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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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Cultural Mashups

The video I REALLY want you to watch is Video #3, but I need to explain a few things first because more than just the music and dance styles are getting mashed up, but cultural styles and influences are converging to create new forms of expression.

In the Punjab region (in India as well as Pakistan), the musical and dance tradition of bhangra is a deeply connection to local customs, religions, and traditions as they vary in different regions.  The coming of spring, weddings, and ceremonies were known for large-scale bhangra dances which are tailor-made for audio-visual extravaganzas.  In 2008, the song Aaja Ni Aaja was released and through online channels it became linked to a larger, global audience. 

VIDEO #1: The Bhangra audio element of the mashup.

Decades earlier, Elvis Presley was the biggest name in Rock ‘n Roll and was becoming a cross-over star, appearing in movies with infused with some of his hits.  The 1957 movie Jailhouse Rock made a hit song out of the song of the same title, infusing African-American blues and Southern Country. 

VIDEO #2: The Elvis video component of the mashup.

Both of these bits of cultural context are necessary for understanding the following cultural production that is embedded in the video below (finally! the video I really wanted to share).  It’s an ingenious mashup that combines the audio of a bhangra song with Elvis’ video.  At the core of the mashup is the idea that incredibly distinct cultural productions are not so incredibly different after all and the commonalities in many cultural expressions exhibit universal impulses. Music and dance, like all cultural expressions, are not authentically pure representations for one place and time, but have many influences and can diffusion in so many ways. Enjoy the “If Elvis were Punjabi” video!! (And how did I find this? On social media of course).

VIDEO#3: The mashup in all it glory…cultural diffusion and cultural convergence at it’s finest.

BONUS CLIP: I did go down a few rabbit holes writing this post to get some of the cultural context that I was missing and it was helpful for me to understand the South Asian culture more. India’s movie industry, a.k.a. Bollywood, has been the perfect platform to make many local, folk cultures to become more prominent and accessible to a larger, and more geographically dispersed audience.  Below is a video showing some of the differences between traditional bhangra dance moves with a more modernized Bollywood version.   

VIDEO #4: Just because it’s good to see the “old school” vs. “new school” styles together.

TAGS: culture, music, diffusion, India, South Asia.

Cultural Norms and Parenting

For years I’ve enjoyed the clips on YouTube of “My First Errand” where it’s been running for decades in Japan. The very existence of the show demonstrates how we think about parenting and childhood are impacted by our cultural influences.  Young kids go on their first unsupervised errand, but with an army of cameramen and shopkeepers prepared for the situation.  Japanese parenting is designed to build resilience, trust in the community, and independence. Given that Japan’s culture this is perfectly reasonable, but now that the show is on Netflix as “Old Enough!”, American parents that parents quite differently, has more than a few parents watching this nervously and scared that it might even be dangerous. 

The NPR article include an editor’s note about how this might not be acceptable to bring here because of local laws.  CBS highlights the parenting debate, but in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald sees this as a whole glimpse into childhood innocence and growth.  Some just see an adorable show. We are caught off guard in the United States, and Netflix viewers are rooting for these toddlers that are given far more autonomy and responsibility than toddlers are given here. Other note that while this might work in a Japanese cultural context with pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, they don’t see how it could work in an American context.       

Personally, I love that they are teaching children that they can develop some independence, resilience, and competence.  We often assume we are the norm, and this is one case that shows American parenting culture in 21st century suburbs, does not represent the what has been normal throughout history,  nor in other places.  Some like Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt have argued that “the Coddling of the American Mind” has had some negative consequences as children who never were allowed to grow and experiment then reach college campuses (I highly recommend the book since this 1-sentence synopsis doesn’t do it justice).    

The Daily Show even bit a bit saying that the show “divides parents.” (5:48-9:00 in the clip below)

TAGS: Japan, culture, cultural norms.

