Summary and reflection

Posted by: | February 23, 2009 | Comments Off on Summary and reflection

So far in this course, we have talked about many different aspects of Latin American culture. The first thing we discussed was the nature of culture. We found that culture does not fit into a nice little box; nor can it be defined in a straightforward manner. The consensus that was reached through discussion was that culture is constantly evolving, and is to an extent shaped by outside influences.
We also talked about the role of the general masses in the shaping of culture, as well as the influences of cultures upon one another. The article by William and Schelling contained examples of aspects of European cultures influencing aspects of Latin American cultures, as well as examples of Latin American cultures influencing European cultures. Personally, I found this to be especially interesting, since in the past I had only given superficial thought to the links between various cultures. For me, this article in particular drove home the point that was made in the beginning of the class, that culture is ever-changing.
Other examples of readings that I enjoyed were the indigenous legends written by Asturias, and the Pongo’s Dream . The legends all carried a passion and rawness of emotion that I equate (maybe naively?) with the indigenous civilizations; while I was reading them I kept thinking about the ancient civilizations- human sacrifices and gory games of something related to soccer. In general, I found the legends to be interesting, although I had to read them through several times in order to understand them (semi) completely.
On the other hand, I only had to read The Pongo’s Dream once; coupled with the fact that it was only 3 or 4 pages, it has by far been my favourite reading of the term. All joking aside (!), I think that this short story by Arguedas gives a particularly poignant picture of the life led by the indigenous people of Latin America under their self proclaimed masters. It also resulted in what I thought was a good discussion, with several different interpretations being introduced to the class, as well a discussion about the introduction of Catholicism to Latin America.
One of the last readings was La Raza Cosmica, which also led to some passionate debates. My general impression was that the author was slightly nuts, but the reading was valuable in a purely academic way.
In regards to the rest of the term, I don’t think I would want any drastic changes; maybe a little more time for class discussions, and slightly more focus on modern popular culture, but that is about it.


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