Anthropology is the study of humanity. Anthropology examines societies and culture in order to understand the diversity and social existence of humans throughout history. Anthropology focuses on the evolution of behavioral patterns of humans. Anthropology explores the varied nuances of human life from gender, race, religion, rituals, language, hierarchies, and more. Anthropologists take a holistic approach to understanding humanity and how the past behaviors of humans affect the present. They study different societies to discover the diverse ways in which people organize, behave, and adapt. Anthropologists utilize their findings and compare patterns and behaviors to better understand society and to improve their community. Anthropology is divided into four categories: biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural anthropology. Biological anthropology focuses more on the biological evolution of humans through time and studies biological variation in humans. Biological anthropology can be applied to modern societies through the exploration of health in societies, genetics, adaptation, nutrition, and diseases. Archaeology is the branch of anthropology that centers on the study of historical artifacts and fossils. By uncovering past objects, archeologists learn about how people lived and behaved in the past and how they have evolved. Linguistic anthropology studies language and communication and explores how dialect evolves and changes. Furthermore, linguistic anthropologists examine patterns in language to determine how societies communicate and how language conveys information, emotion, and identity. The fourth branch of anthropology is cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropology examines the interactions and behaviors of people and how this affects the development and evolution of societies. Cultural anthropology studies topics such as language, social skills, politics, gender, and more to understand patterns of cultural behavior. Cultural anthropology compares current events and contemporary cultures to historic events to further understand humanity and its variations.
Equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines is a growing issue, with certain countries projected to not receive the vaccine until 2023. Although the progression of research surrounding Covid-19 has been remarkable, the certain biases regarding manufacturing, purchasing, and distributing Covid-19 vaccines have shown detrimental to global needs. According to data, there are substantial concentrations of vaccine reservations among high income countries, leading to lack of access for low income countries. Wealthier countries with only 14% of the world’s population have 53% of the eight most effective vaccines. Although there is missing data for vaccine production in many countries, it is concerning that billions of people may not receive a safe and effective vaccine for years. Certain countries have enough vaccines to vaccinate nearly the whole population while other countries do not even have a supply for health care workers and high risk people. Not only is vaccine equality the ethical thing to do, but it also benefits the high income countries. In fact, the U.N. Secretary General warns that vaccine inequality can result in the virus becoming deadlier and more resistant, leading to Covid-19 resistance against vaccine. He advises that nations must work together on vaccinations in order to promote global recovery. According to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the entire global economy depends on low income countries receiving vaccines. If not, advanced countries will bear extreme costs of the pandemic. Fortunately, more and more national governments have been showing commitment to distributing vaccines to low income countries. Organizations such as the World Health Organization, Vaccine Alliance, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Covax have worked to promote vaccine equality. Anthropologists play an important role in studying the global distribution and implementation of vaccines. They can examine areas where biosocial and economic factors limit access to the Covid-19 vaccine and study populations who are marginalized from health services. Furthermore, through ethnographic research, anthropologists can examine local knowledge in order to gain insight on how to combat vaccine inequality.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe examines the effect of colonialism on the Igbo community Umuofia in Nigeria. Through the protagonist, the Igbo warrior Okonkwo, the reader gains insight on precolonial Africa and how missionaries affect the overall culture of the community. Things Fall Apart is Achebe’s first novel, and one of his main purposes in writing the novel was simply to tell the true story of himself and his people. For centuries, the story of Africa has been told by European writers and has not been accurate. He wanted to write a story that would be an accurate representation of his culture. In his novel, Achebe chose to write about the moment of change in history when one culture is in conflict with another culture. His goal was not to paint an idealized vision, but rather an authentic story in which African culture was seen in all its grandeur and weakness. This novel has been pivotal, as it enlightens the reader on an often overlooked history and is key in the creation of an authentic African voice in literature. This novel has been translated into fifty-seven languages, and around the world readers find something in the story that resonates in their own history. Things Fall Apart demonstrates the universals of the human story through its portrayal of the clash of two cultures. Throughout the novel, Achebe conveys the importance of communication and open dialogue when guiding a society. He shows the value of being open to other cultures and acknowledging that there is never a “right way” of thinking. In reading this book, I gained tremendous insight about the Igbo community, including aspects of its religious beliefs and moral and ethical codes. I learned about the Igbo history, such as their traditions, dedication to education, marriage ceremonies, and hospitality to name a few. Not only did Things Fall Apart enlighten me on African culture and history, it also taught me several lessons about identity, respect for others, and cultural empathy that can be applied in my daily life.
