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cultural norms

The Japanese art of (not) sleeping

"The Japanese don’t sleep. This is what everyone – the Japanese above all – say. I first encountered these intriguing attitudes to sleep during my first stay in Japan in the late 1980s. Daily life was hectic; people filled their schedules with work and leisure appointments, and had hardly any time to sleep. Many voiced the complaint: ‘We Japanese are crazy to work so much!’ But in these complaints one detected a sense of pride at being more diligent and therefore morally superior to the rest of humanity. Yet, at the same time, I observed countless people dozing on underground trains during my daily commute. Some even slept while standing up, and no one appeared to be at all surprised by this.

The positive image of the worker bee, who cuts back on sleep at night and frowns on sleeping late in the morning, seemed to be accompanied by an extensive tolerance of so-called ‘inemuri’ – napping on public transportation and during work meetings, classes and lectures. Women, men and children apparently had little inhibition about falling asleep when and wherever they felt like doing so."

Source: www.bbc.com

If you subscribe to Edward Hall’s Cultural Iceberg model (video), we can readily see, touch, or experience many parts of a society’s culture; what they wear, the ways the communicate, the food they eat, etc.  Beneath the surface, though, are the less obvious cultural traits that aren’t so easily observed.  These aspects of culture, such as the beliefs, values, and thought patterns of a society, are critical to understanding differing cultural traits.

 

Questions to Ponder: In this article about sleep in Japan, what elements of external culture (above the surface) are present?  What elements of internal culture (beneath the surface) are present?  How do the cultural traits beneath the surface shape the cultural traits that are above the surface?    

Scoop.it Tags: culturecultural norms, labor, JapanEast Asia.

WordPress TAGS: cultural norms, culture, labor, Japan, East Asia.

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Every Culture Appropriates

The question is less whether a dress or an idea is borrowed, than the uses to which it’s then put.

Source: www.theatlantic.com

A while back a prom dress causes an uproar, and a backlash to the uproar (as you can imagine political leanings heavily influence the cultural perspectives as demonstrated by the difference between the New York Times , Fox News and the social media reactions on the same topic).  This article pulls pack from the immediate issues that fan the fans, but asks some of the broader questions about cultural diffusion and cultural appropriation.  

 

Tags: popular culturediffusion, culturecultural norms.

 

At Seattle Mariners games, grasshoppers are a favorite snack

“Chapulines [grasshoppers] have become a snack favorite among baseball fans in Seattle. Follow their path from Oaxaca, Mexico, to Safeco Field. To many, the insect might be a novelty – a quirky highlight for an Instagram story from a day at the ballpark. To those in Mexico consuming them for centuries, they are a building block of nutrition.”

Source: www.espn.com

Eating insects is incredibly nutritious; raising them is cost effective and environmentally sustainable. And yet, the cultural taboos against entomophagy in the West are barriers to the cultural diffusion of the practice.  At some baseball games and high-end restaurants, grasshoppers are sold as a novelty item.  What I especially enjoy about this ESPN article is that it covers the cultural production of the chapulines in Mexico and follows the story to the consumption of the grasshoppers in the United States.  

 

Tags: sport, popular culturediffusion, culturecultural norms, foodMexico, economic, agriculture.

Too Many Men

“Nothing like this has happened in human history. A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world’s two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India.”

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

There are far-reaching consequences to the gender imbalances in India and China.  The fantastically rich article covers four major impacts: 

Village life and mental health. Among men, loneliness and depression are widespread. Villages are emptying out. Men are learning to cook and perform other chores long relegated to women.

Housing prices and savings rates. Bachelors are furiously building houses in China to attract wives, and prices are soaring. But otherwise they are not spending, and that in turn fuels China’s huge trade surplus. In India, there is the opposite effect: Because brides are scarce, families are under less pressure to save for expensive dowries. 

