The concepts of diversity and inclusion have great cultural power in American society right now. Among their proponents, however, there is a failure to recognize these concepts as part of a paradigm indelibly intertwined with American culture and history. While many academics have been longstanding critics of American imperialism, both past and present, many contemporary anthropologists fail to recognize the imperial footprint of the ideas and values that course through that paradigm’s uniquely Americanist premises. This essay examines the historical source of this diversity paradigm and seeks to describe its imperialist practices, specifically through an analysis of the export of the social prism that distills these premises to the wealthy Arab state of Qatar and the narratives woven into its new slavery museum.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is a collection of small islands just off the east coast of Saudi Arabia. Although geographically of little note, the islands are remarkable for numerous reasons. They make a cameo appearance in the Epic of Gilgamesh—perhaps the oldest of human poems. Subsequent Grecian seafarers mention the islands in various texts: throughout prehistory, Bahrain was a vital port and regional trading post. Merchants flocked there for the rich pearl fishery on which the islands’ economy depended. Captains came to resupply their vessels: fresh water bubbled from the ground in various places, and the agricultural villages scattered about allowed ships to replenish their food supplies before continuing onward.
Oil was first discovered and exploited in Bahrain. For much of the twentieth century, Bahrain was the seat of the British colonial apparatus in the Persian Gulf. These two facts are, of course, related. However, the British were not the first outsiders to seek to control the islands. The history of Bahrain consists of successive waves of outsiders, all seeking to govern the islands, their peoples and resources. Although the Ottomans, Portuguese, Persians from across the Gulf, and various tribes from the Arabian mainland all preceded the British, it’s the British who are thought to have left the most lasting mark.
The British were present in the Persian Gulf in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but it wasn’t until the earliest decades of the twentieth century that their power over the islands was consolidated. The story is complex, but, essentially, the British established co-sovereignty with the local Bahraini ruler. This co-sovereignty produced dual systems of taxation, bifurcated courts, dual coercive bodies, overlapping religious institutions and a variety of other parallel institutions of governance. Implementing this dual system required categorizing the resident population into local and foreign subjects, an odd permutation of the usual desire for legibility and simplification that preface emergent nationalisms, as described by James Scott in Seeing Like a State. With a mobile, transitory, ethnically heterogeneous and religiously diverse population accumulated over millennia of interactions with the peoples of the Indian Ocean and beyond, the task of distinguishing foreigners from locals was far from straightforward. To address this jurisdictional complexity and establish which set of laws applied to whom, the British relied on the insights of a handful of travelers and colonial agents and a miscellaneous assortment of emissaries, all of whom had only the most superficial grasp of the local cultural terrain.
The Britishers’ superficial grasp of Bahrain’s social terrain is the starting point of Omar AlShehabi’s illuminating paper on the legacy of their imperial presence. In that paper (and in his book Contested Modernity), AlShehabi demonstrates that the British foregrounded a particular set of social cleavages in the diverse population that resided on the islands more than a century ago. Foremost amongst these was the sectarian divide between the Sunni and Shi’a portions of the Bahraini population. In addition to that fundamental sectarian bifurcation, the British demarcated various ethnic groupings—the Huwala (Sunni Persians who claim Arab ancestry), the tribes (Arabs of tribal origin from the Saudi mainland), the Baharna (Shia Muslims of Arab ethnic origin from Bahrain and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia), and so forth. AlShehabi contends that the British ethnosectarian gaze was largely oblivious to the social fabric that preceded their arrival, that the resulting imposition of that ethnosectarian gaze extinguished various solidarities that traversed these cleavages, and more profoundly, that the “epistemic units for analysing local actors” purveyed by the British and calcified in policy a century ago remain the fundamental units by which the Bahraini population is comprehended by outsiders, and by which Bahrainis themselves understand each other and how they fit together in society.
For AlShehabi, the British colonial apparatus in Bahrain constructed a social prism that remains foundational to Bahraini society in the contemporary era. Over the course of the intervening century, this social prism reinforced—or manufactured—the very social categories and divisions that it initially purported to delineate and describe. The social prism through which Bahrainis see each other, and through which outsiders see Bahrain, is a durable and influential social construct.