Divorce Turkish Style

Divorce—though originally sanctioned more than 1,400 years ago by Islamic law—is still widely viewed in Muslim societies as a subversive act that breaks up the family. Women who seek divorce can often find themselves ostracized and treated as immoral. Despite such taboos and restrictions, however, divorce rates are rising across Islamic countries, even in ultra-conservative places like Afghanistan.” SOURCE: NY Book Review

This is a difficult subject to discuss in the classroom, but it hits as many of the important cultural norms that surround social interactions that are gender-based. Cultural norms explore more than just the legal rights that people many have, but they also look at the cultural expectations, and the communal/family responsibilities that they are seen to have in their society. Divorce is legal in Turkey, but because it was heavily stigmatized, it was quite rare. Today, modern cultural influences from outside the region, (i.e.-the cultural affects of globalization) are promoting and changing traditional cultural norms of the region. This is a very insightful look into the lived-experience of divorce in the Middle East that gives a sense of the cultural impacts of gendered norms.

GeoEd Tags: culture, cultural norms, gender, Turkey, MiddleEast.

How where you are born influences who you become

Oftentimes, we fail to recognize our own cultural norms because they are so…normal.  Does a fish realize that they’ve always been in water until they flop ashore?  Cultural norms are the air we breathe; in the mountains we might notice the freshness of the air or in an industrial park we might notice the grittiness that comes from particulates that are pollution the air quality, but the point is that we might not notice the air we breathe (or our cultural norms) until we go somewhere else.  Much what we see as our own personality has been shaped within our own cultural environment.  It is not surprising then to see that where you are born can influence who you are and how you see your place in your community (Source: The Conversation).  East Asian children are usually raised to be an integral part of the family and community, while American children who are often taught to become their own individuals and pursue their own path.  Another author paused to consider if Western parenting strategies aren’t the “normal” ones, but if in fact they might seen as weird from a different perspective (Source: BBC). Even our psychological profile is also influenced by the type of society in which we were born.  For example, children in hunter-gatherer societies are more risk averse than urban kids (Source: The Week).  This is not to say that geography is destiny, but where were are from can have a profound impact on who we become.        

GeoEd Tags: culture, cultural norms.

What Cheese Looks Like Around the World

“Cheese from all around the world comes in different forms, textures, and colors, from white to blue. It’s eaten in many different ways, and some cheeses have legends or myths behind their invention Let’s take a look at what cheese looks like around the world.”

SOURCE: YouTube

Geographers are drawn to videos like this that give a quick tour around the world.  The Travel Insider video channel has a few great examples that show how distinct regional variations in food production create cultural distinct local customs.  Food production is inherently cultural, and these videos show how local flavor creates a series of regional variations. 

While I’m a fan of the “cheese around the world” video, I’ll include some other of my favorites below.  Linked here is a great article showing the amazing diversity of breads around the world. On the food them, there is desserts around the world, sandwiches from around the world, street foods around the world, breads around the world, and off the food topic, but still very cultural, wedding traditions around world as a sampler for the channel.   

GeoEd Tags: culture, place, video, food, food production, agriculture, worldwide

Masters of Tradition: A Cultural Journey Across America

NEA Map

Explore the Masters of Tradition story map. Discover the rich diversity of cultures and artistic traditions that enliven our nation. Meet extraordinary artists from across the country who have been awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor for excellence in the folk and traditional arts. Together they represent a remarkable portrait of America’s diverse cultural heritage.” SOURCE: ESRI

This is an excellent StoryMap that to shows examples of local and indigenous cultures that are being practiced by some in the United States.  The NEA Fellowship also shows how preserving local and indigenous cultural traits in the face of popular cultural influences is difficult and is seen as a national priority and part of a treasured cultural heritage.  This is a good article on how to plan a good storymap.

Excellent Examples using the Map Tour template:

  1. Ancient Worlds of the World
  2. New Wonders of the World
  3. Visit Palm Springs
  4. A Gallery of other examples

GeoEd Tags: indigenous, culture, esri, storymap.