Human trafficking. Trafficking of brides is on the rise. Foreign women are being recruited and lured to China, effectively creating similar imbalances in China’s neighbors.

Public safety. With the increase in men has come a surge in sexual crime in India and concerns about a rise in other crimes in both countries. Harassment of schoolgirls in India has in some towns sparked an effort to push back — but at a cost of restricting them to more protected lives.

 

Tags: gender, ChinaIndia, culture, population.

Looking for Love in Small Religion

“Think modern dating is tough? Try hunting for a husband or wife in the Druze community—adherents are forbidden from marrying outside of the faith. This desire to marry someone within the faith is not just a preference—the religion prohibits exogamy. If a Druze marries a non-Druze, it will not be a Druze wedding, nor can the couple’s children be Druze—the religion can only be passed on through birth to two Druze parents. There are no conversions into the Druze faith.”

Source: www.theatlantic.com

Korean Baseball 101: Way Beyond the Bat Flips

Baseball in South Korea is more than a game. It’s akin to a religion. American missionaries first brought the sport to the peninsula in 1905, and the country absolutely loved it. Today, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) features 10 teams and a unique sporting culture all its own. The city of Busan and its hometown Lotte Giants have a particularly passionate fan base. From the hitters’ flashy bat flips, to the team’s famous “cheermaster” and its unlikely American super fan, consider this is your crash course on the joyful madness that is Lotte Giants fandom.

Source: www.youtube.com

If a sport (or other cultural practice) diffuses to a new place, is it going to look exactly the same as it does in the original cultural hearth? The bat flip is the go-to difference between Korean and American baseball, but there are other differences.  Maybe, or like baseball in South Korea, it can have a culture all its own. This is an interesting story that shows how the diffusion of cultural traits around the globe doesn’t have to lead to a more bland cultural mosaic. As cultural traits are reterritorialized into new places, they add vibrancy to the cultural fabric of the institution/sub-culture that they’ve adopted.

Tags: sport, popular culturediffusion, culturecultural norms, South Korea, East Asia.

Pakistan’s traditional third gender isn’t happy with the trans movement

For centuries, South Asia has had its own Khawaja Sira or third gender culture. Now, some third gender people in Pakistan say the modern transgender identity is threatening their ancient culture.

Source: www.pri.org

Sometimes our assumptions about a society, and how they might react to cultural issues are just that…assumptions.  I for one was very surprised to learn that Pakistan had a a traditional third gender. 

 

Tags: culture, developmentpodcast, genderPakistansexuality, South Asia, religion.

Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy

“In [recent years], the South’s 150-year reverence for the Confederacy was shaken. Public officials responded to the national mourning and outcry by removing prominent public displays of its most recognizable symbol [the flag]. It became a moment of deep reflection for a region where the Confederate flag is viewed by many white Southerners as an emblem of their heritage and regional pride despite its association with slavery, Jim Crow and the violent resistance to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.”

Source: www.splcenter.org

Just a few more links that I’ve added to the article, Cultural Meaning in Moving Monuments.  Right now, many people are calling for the removal of all memorials that honor the Confederacy and the call for the removal of all Confederate monuments is in full swing.  

 

Tags: monuments, the South, architectureracecultural norms, landscape.

Jordanian parliament repeals rape law

“The Jordanian parliament voted on Tuesday to abolish a provision in the penal code that allows rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims – a move that is being hailed as ‘historic’ by activists and locals. Article 308 permit[ed] pardoning rape perpetrators if they marry their victims and stay with them for at least three years.  The controversial provision has for decades divided Jordan between those who believe the law is necessary to protect women’s ‘honour’, and others who see it as a violation of basic human rights.”

Source: www.aljazeera.com

Cultural norms and political practices are so often intertwined that understanding local laws means that one has to understand the cultural context within which they were created, and in this case, the cultural processes that led to a political will to change them.  

 

Tagsculture, cultural norms, gender, MiddleEast, Jordan, political.

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