My shift from AlShehabi’s ethnosectarian gaze to the concept of a social prism is a deliberate one. In doing so, I seek to deemphasize the colonial source of this particular ordering of human diversity, for it is an anthropological truism that culture is inherited, and that we are born into a world littered with cultural detritus mostly forged in circumstances different from those we encounter today. In Marx’s resonant phrasing, humans make their own history, but “not in conditions of their own making.” Instead, I seek to emphasize the durability of this particular social prism, the changing circumstances in which it thrived, and the various social actors who deployed (and continue to deploy) the epistemic units originally utilized by the British a century ago. Generally speaking, what I mean by a social prism is a paradigm, a discourse, an ideology, a collective perspective, a shared understanding—a framework by which we order and categorize the other humans in society.
This is somewhat familiar ground in anthropology. In 1934, anthropologist Ruth Benedict noted that, “No man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes. He sees it edited by a definite set of customs and institutions and ways of thinking.” That is how anthropologists generally think about culture. But by a social prism, I mean not simply the framework by which one “sees the world,” but how we humans arrange, organize and categorize the myriad other humans in our social world. Anthropologists have long been fascinated by groupings such as genders, moieties, age grades, age sets, clans and tribes, castes, ethnicities, sects and many more. With the concept of a social prism, I’m focused on these particular, inherited, and culturally-moored ways of organizing and grouping human difference. In cultural settings foreign to the observer, these social prisms are often strikingly obvious. Conversely, we’re often oblivious to the social prism we ourselves deploy. As Benedict notes, “it’s hard to be conscious of the eyes through which one looks.”
Just as a prism divides light into components, a social prism subdivides humanity. In Bahrain, this social prism underwrote the consolidation of social power in the hands of some Bahrainis at the expense of others. And this particular social prism is still influential a century after its implementation, as AlShehabi notes. In 2011, the kingdom was rocked like none of the other wealthy Gulf States by the social frictions conjured by the Arab Spring. The disenfranchised Shi’a majority took to the streets to protest the Sunni leadership and sectarian inequality. Those social frictions, suddenly visible to the world, were preceded by numerous episodes that escaped global attention, almost all of which followed a similar pattern: the disenfranchised Shi’a Baharna (whose ancestors were the island’s main agriculturalists) chafed under the rule of the minority tribal Sunni Bahrainis, who oppressed them throughout the twentieth century.
This social prism, then, has shaped how Bahrainis interact with one another, how social movements were organized in the past, how they are organized today, how Bahrainis understand one another, and with whom they affiliate. This social prism survived the collapse of the pearling economy and the subsequent penury of the early twentieth century. It persevered through the decades of British administration and the boom of the oil industry. It remained in place through independence and the florescence of pan-Arab nationalism in the 1970s. It endured in Bahrain’s increasing connection with the global system, and it remained a fixture amidst the islands’ tight political, economic and social ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This social prism, with its ethnosectarian bifurcation, is an enduring feature of Bahraini society today, and the categories it constructed are now a social reality. This process resembles what Kwame Anthony Appiah, in his book The Lies That Bind, refers to as the medusa syndrome: “what the state gazes upon, it tends to turn into stone. It sculpts what it purports to merely acknowledge.”
The American identitarian Left—the variety of progressivism now dominant on college campuses, in portions of leftist America, and in growing swathes of the American mediascape—promotes a distinct social prism. Many (if not all) of its proponents fail to grasp the fact that the identitarian paradigm is an American product. Blind to their ethnocentricity, and unaware of their own complicity in promoting this paradigm, these proponents are oblivious to the ways in which this prism has been imposed on culturally diverse peoples around the world. In the righteous guise of promoting diversity and inclusion, American social categories and divisions masquerade as universal social truths. The imposition of this social prism on other societies uses the conduits of imperial dominance that many of its most vociferous proponents have long critiqued. Indeed, the imperial dissemination of this American social prism and the ideological colonization of fertile intellectual traditions elsewhere in the world coincides with a clamor to decolonize various institutions in many wealthy societies.
The Diversity Paradigm
What if the way we perceive a problem is already part of the problem?—Slavoj Žižek
What I will here call the American diversity paradigm has also been referred to as the disorganized postmodernist religion of Social Justice, the bourgeois-identitarian left, and that loose-knit conglomeration of actors and ideas described elsewhere in this magazine as “most readily identifiable with identity politics and political correctness (along with the more recent buzzword concepts of equity, diversity and inclusion).” It is a multifaceted framework of ideas and activisms that coalesce around the vision of a more egalitarian social world. This paradigm suggests the value of certain aspects of our human differences, and compels us to see value in those different from ourselves. Its American version centers on ethnic difference, broadly and popularly conceptualized as race.