Dance showcases the uniqueness and capabilities of individuals and can provide opportunities for growth and leadership. However, dance lessons are not readily accessible and available for many populations, especially minorities or underprivileged people. Additionally, many dance education curriculums are not diverse and center on only certain styles of dance, rather than styles from around the world. There is a need for further cultural diversity in the realm of dance and further inclusivity of marginalized populations. According to United States Census Bureau, by 2044 more than 50% of Americans are projected to be part of a minority group due to demographic shifts. As the country becomes more demographically diverse, the need for more culturally diverse curricula to educate people and to equip them for the future is necessary. Although, dance education has changed to reflect more accurately the demographics of society, there is a need for more appreciation and recognition of non-western dance forms. The United States is more racially diverse than ever, yet there is lack of representation of non-western cultures within dance.
Karen Schupp and Nyama McCarthy-Brown conducted research that included student’s perspectives surrounding cultural diversity in dance education to evaluate what changes are necessary to embrace cultural diversity more fully. They wanted to analyze how education has evolved with the shifting demographics and developing role of dance in society. They wanted to study the re-conceptualization of dance programs in regards to cross-cultural curricula, and evaluate whether or not students saw successful diversification. Organizations such as the National Association of Schools of Dance and National Dance Education Organization, have evolved to encompass more cultural recognition and appreciation by revising their curriculum and content. Strategies to diversify dance education have included: “diversifying the four-year sequential curriculum; diversifying course curriculum, requiring culturally diverse readings; targeting diversity hires; diversifying movement styles assessed in the audition process; recruiting diverse students; diversifying students accepted into the program; providing need based scholarships; and choosing demographically diverse guest artists” ( Schupp, McCarthy-Brown). Despite many changes programs have made to curricula, student’s perspectives on these changes have not been analyzed. Schupp and McCarthy-Brown acknowledge that there is not sole solution to diversifying dance curricula, but advocate for education models that embrace multiculturalism.
Schupp and McCarthy-Brown analyzed the historical development of dance to more fully understand how dance has evolved in the past decades. The first dance major program was founded in the late 1920s by Margaret H’Doubler, and was focused on modern dance as a creative art. Multiculturalism as an integral part of dance education as a way to respect diversity was not introduced until the 1960s. As this movement gained traction, the first dance program to focus on ethnic arts was founded in 1962 at the University of California, Los Angeles. Soon, cross-cultural dance forms became more predominant and programs progressively shifted from the Western-centric ideals of dance programs. With growing research about the importance of the diversification of dance, culturally diverse competences are requirements for the National Dance Education Organization’s Profession Teaching Standards for Dance Arts and National Association of Schools of Dance standards for liberal arts and professional dance major degree programs.
To evaluate progress in embracing diversity and inclusion and discover more effective ways to diversify dance curricula, Schupp and McCarthy surveyed 157 students with quantitative and qualitative questions that assessed the value of cultural diversity in the survey respondents’ programs, the titles and content of their dance history courses, their knowledge of culturally diverse artists, and the courses they were enrolled in. They found that the respondents had positive views regarding the effectiveness of dance programs in providing them with a range of cultural perspectives on dance, reflecting the success of diversity initiatives. However, according to the results, programs continued to value modern dance and ballet over other dance styles. Furthermore, results showed exposure to diverse guest artists, performances, and events were the main ways programs promoted diversity. Yet, when respondents were asked to provide knowledge of culturally diverse artists many were unable to successfully answer, and many students advocated for more cultural education in dance history courses.
Overall, students saw improvement in their program’s efforts to promote cultural diversity, but still saw a need for more change. Schupp and McCarthy-Brown found that dance programs promoted cultural exploration and education, but still valued the aesthetic values of Western dance forms over other styles They emphasized the importance of dance educators and their role in the strengthening and appreciation of the role of dance in societies around the world and widening the canon of dance. By conducting this research and providing more insight into students’ perspectives, Schupp and McCarthy-Brown hope to enlighten educators on current limitations in education and strategic ways to improve in aligning the content in a more inclusive manner.
