Richard Shweder on Robust Cultural Pluralism in the New World Order: Three Prophecies

All day


What will be the fate of cultural differences in a globalizing world?   Is it possible to be robust cultural pluralist and a dedicated political liberal at the same time?   Where do cultural anthropologists stand in debates about the future shape of a New World Order? November 9, 1989 is the day the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and the Cold War balance of power shifted dramatically in favor of the United States.  If you had kept your ear to the ground in the United States in those heady days you would have repeatedly heard one particular kind of prophecy about the shape of the New World Order that was expected to emerge to replace the old tripartite “First World” (capitalist world)/”Second World” (communist world)/“Third World” (underdeveloped world) classification of nations and states.  It was a prophecy premised on an expansive view of globalization, the attenuation of cultural differences and the anticipation of the “end of history” and the universal adoption of the “Western way of life.”   This lecture proved to be a descriptive and critical engagement with that and other visions of the emerging New World Order.


Richard A. Shweder is a cultural anthropologist and the William Claude Reavis Distinguished Service Professor of Human Development in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago.  He received his Ph.D. degree in social anthropology in the Department of Social Relations at Harvard University in 1972, taught a year at the University of Nairobi in Kenya and has been at the University of Chicago ever since.


The following video recording of Richard Shweder’s talk held at the Center in Beijing, along with many other videos of University of Chicago events, can be found at

This event was a collaboration between Beijing Foreign Studies University and the University of Chicago Center in Beijing.