Over two decades, however, other sorts of difference have emerged as amenable to this paradigm’s social logic—differences of gender, religion, mental health or capacity, physical health or capacity, and body size and weight. Intersectionality analyzes how these various identities interact in a social logic with oppression at its core. This has facilitated the rise of what Campbell and Manning refer to as victimhood culture and, in academia, grievance studies departments that examine the victimhood of various groups. The ongoing delineation and extrapolation of these identity categories has become the principal activity of much American activism and is the defining purpose of contemporary Social Justice in America. These identitarian assertions of difference continue to fragment American society—a society previously constructed upon a sense of national belonging, which, for much of its lifespan, was more patriarchal, racist, heteronormative and hierarchical than most Americans find acceptable today. One of the proximate outcomes of the ascension of the diversity paradigm has been a sustained focus on the inclusion of previously marginalized groups, and simultaneously, a substantial extension of our understanding of the process and forces that marginalized these groups to begin with.
In his magisterial introduction to French philosopher Louis Althusser’s work, Frederic Jameson notes that, for Althusser, “ideology is institutional first and foremost and only later on to be considered a matter of consciousness.” The diversity paradigm’s institutional and legal manifestations exemplify Jameson’s claim. Some analyses estimate that the contemporary diversity industry has an $8 billion economic footprint. Maya Beasley has estimated that it is “worth $200 billion, at least $8 billion of which goes to diversity trainings.”
The institutional bastions of this expansive diversity industry are college campuses, like the one where I work. Entirely new administrative departments have been formed to serve this industry, providing a salaried foundation for the administrators and faculty who service this social prism. Disciples of the diversity paradigm shuttle between campuses, prospering in this new academic economy. Unlike scholars of yesteryear, the entrepreneurial stars of the diversity ecosystem are often represented by agencies, who help negotiate their speaking fees and positions. Like the sectarian identity entrepreneurs described by Toby Matthiesen in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, a busy legion of identity entrepreneurs has emerged in the institutional ecosystem fostered by the American diversity paradigm.
On these same campuses, hundreds of thousands of young adults, away from home for the first time in their lives, are immersed in classrooms where this paradigm is broadcasted, considered, constructed, discussed and extended. These same institutions have established grievance processes to adjudicate diversity-based complaints. Administrations and faculties seek to hire new colleagues who bring different life experiences to the campus. Via the exorbitant tuition rates at most private colleges in America, these institutions reroute broader capitalist inequalities in an attempt to diversify student populations along the identity categories established by this social prism. Although the resulting campuses better reflect some aspects of America’s evolving demography, they continue to strive to reflect the country’s demography ever more closely. These efforts purportedly enrich American campus culture, and universities compete to fulfill various related metrics. Figure three illustrates how these epistemic categories are constructed and reinforced by the institutional and administrative ecosystem of college campuses. Students are rapidly immersed in an institutionally codified epistemic system, which highlights their membership in (or absence from) the identity categories outlined in the diversity paradigm. These epistemic assertions are coupled with access to resources in the academic ecosystem (e.g. Figure 3), thereby assuring broad fealty to the epistemic categories and the social prism they comprise.
I am ambivalent about these developments. I’ve devoted my professional career to international social justice. I am particularly energized by the American populace’s expanding attention to the structural forces that generate inequality along socially constructed lines of what’s nowadays referred to as “intersectionality,” a concept deconstructed in Lindsay and Nayna’s recent piece “Postmodern Religion and the Faith of Social Justice.” I’m concerned, however, that the militant particularisms that result from contemporary American identity politics and our society’s ongoing social fragmentation may blind us to the capitalist forces that generate that inequality to begin with. Plus, we’re embroiled in arguments about identity as our planet’s atmosphere clouds with the toxic detritus of human activity, our oceans fill with trash, our environmental systems collapse and our global population continues to grow. As I tell my students, it seems we’ve stumbled into an angry debate about who’s entitled to the poshest cabins on a ship that’s damaged, taking on water, listing to starboard, and likely headed to a watery grave. Welcome aboard, young adults!
The Diversity Paradigm’s American Pedigree
The diversity paradigm was formed by American history and social relations. The influence of this American context is visible in multiple places.
