I’ve really been looking forward to socials this semester; it’s so wild to believe TALONS is almost over already. One of my big goals throughout the entire program, but is one I’d really like to focus on this semester in this class is stepping out of my comfort zone and looking at things in ways I may not necessarily agree with, like different view points, or learning about things that make me not as comfortable to think about in terms of the current world around me, as well as history. I think last year I really focused more on being more eloquent with my thoughts and trying to be more precise and meaningful with my content. I do think precision and meaningful content is something I would still look toward improving more, but I do believe stepping out of my comfort zone is the big one.
The topic of cultural genocide and the value of culture has been brought up first in our social studies semester, and to be frank, the value of culture is something that has been relevant to my personal life in the past year, through the exploration of cultural identity and what my culture means to me. I thought it would be interesting for me to dive deeper into why cultural transmission is valued and why it’s disruption is so terrible. Relating this topic back to socials last year, my decision to approach this topic is focusing on why cultural identity through transmission contributes so positively to diversifying the collective identity of a population, and why challenging the diversity of a population is not favourable. Under this topic, I devised questions like:
- In what forms can disruption happen? Does it always have to be genocide or could it be more subtle ways?
- Why is diversity such a prominent goal in society?
- How does a culture continue to develop after disruption has occurred?
How Culture Drives Behaviours | Julien S. Bourrelle | TEDxTrondheim
One of the things I wanted to dive into a little bit is the reason of why cultural diversity and cultural transmission is so essential for humans to thrive and flourish. I came across this great TED Talk with a very interesting perspective on how culture works in our world. There is a section of the talk where the speaker, Julien, speaks about an experience he had in Italy on a wine tour, where a misunderstanding in cultural norms and clashing of culture led to the discontent of locals with him and his friends. He goes on to paraphrase:
“And we all see the world through cultural glasses. The lens through which your brain sees the world shapes your reality. If you can change the lens, not only can you change the way your brain perceives behaviours, but you can change the way people relate cultural differences. Embedded within that statement is the key to benefiting from diversity.”
This was an interesting statement to hear indeed, and really gives a positive perspective on why cultural acceptance can allow us to become stronger as a population. Watch the entire talk below:
Though not as tragic and horrible as other forms of cultural disruption are, I feel like forms of immigration could sometimes be considered at a level of cultural disruption on a smaller scale. When immigrating to another place as a result of refuge, for a new start, or for a better life, the culture of those immigrating can be disrupted or lost in the process of trying to fit the collective culture of the new society. This article I found is a piece about the difference of connection with culture between first, second, and third generation immigrated children, and their parents. It talks of the pattern of cultural value through the generations, and shines a light on just why cultural transmission is so important for building a self-identity and self-acceptance. Author Rupa Shenoy interviews Eliza Dushku, a third generation American, about discovering her Albanian roots.
“And, according to what Tran says, Dushku is following the pattern academics have recognized in the first, second and third generations of Americans who came out of the immigration wave a century ago. The first generations, Dushku’s grandparents, tried to blend in. The second generation, her father, did too. Dushku says he just didn’t talk about it much.
The third generation — Dushku herself — discovers their roots, recovers what they can and claims the culture proudly.”
In this article by Rico Adjrun, the importance of cultural identity is explored through indigenous art in Australia, and how identity amongst indigenous peoples is being affected by fake non-Indigenous artists selling “Indigenous Art” solely for money and no other reason.
“Art is an extension of its creator, and traditional cultural art from Indigenous Australians is a visual interpretation of the rich history of one of the oldest living cultures on Earth.
The visual interpretation transferred onto traditional artefacts is sacred knowledge, willingly shared in this day and age by Indigenous countrymen and women — though in modern society it can seem as if nothing is sacred, and exploitation of tradition is inevitable.
And although some say imitation is the highest form of flattery, the scale on which fakes are being produced is having an impact on Indigenous artists.”
This disruption in the identity and the authenticity of Australian indigenous peoples is both aggravating and inevitable, as the article states. As mentioned in the first video of this post, trying to see things through different cultural understanding is key to being able to maintain diversity and relate cultures with one another. When a culture is exploited like this, the empowerment of the culture can be depleted, leaving the cultural identity at risk.
What does this all mean?
Through learning about these various aspects of what cultural transmission means and why it’s important to encourage it,I found myself wanting to look at a more personally relevant level of cultural disruption than the types of things spoken about in class. I feel like it allows me to relate with my findings more and use them how I may see fit. Cultural identity and cultural transmission are things that essentially, allow someone to have a way to shape their life and who they are. When diversity is achieved in the world, where cultures are left to thrive and we are able to mould our views to see things in other cultural perspectives, it benefits everyone in terms of skills, values, and unity. Though culture may be disrupted, any desperate attempt to hold onto one’s roots is of value, as it allows identity and diversity to be passed on through multiple generations. I think it would be interesting to find more articles and interviews with people about these topics rather than the copious amount of scholarly articles and surveys I found, as they are current and relevant for anyone observing them. The value of culture, as mentioned previously, is something I am still navigating myself, and I have found great value in being able to delve deeper into these areas of interest.