Theming in multi-cultural places

click on images for full-size:

Multi-language storefront in Copenhagen

Parade in Charlottesville, Virginia

Bar street in Koto-ku, Tokyo

Authoritative single view, Belfast, Maine

A city become deeply multi-cultural would not automatically theme all its places, and special themed places would still be possible.

For a place to be themed there has to be some ordinary everydayness for the theme to contrast with. What would happen in a fully multi-cultural world? Imagine that everywhere in the city or nation, or in the world, became thoroughly multi-cultural. Imagine there was no longer any place that was specifically Guatamalan or Japanese. Everywhere had a deeply mixed population, so there was no dominant group, but there were still many different groups coexisting. There might be everyday agreement on things like stopping at red lights and how to use doorknobs, but little agreement on what the stages of a person's life should be, or what it means to be masculine, or when and why one ought to give gifts, or on the appropriate everyday decor for a house or a restaurant. On the large scale, all areas would have about the same mixture, though on smaller scales different sub-groups might have their own typical houses, places of worship, and the like. In such a world, could there still be themed places that were different from the everyday? Or would all places just be samples of one or another cultures? Could the difference between a themed place and a sample of another culture still be maintained?

There are two related issues here:

(a) Would multi-cultural social reality automatically theme everything? No, it would not. If, for instance, each subculture expressed itself in buildings of its own type, which were seen as odd by other subgroups, that would not be theming, only samples of difference.

(b) Would theming still be possible at all in a totally multi-cultural world? Yes, but with restrictions. Consider a parallel question: If all restaurants were ethnic restaurants, could special themed restaurants continue? Yes, but to continue with themed a self-presentation of their self-presentation of otherness would require more extreme effects, to separate themselves from ordinary restaurants that were just samples, not themed. (We can see this by comparing ordinary and emphatically Chinese or Japanese restaurants.)

Theming need not be hindered by the existence of many (mixed or separate) ordinary everyday realities,