The centrality of ethnicity—the socially constructed idea of race—is a product of American history and social relations. Euro-American settlers displaced most native peoples from their territories or, in some cases, sought to eradicate them altogether. Many of these settlers were connected to transnational, proto-capitalist networks of commerce and exchange, and some thereby tapped into the preexistent exchange of enslaved humans which, after the fall of Constantinople, consolidated extraction around the African continent. In order to build a plantation economy in parts of southern North America, some American settlers imported a veritable army of slaves to reinforce a fledgling agricultural economy. This settler and slave-owning society—which was to become the world’s richest democracy—periodically welcomed or prevented the flow of immigrants to America. Over two centuries, these events (and others) yielded the mosaic of ethnic difference that characterizes contemporary North American demography. Ethnic identity—and the grouping of various ethnicities into broader social constructions of race—is central to the diversity paradigm, and deeply intertwined with the American experience. Indeed, the paradigm not only reifies the socially constructed divisions of race, but actively combats perspectives that seek to deemphasize race.
This all took place within a constitutional democracy. The American constitution provides a recurring point of reference to which assertions concerning rights and entitlements are tied. And the fact that America is a democracy enabled those assertions to be made in the public sphere and to seek traction via populist sentiment. While some rights were limited or unavailable to many residents for various periods of American history, it was the possibilities presented by democracy in America — the possibility of national belonging, the idealization of equality, and governance for the people by the people — that fueled American social relations. This democratic context is integral to the history of the present American moment. It represents a necessary condition for the coalescence of the diversity paradigm in the contemporary era, and it connects that paradigm to the atomistic individualism that undergirds so much of the American experience. Reflecting that legacy, the diversity paradigm is suffused with a democratic and populist ethos. It would be hard to envision such a paradigm emerging under a communist system, a dictatorship, or a somewhat benevolent Arabian tribal-authoritarian system discussed in this essay. The social relations, circumstances and possibilities would have been very different in those cases.
The assimilationist philosophy that underpins American nationalism is another facet of the American particularism of the diversity paradigm. That assimiliationism is not unique to the United States. But the fundamental idea that people can become citizens by naturalization, rather than birth, differentiates America from many other contemporary nation-states. In neither Bahrain nor Qatar, for example, is this a possibility for almost any foreigner. In many nations, citizenship and belonging are dependent on ethnicity, ancestry or birth. The goal of integration and the value bestowed upon inclusion differentiate the diversity paradigm from the social contexts of many other contemporary nations, making it quintessentially American.
The centrality of blackness is another feature of the diversity paradigm’s American pedigree. The traumatic experiences of the non-migrant core of this American ethnic minority—formerly slaves, later emancipated, but structurally disadvantaged well into the contemporary era—are central to the paradigm. Other American ethnic groups (including both minority groups under-represented in academia, such as Latino-Americans, and those over-represented, such as Asian-Americans) are conceptualized as allies—a conceptualization which assets the centrality of African-Americans to the diversity paradigm against a backdrop of white ethnic dominance. These social relations have deep parallels in the handful of other settler societies, and some less precise parallels in the more numerous postcolonial societies, but are much less common in other parts of the globe. They mark the diversity paradigm as American. It’s difficult to imagine the diversity paradigm and its identitarian social politics having emerged in a more homogenous ethnic context, such as that of Japan, for example.
Individualism is central to the American ethos. It dovetails with the concept of identity at the core of the diversity paradigm. In American identitarian logic, rights and entitlements cohere to individuals. Identitarianism conjures a complicated and performative culture that reinforces this conceptualization of the individual, whereby her or his “project of the self” is the expression of essentialized, primordial qualities that all individuals purportedly possess. In the identitarian social field, social and historical wounds are conjured or bared in that performative culture’s therapeutic discourse. Simultaneously, the economic forces that generate structural inequality are largely dismissed as natural laws and therefore ignored. In short, identity politics is the contemporary manifestation of the longstanding American deification of the individual, and neglect of the collective and social aspects of human existence. To extend the observations made by Gibson-Graham more than a decade ago, the identitarian paradigm inhibits our capacity to imagine real, substantial change by viewing the most significant forces at work—the capitalist engines of inequality—as beyond the realm of human intervention.
