Frederik Stjernfelt

    is a Danish writer and semiotician. He works at the Center for Semiotics at the University of Aarhus. He has devoted much work to investigating the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, resulting in two books co-written with novelist Jens-Martin Eriksen, The Anatomy of Hatred and The Scenography of War, in part travelogues and in part more analytical, scholarly works. In 2008 they co-authored an acclaimed critique of culturalism, The Politics of Segregation: Multiculturalism – Ideology and Reality. „It seemed to us that the debate on multiculturalism has reached an impasse. There was the undeniable rise of nationalist populism emphasizing the value of national culture on the one hand, and multiculturalism of the Left advocating the equality of various cultures and claiming wide-ranging special rights for members of minority cultures on the other. These two movements see each other as polar opposites. We believe, however, that they are in fact related. Both represent different versions of culturalism. Both overestimate the individuals’ dependence on the culture into which they were born; both sometimes go so far as to claim that individuals are profoundly marked by the culture to which they belong. In our view, this notion contradicts the key ideals of the Enlightenment: the autonomy of the individual, individual rights, equality before the law and the ideal of an open society. All these values are jeopardized the minute we start perceiving the individual as product and part of a certain culture, making culture more important than democracy and Enlightenment.”