Dance ethnology is the study of dance as a means to analyze human culture, social structure, and societies. It is a relatively new branch of anthropology, but research and publications focused on collecting and interpreting dances are becoming more available. Ethnologists identify what is considered dance and studies the expressive and rhythmic aspects of movement. Ethnologists study “culture and social forms as expressed through a medium of dance and how dance functions within a cultural pattern”. Ethnological dance is more focused on indigenous or folk dances rather than modern-day dance expression. Furthermore, ethnology analyzes the patterns of dance among cultures, and how it reveals social organization and economic activity through its evolution. Studying the spread of dance can help anthropologists study the adaptations, cultural diffusion, and variations in evolution of certain early societies.
One of the most important aspects of dance ethnology is the ability to study social relations through dance. A person’s role in a dance answers many questions about the hierarchy and social order of societies. For example, the traditional Iroquois Eagle Dance allows individuals to freely express their creativity, whereas in other tribes, variation outside of the set dance is not allowed. This demonstrates the hierarchy and range of order among tribes. Likewise, dance conveys a tremendous amount about gender roles. For instance, in Samoa the males are free to improvise within the dance, but the females are confined to the set form of the dance. Additionally, dance can be used as a male initiation rite, in which women are excluded from. In general, males tend to dominate ceremonial dances, and compared to social dances in which men and women dance together, ritual dances separate the sexes. Choreographic grouping can show the hierarchic organization of societies and divisions among groups. For instance, economic specialization is distinguished by dance formations and functions. In certain African communities, the best dancers are the hunters and the less important dancers are the farmers. Furthermore, in India different dance types distinguish the higher and lower castes and show superiority.
Aside from studying social relations in dance, ethnologists study the diversity and spread of dance around the world. Dance differs around the world, and topographical surroundings and linguistic groupings all have an effect on its prevalence in a culture. The environment and resources that are available in an area have a profound effect on dance in that society. For example, the prevalence of maize in certain areas inspires specific ritualistic dance forms. Similarly, the Plains and Woodlands tribes have unique dance forms inspired by the abundance of buffalo in the area. Regardless of locations, indigenous groups all around the world have the commonality of using dance as a ritual for increasing food supply, controlling the weather, and stimulating good luck. Dance ethnologists have hypothesized that this could be due to common origination followed by migration and adaptions, cultural diffusion, or orthogenesis.
Anthropologists and dance ethnologists work together to understand the relationship between native patterns, human relations, social organizations, and adaptations. Dance can be used to study psychological behaviors. For example, dance postures can illustrate extraverted or introverted behavior. Dance conveys emotion and is in a way its own language. Stylistic similarities in dances can be linked to linguistic relationships and culture contact.
In order to study the complex area of dance, dance ethnologists are trained in anthropology, kinesiology, folk dancing, dance notation, music, and kinetic rhythmic analysis. It is very difficult, however, for researchers without significant backgrounds in dance to successfully understand and have insight and point of view into the realm of dance. It is important to for dance ethnologists to understand the significance of dance as a means to analyze culture and history. Especially in modern day and age, dance is undermined as simple entertainment and fun. People fail to see that steps and movements show cultural traits and expresses a rich layer history. Dance ethnology reveals a new complex understanding of humanity that can aid in communication and understanding of the world around us.
With expanding technology, anthropologists have turned to social media to examine cultural aspects of different countries. Since technology impacts the daily lives of most people, anthropologists have begun to study how digitalization affects what it means to be human. In the global anthropological research project “Why We Post” anthropologists studied the uses and consequences of social media. Nine anthropologists spent fifteen months in nine communities around the world analyzing the role of social media in societies. They took a comparative approach studying the effects of social media around the world and examined the increasing importance of images and technology in communication. They noticed sociological concepts such as communities and networks online and the reach and mobility of digitalization. They studied how social media influenced politics, education, gender, commerce, privacy, and equality. Their findings were very interesting, and they concluded that social media does not increase individualism, social media does not detract from education, and digital photography technology aids in communication and self-expression. They discovered the diversity of social media around the world, and the importance of digital anthropology with the growing technology of the world.
Digital anthropology is the branch of anthropology concerned with understanding the digital world as a means to study humanity and culture. Digital anthropologists study the cultural and social context of social media and technology and examine their uses and consequences. They study the changing dynamic of digitalization, such as the proliferation of viral images, fake news, hacking, communication media, digital capital markets, and more. Holistic ethnographers strive to understand the involvement and relationship between people and digital technologies. Furthermore, they strive to minimize generalizations about digital technology that are not based on in-depth comparative studies by spreading awareness on the influence of technology in countries across the globe. They strive to assess the consequence of digital technology with studies of all populations through virtual ethnography. They use critical analysis, participant observation, holism, methodological relativism, comparison, and reflexivity in their research of digital technology. The benefits of digital anthropology are far reaching, with the ability to analyze the effects of artificial intelligence through studies of how people interact with technology. They are able to observe the cultural and technological evolution of humans and the future possibilities for humanity.