In summary, the diversity paradigm is a social prism inextricably tied to the American experience. We can see this in the centrality of ethnicity; in the presupposition of a democratic context; in the valorization of assimilationist goals; in the centrality of blackness; and in its underlying individualism. A sustained evaluation of this paradigm, its achievements, and its impact on American society is beyond the scope of this essay, and also beyond my capacities. But if I were to begin to venture down that path, I would suggest that beyond the valuable awarenesses this paradigm has brought into focus — highlighting some vectors of inequality, albeit while obscuring others — in my estimation this social prism seems fundamentally counterproductive to its own purported interests and goals. Under the cloak of combatting racism and discrimination, the American diversity paradigm promotes the identitarian divisions integral to the frictions it seeks to combat, and simultaneously mutes our shared human condition. To rephrase Zizek, in manufacturing the very conditions it seeks to resolve, the way the diversity paradigm frames the problem is itself the problem.
The Slavery Museum in Qatar
Sheikha Moza is an impressive and powerful woman. She is the second wife of Qatar’s former emir and mother of the current emir. She is also substantially responsible for Qatar’s greater openness to the wider world in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. Midway through that period, she evidently decided that Qatar needed a slavery museum. It is the nature of Qatar’s benevolent authoritarianism that these decisions occur out of view, beyond public scrutiny, and for reasons and motivations that only perhaps Sheikha Moza herself knows. But, in Qatar, decisions of this sort are funded by vast reservoirs of capital: they call forth a small army of consultants, advisors, urban planners, architects, engineers and finally the transnational migrant workers who construct and service the project. Indeed, as I’ve argued elsewhere, the Qatari economy revolves around state expenditures on these sorts of projects and megaprojects.
In the aftermath of her decision, there was a juncture at which I was asked to professionally evaluate plans for the museum’s exhibitions and the narratives therein. During my conversations with these other consultants and the planning team, I worked with several different directors. One of them clearly articulated to me that the mission of the museum was to “confront the Qataris with the reality of their own social history” — to deconstruct modern Qatari identity, to begin its reconstruction anew, and to do so with the Qatari population of former slaves at center stage. Naturally, as an ethnographer with some tenure in Qatar, I began discussing the plans for the slavery museum with my Qatari friends, acquaintances, former students, and colleagues. Through the craft of ethnography, my assessments and my perspectives depend almost entirely on others’ perspectives and opinions—in this case, on cultural insiders’ vantage point(s) on this new museum and the ideas to be presented therein. I heard a variety of things in those conversations years ago, but perhaps the most memorable fragment came from a Qatari woman who I’ve long considered a close friend. As a mother of two and a veritable titan in Qatari academia, she noted that the slavery museum was, in her estimation, a terrible idea. What would Qatar gain, she asked me rhetorically, from sending its schoolchildren to this museum, and thereby teaching them that the darker-skinned Qatari citizens in their tribes and families are to be differentiated from other citizens by their distant ancestry?
As she and others described it, after the abolition of slavery in Qatar, former slaves usually took the name of the tribe and family to whom they had belonged, if they had not done so already. In Qatar, and elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula, the post-abolishment integration of the slave population happened through the social logic of the family, clan, and tribe—the logic of indigenous social organization in Arabia. In Qatar, therefore, the ongoing social digestion of ethnic and ancestral difference occurs through the matrix of indigenous social forms. The introduction of the idea that Qataris of African ancestry comprised a new identity grouping in the peninsula’s society cut across the predominant tribal matrix by which families and clans were arranged. Much like the British in Bahrain a century ago, the museum reified one aspect of the Qatari citizenry—emphasizing blackness over the other vectors of difference in the Qatari citizenry—while muting others. Moreover, the museum’s conceptualization slavery around blackness excluded other former slave populations present on the peninsula, including, for example, Balochis from the territories mostly now in Pakistan and Iran.
To confront Qataris with this reality is actually to impose a new, different, foreign calculus of belonging. The social prism at work here betrays its western pedigree, the result perhaps of the many consultants and other foreigners involved in the museum, but also reflecting a global concept of modernity in which slavery museums are symbolically important possessions of modern, developed nations, and integral to their presentation of a national narrative. The American social prism underpinning the museum is largely oblivious to other features of Qatar’s social history. It’s blind to other historical sources of Arabian slavery, to the indigenous tribal form of social organization, to the bedu/hadhar division that’s a significant social feature of Arabian society, and to the sectarian differences that remain significant in most of Arabia. Indeed, as Omar AlShehabi contends, several of these social categories were themselves largely the result of British imperialism. But all these other social fissures are eclipsed by the arrival of the imperialist American diversity paradigm.
