention by Marco, which indicates the level and depth of his observations. MarcoÃ¢â¬â¢s observation are supplemented by a comparison between various cultures be it Chinese, Middle Eastern or Central Asian traditions of Bokhara. This provides a deep insight into cultural happenings of the era. Perspective of Modern Day Understanding Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Today Islam and the West appear to be undergoing a serious crisis, some view it as a clash of civilization matching. There is very limited understanding of each others religions, traditions, culture and ideological basis. This is truly surprising given the proliferation of modern knowledge. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã It is the writings of travelers as Benjamin of Tudela who traversed the Middle East in the 12th Century which provides us a deeper understanding of the roots of this civilizational divide thereby enhancing our understanding of happenings in todayÃ¢â¬â¢s World. Being a Rabbi from Spain, Benjamin was relatively detached to enable a more objective assessment of the conflict which was occurring between Islam and Christianity in the medieval ages. His tour of the principal areas of the Middle East as well as Europe and Asia provided a fresh insight not just into the period but also the cross cultural linkages between these areas over the ages. The peace and prosperity in Egypt described so authentically by Benjamin provide an excellent insight in the functioning of well governed medieval states. The clash between Saladin and the Christians and the moves and counter moves of the period have been very vividly portrayed by Benjamin denoting how Islam was revived between the period of the Second and the Third Crusades. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Today when we see a similar up rise in Islam which is spearheaded not by the likes of Saladin, but terrorist leaders as Osama Bin Laden, BenjaminÃ¢â¬â¢s travels can provide a better counter cultural perspective. A similar understanding of the culture of the Middle East is provided in the writings of Ibn Battuta which can provide us a perspective from an Islamic travelerÃ¢â¬â¢s point of view in a different age over three centuries apart and covering some of the same areas. In each of the places that he visits Battuta makes mention of specifics which indicate a keen eye for detail. It is natural that a person with a good view of the details will remain also particular of the accuracy of his writings. Thus enhancing their historical value. The writings provide a cross cultural dimension of the transformation that has take place in these areas over these years. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã MarcoÃ¢â¬â¢s writings on Tibet are another issue which enables us to correlate between the state and relations of Tibet between the modern and the medieval periods. The fascination which the Chinese felt for Tibet even then is evident as Marco observes their repeated forays to gain hold of territory which they see as a great expanse with its many provinces, the customs of the people, their mastiffs and bamboo cropping are thus set to be matching. Conclusion Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Thus it would be seen that the travelogues of Marco Polo, Ibn Batttuta and Benjamin of Tudela are important documents as they provide authentic information of cross cultural interaction, denote cross cultural trends, enhance the perception of cross cultural association between people and prove good sources of authentic and endearing history, thereby providing better modern day understanding and background of medieval religion and cultures as in the Middle East. Ã Ã References Marco Polo and Rustichello of Pisa. 2004. The Travels of Marco Polo, Volume 1 and 2. E-text prepared by Charles Franks, Robert Connal, John Williams, and Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10636/10636-8.txt (VOLUME I). http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12410/12410-8.txt (VOLUME II). (20 November 2006) Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354. Nd. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/1354-ibnbattuta.html (20 November 2006) The itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela. 1907. Philipp Feldheim, inc The house of the Jewish book. New York. gutenberg.org/files/14981/14981-h/14981-h.htm. (20 November 2006).