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Evaluating Culture: World Music and Fusion Food

The problem of how to adapt criteria of evaluation to stylistic change will always be with us. Our current era of multiculturalism, postmodernism and globalism, however, confounds the problem almost beyond recognition. Multiculturalism, an heir of cultural relativism, asks us to withhold our evaluation, insisting that all cultures and subcultures deserve to be analyzed only from within themselves, postmodernism has virtually embraced dissonances and incoherence, while globalism promotes a mix-and-match of elements from a medley of cultures. Is there any basis for universal criteria of evaluation? How do/can critics cope? Examples are drawn from ‘world music’, foreign films, and changing fashions in food.