First Half Reflections

Posted by: | February 24, 2009 | Comments Off on First Half Reflections

Upon reflection of the first half of the semester I am overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge in the classroom. After years of being a student, I have come to realize that in many cases I absorb the most knowledge just simply from listening to my classmates speak. This class is certainly no different as there is an immense amount of information being conveyed through our class discussions and I am very much enjoying it. I guess the main concept of the first half has been “What is culture?”. The Williams and Keesing articles provided examples of Culture both as a journey and similar to a coral reef. The journey symbolizes how culture is never stagnant and continues to morph and evolve and the Coral Reef references how culture constantly changes and acquires deposits but there is no specific pattern for that change as it grows, similar to a Coral Reef. After reading these two essays, I was left with a strong sense that culture is very much ordinary…its the clothes we wear, the cafes we go to, and all these other very mundane aspects of life. Once I grasped the basic concept of Culture as flowing and ever evolving, I was able to tackle all the other readings with this basic pillar in mind.

I wont recap every single reading but I will highlight by far my favorite. Eva Peron’s “my message” was in my opinion a beautifully written piece that had me captivated from start to finish. There is no question that was influenced by the fact that Evita’s story is so popular internationally, but I definitely enjoyed the way in which she documents her journey from her poor upbringing to her rise among Argentina’s elite. A controversial figure no doubt, but an extremely powerful symbol of the people and culture of not only Argentina, but of all Latin America.
My second favorite reading was the tiny short story “The Pongo’s Dream” by Jose Maria Arguedas. I know I am not the only one in class who liked this story as it has it all from struggle to redemption as Pongo gets the last laugh after a life of hardship and slavery. While the Master has had the power in the first life, Pongo will be liberated in the after life while the Master will have to lick excrement until the end of time. This story not only gives us a window into what early twentieth century life in Peru was like, but also leaves the reader with a surprise ending to an enjoyable Folk Legend.
In all this class has been enjoyable thus far, I would definitely consider myself as somewhat lacking with regards to my knowledge in Latin American history, but I am trying to be like a sponge right now and absorb as much information as I can from both the readings and the class discussions. The vivid descriptions in the readings have caused me to want to visit these places sometime in my lifetime for sure, especially Peru! Look forward to a fun second half.


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