The identification of some of Qatar’s former slaves and their descendants as a discrete social category — as a particular type and a discernible sort of Qatari citizen that can and should coalesce in an ethnic sociopolitical movement — can be understood as the imposition of a Western social prism. That social prism pulls blackness from its indigenous articulation in the families, clans and tribes by which much of Qatari society is organized, and connects that newly conceptualized portion of the Qatari citizenry with an Atlantic blackness that’s inextricably entwined with settler societies and slavery in the New World. Although the reverberations of these historical and western relations has fueled the rise of the American diversity paradigm, the imposition of this calculus of belonging on Qatar, and on other peoples of the Arabian Peninsula, traces its roots to the hegemony of the American diversity paradigm and its implementation via processes and conduits that are recognizably imperial in nature.
Some Concluding Thoughts
As a cultural anthropologist whose research and fieldwork is primarily focused on the Middle East, South Asia, and the interconnections between those regions, in this essay I’ve sought to convey my experiences with the exportation and imposition of this American paradigm to other parts of the world. In the twentieth century, American academics mounted numerous substantial critiques concerned with various facets of American imperialism. Indeed, that thread has been a recurring theme in anthropology for much of the discipline’s history. Consider some of the numerous paradigms identified, extrapolated, and critiqued by anthropologists and other academics in this vein: post-war modernization theory, for example, infused international relations and development efforts for much of the latter half of the twentieth century, cultivating both infrastructural changes, ideological shifts and new dependencies in countries around the globe. Similarly, via the Green Revolution the United States foisted industrial agricultural practices on small scale farmers in a constellation of underdeveloped states worldwide, thereby forever changing local communities and building all sorts of new dependencies as a result. Additionally, the United States has been a wellspring source in the export of consumer culture to nearly every cranny of the contemporary world. And for decades, the United States has encouraged and facilitated the denuding of less developed nations’ public sectors through structural adjustment policies and neoliberal “reforms.” Together, these are only a handful of examples of the imperialist facets of the America that anthropologists and others have discerned in past decades. All of these sets of ideas were previously seen by most in anthropology (and by many in other disciplinary traditions) as active venues of American imperialism. In anthropology, these facets of American imperialism were primarily assessed for their deleterious impact on global cultural diversity, which the discipline holds as a key value in the human experience.
In this essay, I contend that America’s diversity paradigm—a social prism that comprises both a conceptualization of how we fit together and also the institutional forms to support that framing of society—is being purveyed along those very same imperial conduits. Indeed, I suggest the American diversity paradigm, as another of these sorts of conceptual assemblages, comprises a set of ideas that order and inform our collective aspirations and stock our imaginations. With an ethnocentricity that is all too human, we Americans are actively exporting our diversity paradigm in imperial fashion. Via the trappings of modernity and progressivism, it arrives not by gunboat, nor via the conditions of IMF loans, but rather in the syllabuses configured by western faculty at satellite universities, via the themes established for the academic workshops that convene international scholars, by the reporting requirements we demand of the programs to which we send American students to study abroad, and by the quotidian emanations of the American-dominated global mediasphere. In my estimation, the closest recent parallel in American history is the exportation and sustained hegemony of neoliberalism — a fairly recent ideological crusade that was, as Naomi Klein so compellingly illuminated, also cultivated in the intellectual hothouse of American academia.
To be clear, anthropology has a long history of grappling with cultural diffusion, deterritorialization, and the mobilities of our interconnected world. Ideas, beliefs, values and practices spread through these networks and connections, and cultural differences are not maintained in stasis. To assert some inviolable connection between culture and place merely leads to the preposterous illogic of ongoing claims concerning cultural “appropriations,” claims that irrationally attempt to address the contemporary landscape of inequality in our world. I want to give no credence to those logics with this argument. But I can certainly recognize that some in this landscape of inequality are better positioned to influence, shape, and promulgate their values and ideas than others. And that describes our current juncture—we are more interconnected than ever before, but we must endeavor to maintain the human treasure of cultural difference. Empathy, understanding, reflexivity, tolerance, and interest in difference can counterbalance these inequities, as anthropology has shown in the last century. None of that is apparent at the frontiers where the diversity paradigm meets difference. Instead, that ideology seems incapable of tolerating difference. In rejecting cultural differences unaligned with its key values, the diversity paradigm and those who promulgate it help extinguish the remnants of cultural diversity that somehow persevered in the roiling interrelations of the contemporary era.