 

The Case for Embracing Linguistic Diversity

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“For all our current interest in identity politics, there’s no corresponding sense of identity linguistics. You are what you speak—the words that run throughout your mind are at least as fundamental to your selfhood as is your ethnicity or your gender. And sometimes it’s healthy to consider human characteristics that are not inborn, rigid, and outwardly defined. After all, you can always learn another language and change who you are. And the more languages you know, the more you appreciate how hard it is to label another person, because each mind contains its own unique collection of words. An individual who wrestles with a difficult language can learn to be more sympathetic to outsiders and open to different experiences of the world. This learning process—the embarrassments, the frustrations, the gradual sense of understanding and connection—is invariably transformative.”  SOURCE: Time

In pop culture and the media, race and gender are usually touted as the most important part of a cultural identity, but in the APHG CED, language, religion, and ethnicity are the ones explicitly mentioned.  This article calls for a more nuanced understanding of how language opens up the world and is a part of identity.  It uses a few examples to show how language shapes our world as well as our perceptions of the world: 1-the politics of monolingual presidents and 2-Chinese men selling lingerie in Egypt (trust me, the examples actually work).

GeoEd TAGS: culture, language, media.

The Perfect French Baguette

Baguette2

While there are few symbols as quintessentially French as the baguette, its status – and quality – have been uncertain in recent years. Beginning in the 1950s, bakers began looking for shortcuts to make baguettes more quickly: relying on frozen, pre-made dough. ‘Those bakers at that time were happy,’ said Bouattour, as he led me past the fresh loaves at his Arlette & Colette in Paris’ 17th arrondissement. ‘But it killed our profession.’ In an attempt to save traditional French baguettes from widespread industrialisation, France passed Le Décret Pain (‘The Bread Decree’) in 1993, establishing that, by law, an authentic baguette de tradition must be made by hand, sold in the same place it’s baked and only made with water, wheat flour, yeast and salt.”  Source: BBC

Technological advancements and economic practices would have altered French baking practices, but to halt the change cultural purists took political steps to preserve the old cultural traditions.  The running of bakeries, and the winners of the prize for the best Parisian baguette have been bakers who come from immigrant families. Bakers with Middle Eastern, North African, and West African backgrounds are now key participants of shaping the most French of cultural goods.

Questions to Ponder: Why have bread-making practices become politicized in Paris?  How have immigrants changed French cultural practices?  How have French cultural practices changed immigrants?

GeoEd Tags: culture, food production, France, food, technology, migration, diffusion.

India Is Changing Some Cities’ Names, And Muslims Fear Their Heritage Is Being Erased

"A generation ago, long before Modi (and the BJP) was in power, right-wing Hindu nationalist leaders in Maharashtra state renamed Bombay as Mumbai — a nod to the city’s patron goddess Mumbadevi. Other cities followed: Madras became Chennai; Calcutta, Kolkata; Bangalore, Bengaluru. All the changes were a rejection of Anglicized names that came into use during British colonial rule. In the most recent wave of name changes, it’s not about erasing colonial monikers. It’s about erasing Muslim ones."

Source: www.npr.org

Indian officials have been altering toponyms to be more Hinducentric; this is a results of growing Hindu nationalism as an important element of modern Indian politics.  In another thematically similar, but regionally distinct example, we can see how place names matter in American cities.  When large corporations (like Google or Amazon) move in to a city,  the corporations might try to rename the neighborhoods and, in a sense, rebrand the place.    

Both examples show that the cultural landscape, including the names on them, are not just a passive reflection of the cultures that have shaped these places; they manifest the power dynamics of competing cultural groups seeking to assert their vision of place and culture to be physically manifested in public spaces. 

 

GeoEd Tags: culture, political, place, toponymsIndia, South Asia, Hinduism, historical.

Scoop.it Tagsculturepolitical, placetoponymsIndia, South Asia, Hinduism, historical.

 

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