Posted by: | March 9, 2009 | Comments Off on Transculturation

The first reading from this week pertains specifically to Cuban culture and the elements that it consists of. The author uses the term transculturation to denote the mixing of various cultures and races which resulted in the evolution of every aspect of Cuban life; however, in his description he makes it clear that some of this mixing was violent and painful. I found this text to be a very interesting read, since it provided a more in-depth analysis of the cultural factors of a specific country. The text describes the different cultures that are represented in modern Cuban culture- two of the major influences were from Europe and Africa. These two regions which were key contributors to Cuban culture could not have been more different: on the one hand, the Europeans brought incredible new technologies, and in effect ushered in a new era. In contrast, the African influence arrived in the form of battered slaves who were torn from their homes and shipped across an ocean to serve European landowners. Like the native Cubans, the slaves were thrown into a culture that was entirely distinct from their own; however, in contrast to the European element, this was not their choice.
The author of the second text discusses indigenista literature, and brings up a very good point about the role that context plays in the interpretation of it. When a piece of literature is taken out of cultural and historical context, much of the meaning is lost. I believe he said this in regards to similarities between Latin American literature and European literature; the point he is making is that while there are necessarily similarities between them, Latin American literature has its own distinctions.
The third reading for this week was by Mark Millington, who referred back to Ortiz’s idea of transculturation from the first reading. One of Millington’s observations is that while many people overlook the “human dimension” of transculturation, Ortiz places the emphasis on “human beings as the bearers of culture and frequently as the victims of cultural change.” However, while Millington admires and agrees with some of what Ortiz says, he also feels that at times Ortiz’s text is confusing and “not wholly coherent”.
Overall, I found these readings to be very interesting; perhaps it was because they (especially the first one) dealt exclusively with one country and the processes which shaped the culture of that particular place.


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