As I was researching digital anthropology, I was inspired by the blog “Anthropologizing” created by researcher Amy Santee, in which she posted about COVID-19 and meme culture. In light of recent events and national pandemics, I wanted to further research and discuss how memes and social media platforms can reflect culture.
Memes portray values of society and are a form of cultural expression. While memes are meant to be entertaining, they can reflect political, social, and cultural ideologies, and unite people under shared understanding of an event. Memes can also help promote stronger relationships and solidarity among communities. Memes are, in a way, a language, and can connect people despite language barriers and differences. Especially during difficult times, memes can be a way of coping. During COVID-19 and quarantine, social media and memes can be a way to connect and socialize without being in person. Digital anthropologists can utilize memes in their cultural studies to analyze cultural evolution, cultural transmission, and cultural diffusion.
I have included some memes reflecting current events. I believe these images to be not only entertaining but also enlightening on societal emotion and ideology.
The above memes certainly reflect the cultural change within the past few months, as they demonstrate the changes many have faced in their personal life and professional life.
Not everyone’s daily meals consist of the usual American subsistence of chicken, vegetables, or pasta. From special holiday-time food to everyday fare, many cultures have very unique and special traditions when it comes to food. In most cases, these bizarre food items have an interesting history, a one-of-a-kind preparation method, or require a distinctive acquired taste. Out of the thousands of foods from different cultures, we have picked five of the most fascinating foods around the globe to share their story:
1. Fried Tarantulas, Cambodia
While you won’t find many spiders on the menu in America, crispy fried tarantulas are actually a delicacy in regions of Asia, such as Cambodia. This strange menu item supposedly tastes similar to crab, and fetches a hefty price. So how did this popular dish become so longed for? Tarantulas first became popular in Cambodia as a plentiful source of nutrition during one of the worst famines in their history. In the 1950s, Cambodia became independent from France, an event that was followed by civil wars and destruction. In the 1970s, Khmer Rouge, a communist military regime, gained control and forced nearly 2.5 million people out of Cambodia’s capital city. Displaced, homeless, and in desperate need of food, these people turned to unlikely food sources. One of these food sources was the tarantula. These tarantulas were plentiful, nutritious, and easy to capture and cook. Today, this is a bit different: tarantulas are no longer for the common people, and are rapidly dwindling in number due to over-deforestation. However, they are still enjoyed as a tasty, fried tradition all over Cambodia.
2. Jellied Moose Nose, Northern North America
Moose is commonly eaten in the wintery lands of Canada and Alaska… but not just the meat. Jellied moose nose became popularized in the 1830s by indigineous hunters and became further known when the recipe was published in a Canadian magazine in the late 1960s. The inconsistent nature of hunting meant that no meat could be wasted, so the wives of the moose hunters came up with a creative way to cook the nose. Jellied moose nose is made by mixing chopped up moose nose with broth and seasonings, and then allowing this mixture to become solidified like jello, hence the name. It is eaten in many forms including plain, in a stew, or sliced.
3. Shark Fin Soup, China
Shark fin soup was a huge part of Chinese culture during the Song Dynasty. In fact, it was even categorized as one of the “eight treasures of Chinese cuisine” alongside other unusual delicacies such as bear paws and monkeys’ brains. This staple was a sign of wealth and influence, and was used as a marker to tell if another family was rich, generous, and important. Shark fin soup is prepared by mixing tough strands of shark fin meat in a chicken or pork-based broth. However, one step of the cooking process has made this esteemed dish quite controversial in modern times. The fin of the shark was typically sliced off while the shark was still alive. The dismembered animal was then released into the ocean to die in a short period of time. This cruel process was not only criticized for its methods, but also for its high level of use that has led to the endangerment of several shark species. While some have stopped eating this dish due to ethical concerns, shark fin soup will always be a symbol of traditional culture and influence in China.
