SONGSOPTOK: We would like to start this interview with your opinion on the theme of our current issue. Do you think that cultural heritage has a role to play in modern society? Why?

BRITTA HOFFMANN: I think that cultural heritage is a part of who we are, so that there is a certain influence that we can’t deny. We should be aware of the way that our ancestors lived, so we can see what has changed in time, and what still needs to be changed.

SONGSOPTOK:  How would you define cultural heritage? In your opinion, is it something tangible or intangible? Or is it a combination of both? If so, in what way?

BRITTA HOFFMANN  To me, it is a combination, because in time, much knowledge of the past got lost, or was replaced to newer knowledge, even if it was not necessarily better than the older one.

SONGSOPTOK:  In the country and the society you live in, do you think culture and cultural heritage are important? In what way?

BRITTA HOFFMANN  I think it should be important in any society, because the way of our ancestors defines to a certain degree who we are now.

SONGSOPTOK:  What, if any, are the outward manifestations of this heritage in the day to day life of the society you live in?

BRITTA HOFFMANN  One of the ways is in role playing – somehow each persons gets to be defined by certain roles, for example based on gender, or based on traditions.

SONGSOPTOK:  Is culture, in its different components, taught or learnt? Should it, for example, be taught to children? Or is there a different way of transmission of cultural values to future generations?

BRITTA HOFFMANN Usually we start teaching our children certain standards and values, when they grow up – at schools, they often are being taught more about our cultural heritage. But there are also museums etc., in which everyone can make researches, and libraries.

SONGSOPTOK:  In your opinion, can culture be equated to tradition? Or do you believe culture is actually a living thing that tends to evolve over time?

BRITTA HOFFMANN  Culture is a living thing, that changes with time, according to what is needed in society. Nonetheless we should accept and tolerate persons, who decide to be different from the rest. There are still certain difficulties in accepting and tolerating new ways to act and think, even if they don’t do any harm.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think that the increasing importance of technology and mechanization of modern society play a significant role as far as cultural heritage is concerned? Does the word ‘heritage’ have any relevance to the society you live in? Can you please give us some examples to illustrate your answer?

BRITTA HOFFMANN  Meanwhile, technology is playing a more and more growing role: Communication is a good example. We get mostly in contact with our environment  by using the internet, with electrical devices such as cell phones. This way, we can also get into contact with persons from anywhere in the world, living in different societies – it is a good chance to find out more about their traditions, their values and standards. If we forget our fears and just talk with them, we might see that the differences are not so big that they can’t be overcome. And we might learn more about our own heritage.

SONGSOPTOK:  What, if any, are the impacts of your own cultural heritage in your very personal sphere? If you live in a multicultural society, how would you analyze the interaction between different cultures?

BRITTA HOFFMANN  Here, it depends very much on where exactly someone lives within this country. Some parts seem to be more isolated, while in big cities, there is more of a multicultural society. I think that we just need to keep our minds open to new influences, because not everything that is different is necessarily bad for us, but it could be that other ways might help us more than the traditional ones.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you believe that you have to stop being traditional – that is, give up some of your beliefs and practices in order to be ‘modern’? Or do you think that there is no incompatibility between the two? What is your personal experience?

BRITTA HOFFMANN  I think there should be a balance – we need to decide what is still of use for us, and what is simply not according to this society anymore, because they would be wrong to still be used. We need to find the balance in ourselves – so we can see which traditions are still of importance for us, and which should be replaced.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you believe in ‘cultural imperialism’? What is your personal experience? In this context, do you believe that the world is increasingly becoming mono cultural based on the principles of the modern society?

BRITTA HOFFMANN  I think that it is not a bad thing if the human kind grows more into being one race – but we need to remember who we used to be, so we keep up certain values and standards, certain traditions which are not in the way. We need to memorize the past, because we still can learn from it.


We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen

(Editor: Songsoptok)


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