Bare Necessities: Cultural Studies

>> Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What the heck am I talking about? Cultural Studies? That's not a public school class!

No, but it ought to be. Sure, some social studies classes include some cultural information, usually wedged in between GDP information, population and interminable maps. Sometimes you accidentally get a little in Political Science classes, but the classes are more about government than about people and, generally, they are not interchangeable. You're more likely to get interesting cultural information in history or a foreign language class and that's a real pity.

Exposing oneself the history, the culture, the religion, the language, the music, the art of other societies and cultures of the world can do wonders for one's own mind. When you understand where attitudes and philosophies come from, if you understand the history and culture of a people, it's much harder to dehumanize them or get lost in hatred.

Travel is good for that, too, and, though I'm not a traveller myself, I respect those who learn other cultures by immersing themselves.

The thing is, isolated in your own little world, the culture and society you grew up with, it's so easy to think you know everything, that you can judge and dismiss the challenges, the problems, the successes of other societies. You get arrogant and close-minded. That's bad.

Not just for people in other societies, who will undoubtedly find your arrogance irksome and counterproductive for cooperation. But also for you and your future. Arrogance and conceit are a recipe for stagnation, fine if you don't mind ending up like the Romans, but stupid for any culture that wants to continue to mature.

Just sayin'.


  • The Mother

    I'm not sure arrogance and conceit had as much to do with the decline and fall of the Roman empire as just being totally overextended did (and of course, Gibbons lays the blame squarely on Christianity).

    But I do agree that appreciation for other cultures is absolutely required. The image of the ugly American who wants to be able to get a hamburger and speak English everywhere still haunts this country.

  • Jeff King

    your right, thats why i watch "anthony bourdain no reservation" on travel channel. great insight into many dif cultures, i love that show.

    it will take a life time just to do that in the USA.
    my goal before i die, is to visit every state. hopefully that happens when i retire and i live long enough.

Post a Comment


Blog Makeover by LadyJava Creations