4. “Percebes” (gooseneck barnacles), Spain
Gooseneck barnacles, called “Percebes” in Spain and Portugal, are a particular type of barnacle that is similar in appearance to geese eggs. This matching appearance led medieval scientists to believe that baby geese were born from these crustaceans. These barnacles are only found on the Costa de la muerte, a.k.a. The Coast of Death, an area with vicious tides and sharp rocks. Today, these barnacles are harvested from their dangerously hard-to-reach rocky perches, and sold for about 100 euros a plate. These tasty crustaceans have the flavor of lobster, and are typically steamed, dipped in butter, and eaten fresh.
5. Chicha de jora (corn beer), South America
Chicha de jora, or corn beer, is exactly what it sounds like: beer made from corn. This beverage is popular in the Andes regions of South America, such as Peru. The most fascinating part of this drink, however, is how it is prepared. Traditionally, chicha de jora is made by chewing up corn kernels, spitting them out, allowing this chewed mixture to ferment, and then finally straining the resulting drink. This process was originally discovered by the ancient Inca who learned that saliva could be used to turn their most abundant crop of corn into a fermented beverage. In modern times, malted barley is usually used in exchange for saliva for sanitary purposes, and a non-alcoholic version, “Chicha morada” has become a popular alternative.
Article Sources: https://roaring.earth/tarantulas-are-a-cambodian-delicacy/ https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/cooking-and-eating-tarantula-spiders-cambodia/index.html https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/jellied-moose-nose https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2016/mar/10/shark-fin-soup-a-dangerous-delicacy-for-humans-and-sharks-alike https://theculturetrip.com/asia/china/articles/a-brief-history-of-shark-fin-soup/ https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/gooseneck-barnacles https://www.sunnysidecircus.com/countries/peru/food-drinks-peru/chicha-traditional-corn-beer/ https://u.osu.edu/chicha/sample-page/
As a native resident of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, I am fortunate to live in an area of diversity, full of different music, religions, food, languages, and more that reveal many wonderful cultures. One of my favorite aspects of Houston is Chinatown which happens to be walking distance from my school. Although, I go there quite often for afternoon snacks, I realized that I did not know a lot about the history and evolution of Chinatown. After doing some research I found out more about some of the key influences in Houston.
The first Chinese in Houston arrived in 1870 as laborers working in laundries and on the transcontinental railroad. After World War II more Chinese migrated to Houston in search of jobs and economic opportunity. However, Houston’s large Chinese population did not develop until during the 1950s, during which the growth of Chinese immigrants boomed, in part due to the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 and the Chinese Communist Revolution, which caused turmoil in China. Despite increasing population, Chinese people had difficulty in achieving economic success due to racial discrimination. However, Houstonians soon began to appreciate the economic benefits of Chinese immigrants and became more receptive to their presence. By 1983 the Chinese population had reached about 30,000 people, and they began establishing their businesses in what is today Chinatown. They have contributed to the Houston culture by introducing Chinese cuisine, language, art, music, and celebrations. Chinatown is now a large area of Houston, offering restaurants, grocery stores, banks, spas, and tea houses.
I love exploring new restaurants in China town and discovering new, delicious food. By frequenting Chinese-owned businesses, I have the opportunity to expand my cultural knowledge, learn more about the people in my city, and experience new cuisines. I have come to love foods such as dim sum, boba tea, and bubble waffles. Furthermore, I enjoy shopping in Chinese grocery stores to bring home ingredients to make recipes to introduce my family to the delicious Chinese cuisine. By being open and willing to learn about other cuisines and cultures, I have been able to experience the bounties Chinatown is able to offer. I believe it is important for people to step out of their comfort zone and discover areas like Chinatown in their own community in order to gain knowledge and experience the wonders of different cultures.
There’s an old proverb that says imitation is the highest form of flattery. But is it really? Emulating styles, traditions, clothing, and even hairstyles from other cultures has become popularized in modern times. However, this imitation can cross some serious lines. This is where the term cultural appropriation comes into play.
