Accepted Paper:

The UNESCO doctrine of cultural and genetic diversity of humankind, from the aftermath of the Second World War until today  

Author:

Wiktor Stoczkowski (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)

Paper short abstract:

I will reconstruct the post-war creation and subsequent transformations of the UNESCO doctrine of genetic and cultural diversity of humans. This analysis is aimed at a better understanding of interactions between the UNESCO doxa and our vernacular and/or scholarly representations of human diversity.

Paper long abstract:

Nowadays, the issue of cultural diversity seems to be separate entirely from the problem of genetic diversity of humans. However, both question were frequently tackled together during the XXth century. This was the case in the aftermath of the Second World War. Created by the victorious Allies, UNESCO attempted to propose a doctrine able to explain the genetic and cultural diversity of humankind. The purpose was twofold: to undermine the Nazi doctrine of racial inequality and to establish the basis of an international cooperation between societies divided by deep cultural differences.

This doctrine materialized in a series of official UNESCO statements. It understated the genetic diversity of humankind and focused on cultural diversity, a part of which had to be protected, whereas some others parts were destined to disappear thanks to UNESCO educational action launched in order to build a global civilisation of peace.

Half a century later, the context is radically different. On the one hand, the idea of genetic diversity of humans has been anew legitimized by recent researches in human genomics. On the other hand, cultural unification lost its positive connotation, commonly perceived as a threat to the right of the people to protect their "ancestral traditions", henceforth likened to a precious legacy.

I will reconstruct the post-war creation and subsequent transformations of the UNESCO doctrine of genetic and cultural diversity of humans. This reconstruction is aimed at a better understanding of interactions between the UNESCO doxa and our vernacular and/or scholarly representations of human diversity.

Panel Plen2
The uses of diversity