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popular culture

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.

 

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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.

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.

Los Lakers know their Hispanic fan base

“With timely assists from the Spanish-speaking skills of players and executives, the Lakers have cultivated Hispanic support in their community.”

 

Julio Manteiga, associate director of media monitoring and Latin America communications for the NBA, provided ESPN information stating Hispanic fan attendance for Lakers games was 42 percent. In the 2015 U.S. Census, the Hispanic population of Los Angeles County was measured at 48.4 percent. The Lakers have benefited from taking the initiative to make their games accessible to a Latino audience, starting with broadcasting games in Spanish.

 

Tags: culture, economic, California, Los Angeles, ethnicity, sport, popular culture,

Source: www.espn.com

American football has taken root in Mexico at all levels

“Why is the NFL in Mexico? A visitor to the capital city can sense right away why the league is so bullish on the country’s potential.”

 

The last time the NFL ventured into Mexico was in 2005, when the Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers in Estadio Azteca. Top-level American football is returning to the same venue in Mexico City on Monday night, when the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders will face off in a contest that has been sold out since July.

Just don’t assume the 11-year gap is related to a lack of interest. In reality, Mexico is the top international hotbed for American football, with the largest NFL fan base of any country outside the United States. There are more fans of the league in Mexico City than in most actual NFL markets.

But the sport’s popularity in Mexico goes well beyond NFL fandom. From youth leagues that are overtaking soccer in popularity in some parts of the country to a new pro league, American football is a major player south of the border. With that in mind, here’s a closer look at where the sport stands on every level in Mexico and how fans there consume the game.

 

Tagssport, popular culturediffusion, culture, Mexico, Middle America.

Source: www.espn.com

The history of African-American social dance

Why do we dance? African-American social dances started as a way for enslaved Africans to keep cultural traditions alive and retain a sense of inner freedom. They remain an affirmation of identity and independence. In this electric demonstration, packed with live performances, choreographer, educator and TED Fellow Camille A. Brown explores what happens when communities let loose and express themselves by dancing together.

Source: www.youtube.com

Dance is more than just a way to have fun; dance reflects cultural forms of expression and communal identity.  This Ted-Ed talk demonstrates the rich cultural heritage that can be seen in particular cultural traits (such as food, clothing, dance, music, etc.).  This is bound to be a fun, vibrant way to show the how cultural patterns and processes play out using something that young people generally enjoy. 

 

Tags: culturediffusion, popular culture, music, race, historicalthe South, TED, video.

The great Korean bat flip mystery

MLB’s code is clear: Flip your bat and you’ll pay. But in South Korea, flips are an art. How does this alternate world exist? And what does it say about us? Writer Mina Kimes trekked across South Korea with illustrator Mickey Duzyj to unravel the mystery.

Source: www.espn.com

There are unwritten rules in Major League Baseball, or in geographic terms, there are are cultural norms that are informally enforced to maintain homogeneity and to prevent  cultural drift.  Jose Bautista’s repuation as a villain has much to do with his rejection of a key MLB unwritten rule–Never ‘show up’ the pitcher by flipping the bat.  In South Korea, typically a country much more associated with cultural traditions of honor and respect than the United States, bat flipping is much more accepted and common (diffusion plays a role in the story–baseball came to South Korea via Japan).  This is an interesting story about South Korean baseball’s cultural norms that might intrigue some sports fans. 

 

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

Music and Resistance

“Life imitated art in early 1980 when South African school children, fed up with an inferior apartheid-era education system, took to chanting the lyrics of Pink Floyd‘s ‘Another Brick in the Wall.’ The song, with its memorable line stating, “We don’t need no education,” had held the top spot on the local charts for almost three months, a total of seven weeks longer than it did in America. By May 2, 1980, the South African government had issued a ban on ‘Another Brick in the Wall,’ creating international headlines.”

Source: www.youtube.com

How a song about rigid school rules in England became banned in South Africa is a fantastic lesson in cultural diffusion and glocalization (where the global becomes intensely local).  Here we see an historical example of a global cultural phenomenon taking on local political dimensions.  If you are interested in teaching more about the social and historical content of music, check out TeachRock.org.      

 

Questions to Ponder: Why would this song resonate in South Africa?  How might the video/lyrics map onto the South African situation? 

 

Tags culturediffusion, globalization, popular culture, South AfricaAfrica, music.

Thousands Leave Norwegian Church as Online Registration Backfires

“15,035 people have ‘unsubscribed’ from the church since Monday.”

Source: www.atlasobscura.com

Europe, the most developed region in the world, is also the most secular region today.  During colonial times, Europeans were spreading Christianity across the globe, but now Christianity is becoming more a part of Europe’s historical landscape.  Secularization can be seen as either the cause or the effect of several other European trends such as declining fertility rates.  Today Europeans have stopped attending mass en masse, and many cathedrals sit empty.  This example for Norway has an amusing twist, but it is rooted in a powerful cultural shift. 

 

Questions to Ponder: What are other signs of secularization on the cultural landscape?  What would you do with a former sacred site (and an architectural treasure) that is can’t be maintained?

 

Tags: culturepopular culture, religion, ChristianityNorway, Europe.

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