What is cultural appropriation? The Oxford Languages Dictionary defines it as “the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society”. Basically, cultural appropriation is when people of another culture “borrow” practices from another culture, typically for the sake of popular trends in the media. Cultural appropriation comes in many forms. Some of the largest forms of cultural appropriation occur in the fashion, social media, pop culture, or art industries. While copying a hairstyle or item of clothing may not seem like a big deal, the use of cultural items outside of the original culture can be highly offensive to the members of the original culture. This is typically because when members of a more dominant culture utilize practices from a minority culture, the practice in question tends to lose its historical and cultural significance. For example, cornrow hairstyles are traditionally worn by mostly Black cultures, as the hairstyle originated in Africa in around 3000 B.C. In some African countries, warriors and kings were once identified by their cornrows. Additionally, cornrows are seen not only as a hairstyle, but also as an art form. Many different patterns and appearances can be achieved by a skilled cornrow braider. This is just the beginning of the cultural roots of cornrows- yet all of this historical significance gets stripped away when Caucasian pop culture icons such as Kim Kardashian start wearing this hairstyle. When cultural background gets forgotten, cornrows go from being a significant cultural tradition to just another hairstyle, hence the issue with cultural appropriation. Some instances of cultural appropriation are condemned for other reasons- a disrespectful or scandalous usage of a cultural practice will be quick to offend members of that culture, while others find issue with the use of sacred traditions as a media or fashion trend. In other cases, individuals become offended when items from their culture are considered “abnormal” or “ugly” when worn by members of their own culture, but quickly become popular when a celebrity decided to wear the very same item. Sometimes, even the members of a culture themselves do not agree on what is offensive and what is acceptable in terms of cultural appropriation. Regardless of the cause for offense, it is clear that cultural appropriation is a significant issue in the world today.
So now that you know what cultural appropriation is, how can you spot it? Below is a collection of 10 of some of the most blatant examples of cultural appropriation that have occurred recently in the real world:
1. Karlie Kloss, a Victoria’s Secret model, wore Native American-style jewelry and headdresses, greatly offending members of the Native American community
2. Fashion retailer Shein sold Islamic prayer mats under labels of “fringed Greek rugs”
3. Ariana Grande has used Japaneses characters on her merchandise, and even got a tattoo of these characters, despite the fact that she herself is not Japanese
4. Gucci dressed all Caucasian models in Sikh-style turbans for a runway show
5. Beyonce dressed in traditional Indian clothing with Henna art on her arms in a music video in 2016
6. At the American Music Awards in 2013, Katy Perry performed with traditional Japanese clothing, hairstyle, and makeup
7. “Fox-eye” makeup (makeup specifically applied to give the illusion of lifted or upwards-slanting eyes and brows) has been popularized by many celebrities, social media icons, and even average people on social media apps such as TikTok; however, Asian cultures find offense with the depiction of what is stereotypically seen as the “Asian eye”.
8. “Black-face” or “Blaccents” have been used by many Caucasian celebrities generally for the sake of social media trends, comedy, rapping, or acting purposes.
9. Selena Gomez wore a Hindu bindi, which is a sacred religious symbol of that culture, on her forehead during a 2017 performance
10. Several restaurants and food brands market their food as “authentic” or “ethnic”, despite hugely altering the traditional preparation method, ingredients, or flavors of the original dish
While the instances above were offensive to the corresponding cultures due to cultural appropriation, you CAN still appreciate a culture without appropriating it. Following these tips from The Atlantic can help ensure that cultural appropriation is kept in check:
- It’s Important to Pay Homage to Artistry and Ideas, and Acknowledge Their Origins
- Don’t Adopt Sacred Artifacts as Accessories
- Engage With Other Cultures on More Than an Aesthetic Level
- Treat a Cultural Exchange Like Any Other Creative Collaboration—Give Credit, and Consider Royalties
Enjoying food, art, or music from another culture is perfectly okay, and even beneficial towards understanding the traditions of other cultures, as long as it is done so with respect and kindness towards the other culture.
Movies and Documentaries are excellent vehicles for studying anthropology, and the use of film to study humanity has greatly increased with the rise in technology. By helping people visualize events, films can provide new perspectives on the culture and lifestyle of people. Contrary to written publications, films tend to be more captivating towards audiences and can be integral in understanding anthropology. Films allow anthropologists to capture what words cannot and to portray their findings in clear manner that can be comprehended by lay people. Additionally, films provide anthropologists to extend their findings to greater populations and foster visualization of anthropological findings. Anthropologists generally strive to maintain verity in their works, and this is augmented by the Rules for Film Documentation in Ethnology and Folklore that ensure authenticity. Through film, anthropologists have been able to relay further understanding of different cultures and societies since it allows people to study and analyze human life as it freely and naturally occurs. It is more open and inclusive than literary works, leaving the audience to their own interpretation. Overall, film is an effective way to impart elements of culture in a clear, widespread, and objective manner.
