we can talk & write about culture ~ but essentially it is in and around us

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on we can talk & write about culture ~ but essentially it is in and around us

Keesing suggests in his article that culture and cultural ought to be re-conceptualized, as to incorporate the essentials of a more holistic representation of society (beyond the specificities that might become solely exotic in the approach from an ethnographer’s voyage to a distant village for example) so to enable the social theorists to analyze the production of knowledge, ideological forces, peculiarities of community structure and tradition, and the interconnectedness to other global tendencies. A critique to the radical alterity quest in anthropological studies is acceptable in cases in which subjects and peoples are undermined or culturally stereotyped but this is actually not the feeling I get from recent ethnographies I have read such as Tsing 2004 about forest conservation in Indonesia. Also, there is a value in ethnographic approach to cultural studies that holds uniqueness in methodology that differentiates, in my opinion, anthropology from other social sciences. Hence, ethnographic research proposes this approach from the everyday lives characteristics and description of experiences of cultural immersion based on extensive use of interviews and so forth.

The tendency for the social sciences to assimilate from each other is evident in the use of notions of place and space in cultural anthropology. However, the discourse on what is that culture means might blur the very notion that culture is alive and basically inseparable from human nature. I find specifically interesting the reference to the tendency for anthropology to draw from cognitive science and languages, merging concepts that explain the intrinsic relationship between the body and mind in creating what we experience and think as culture.

The approach Williams take to the discussion of culture differs from the representations in social sciences presented by Keesing. Williams is more preoccupied not so much to how we define and think of culture but the way in which culture corresponds to our realities and our imagined conceptions of ideals to our society. I find interesting the discussion on how the educated elite tries to create an exclusionary result by ascribing high culture to the concept of culture. The nature of the post-industrial British society obscured the common qualities and moral values still existent in the countryside, creating the urban exclusions that distinct the social common from the cultural. The paradigm lays in how the capitalist society controls the means that produce culture and assesses an identity of mass representations. The interest and financial investment that is concentrated in advertisement and consumption outcomes the common education.

It is something to let expand in our minds: how the society we live in creates individualistic values that make humans, who are fully capable of understanding the basic notion of democracy, to be passive in face of so much contradiction in even the most ordinary things.


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