Here are some examples anthropological documentaries that are educational and interesting:
Arctic– Bruce Parry visits native and modern people who live under Arctic conditions in Siberia, Greenland, Alaska, Canada, Nordic Russia, Norwegian Lapland and Spitzbergen. He shares for one summer and considers the locals’ natural hardship, economic and conservation prospects, including the effects of modernization and global warming.
My Year with the Tribe- Explorer and writer Will Millard visits the Korowai tribe in Papua over the course of a year, in an attempt to understand the pressures they face adapting to a modern world they have only come into contract with within the last 40 years.
Amazon Souls- British Explorer, Sarah Begum follows her childhood dream at the age of 21, travelling deep into the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest to live with the legendary Huaorani tribe and immerse in their ancient way of life. Sarah hunts and gathers with warriors, captures their stories and struggles whilst investigating into the impacts of modernity on their culture. Through a defining challenge, she becomes one of the tribe to send their message about protecting their land from exploitation.
Human- A collection of stories about and images of our world, offering an immersion to the core of what it means to be human
Bush League- A character driven ethnographic survey of a tiny village in Northern Malawi. Intimate dramas unfold in the lives of four villagers who are all members of the local soccer team.
Babies- A look at one year in the life of four babies from around the word, from Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo.
Documentary Source- https://www.imdb.com/list/ls024232376/
Mexican folk dance is a symbol of Mexican culture in the United States and throughout Mexico. Mexican folk dance portrays Mexican heritage and the history of certain regions in Mexico. Although there are aspects of Mexican culture such as the art, food, and music that is well known, folklorico dance is often unrecognized. Since there are so many adaptations and evolutions of Mexican folk dance, it can be hard to grasp the ethnic and national identity of this dance style. In her article “Social and Political Dimensions of Folklorico Dance,” Olga Najara Ramirez explores the political, historical, and social aspect of Mexican folk dance.
Ramirez initiates her discussion of Mexican folk dance by analyzing the historical background of Mexican development, in order to understand the factors that have shaped folklorico tradition. Dance had always been an important aspect in the lives of the indigenous people of Mexico, but with the Era of Exploration and arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico, Spanish influence became incorporated into preexisting dance. The indigenous peoples utilized dancing for religious purposes and entertainment, but with the influence of the Spanish, new styles such as polka, waltz, and habanera dominated. The influence of Europeans largely shaped Mexican folk dances. Another factor that contributed to folk dance was the romantic nationalist movement in Mexico, in which folklore became a way to demonstrate national identity as a collective symbol of their culture. Folklore became a way to show the diversity of Mexico, celebrate their ancestors, and show their national strength and uniqueness. As a part of this movement, the Mexican Government began teaching folk dance in schools as a way to show Mexican diversity and patriotism.
Folk dancing was first spread through Mexico through bands of “carpas” spreading Mexican pride and political interests. Soon more companies followed suit, using folklorico to attract tourists and celebrate Mexican culture. One of the most famous companies is Ballet Folklorico. Their objective was to spread Mexican dancing, preserving the historic roots of folklore and traditions. Ballet Folklorico toured all over the world, spread Mexican folklore and stimulating the Mexican economy by creating a display for tourists. These groups typically strived to conserve Mexican culture while catering to their respective audiences.
Mexican folk dance was brought to the United States through these “carpas” in the 1920s and was sometimes taught in schools. However, the story behind this dancing was not seen as a portrayal of the beautiful Mexican culture and identity, but rather as mere entertainment. Mexican folk dance was largely undermined in the United States, and the pressure of assimilation cause the denaturing of traditional cultural values. However, in the 1960s, folk dancing reignited in the United States. Mexicans had often been subject to discrimination and stereotyping, and they utilized traditional folklorico as a way to oppose subjugation and cultural assimilation. Similarly to the nationalist movement in Mexico, folklore became a way for Mexican-Americans to show their strength and pride. Folklore was catalyst for social change, decreasing stereotypes of Mexicans. They began performing as way to preserve Mexican culture, but also as a means of gaining better access to job and education opportunities.
Overall, folklore in Mexico was originally instigated by the government to instill National identity, but in the United States it became a way to show cultural pride. Furthermore, folklore in Mexico was a way to honor the history and past indigenous people, whereas in the United States it was rebellion against assimilation efforts. Folklore has played a key role in politically and socially and has served as a means of connecting different cultures and fostering relationships.