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    culture as an object? as a process?

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    Rowe and Schelling’s article, The Faces of Popular Culture does a remarkable job of communicating just how much the development of culture is a process. In some instances it seems that what functions as popular culture does so as a result of hybridization of syncretism. The popularity of a number of cultural elements seems to be increasing in terms of how ideas and information can be exchanged between various sources. These included the rural and urban, literate and illiterate, indigenous and European, and modern and traditional. This is to say that these systems are not highly bounded, but the opposite. What seems to have contributed to the formation of certain forms of popular culture in Latin America is the way in which the modern and traditional or indigenous and European have been able to appropriate elements from each other in the formation of new, and more inclusive cultural elements. In their discussion of resistance and conformity they caution us that, “It is risky to let them become an exclusive paradigm” (105). This idea of exclusivity directly contradicts the idea of transculturation and the multi-directional exchange of ideas from different systems of thought.
    Mass media play a huge role in the dispersal of popular culture, or any culture and can often be considered the “make it, or break it” element of something’s popularity. Both contemporarily and historically media and technological improvements have had compelling effects on culture. With the rise of the record and recording industry the spread of music and certain up and coming genres is possible. The printing press, though originally a “toy” of the elite enabled the spread of ideas. Computers and the internet have served to increasingly shrink the proverbial size of our ever expanding media and cultural world. Much of Rowe and Schelling’s article deals with elements that can be considered media, and through their appropriation by “the people” they become traffic on the mass media highway. Traveling along this highway is a process that often alters them from their state at the beginning of the journey. This process of cultural articulation is an interesting area of study.

    Who are “the people” ???

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    Eva Peron’s discussion of “the people” is confusing, particular, exacting and seemingly un-populated. If she claims that her Argentina, in its true essence, is the people then perhaps she should have been more inclusive. Whatever the case may be, this term “the people” is ambiguous to me. Having read the Borges paper as well I feel the term is even more arbitrary. It seems through his narrative in “everyday” lingo he is appealing to the very same people as Eva Perón, or even writing as one of the descamisados.
    Perón writes problematically about women in that she is constructing a very particular and specific Argentine woman. While she may claim to be appealing to the people, and their inherent humanity, she seems to be doing so on very exacting terms. She has a highly politicized sense of who the people are. Using her relationship with her husband Juan as a sort of basis for her loyalty and character, she calls for similar outpourings of loyalty and feeling from Argentinians, and the world. Women, according to Eva are to be highly sentient, humble, modest, protectors to men, encouragers, companions to men, students to men, and “like a bouquet of flowers in [their] house” (Perón, 1996: 54). She contrasts these women of the people with men and it seems that men are the calculating thinkers, and women are the emotional hearts.
    Borges’ Celebration of the Monster was an appealing read, despite being confused as to who The Monster was. Stylistically it might be considered stream of consciousness, which appeals in that it mimics human thought processes. As to what he is trying to construct about the people, a lot of everyday elements are included. Struggles with other people, protesting a dictator, being tired and about making ones own luck. I get the feeling from this piece that the protagonist is a protester, but can still be considered one of the “people,” despite his distaste for The Monster (who I assume to be Juan Perón). Reading Eva’s piece prior to this one in her calls to the people to be fanatical, supportive of her husband, workers, his surrogate family when she is gone, and overall full of heart could be a contrast to the character in Borges’ piece. Not being many of these things the protagonist of Borges’ piece certainly seems to be one of “the people” despite this lack. Perhaps that is why Eva Perón’s piece was upsetting. She does not include any space for “the people” to question their roles, contradict he husbands ideals, communicate with the government (except through herself as a conduit to the government), or protest. Perón writes more idealistically of “the people” while Borges seems to represent “the people” more realistically with his main character.

    Is Culture Ordinary?

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    It is interesting to see the connection between the Williams and Keesing articles in how they incorporate “culture” into broader, accessible processes of experience, understanding, learning, reciprocity and creativity. It seems that both are trying to communicate that no “culture” or society can operate isolated or outside of everything in the world. They do however display some differences in their approach to the concept of culture. Reading these articles it seems so obvious that cultural development and what is considered authentic culture would have to undergo various expressions of evolution, and can be involved in a reciprocal process of information exchange.
    Williams, in his discussion clarifies that segments of a society or nation, despite their treatment by society’s members, can not be excluded from that culture or nation if they are present. His article was somewhat problematic to me in how he utilized somewhat general or blanket statements. Things like a “good common culture,” or “the product of a whole people” are phrases that seem to act in somewhat exclusive manners, isolating certain groups or essentialize others. What exactly is a “common culture?” And what are the products of a whole people?” He elaborates on ideas of culture only being thought of in certain ways and is effective in arguing that many different types of people and expressions of their cultural ideas comprise “common culture.”
    Williams seems to be making some assumptions about what is desired in a society, and what are desired improvements. Doing so casts him into a somewhat colonial dichotomy of the primitive versus the civilized, for example. He seems to want to see social cohesion, and the acceptance of a common culture. It is problematic to me to see how he would engage and include differing religious beliefs, educational imperatives, marriage practices, and political values in the society the seems to be espousing.
    I was encouraged to read his opinions on relevance in education because it seems to directly relate to university life now. The “old boys club” of traditional education relies on, what I think is, an outdated, sometimes irrelevant group of theories and perspectives. Requesting that current education reflect what is relevant seems an obvious choice, however the persistence of certain archaic ways of doing things persists.
    Keesing’s article on theories of culture was interesting in how it appropriated post-structuralist/postmodern theories of culture as ideals. Also his discussion of how these theories are still informed by more modernist ideas of alterity and dichotomy fit well with Williams’ presentation of Marcus and Fischer’s idea of a cultural evolution. No group, idea or society can act outside or isolated from other with which it interacts. “Cultural situations are always in flux, and cultures are always in a state of resistance and accommodation to broader processes of influence” (Marcus and Fischer, 1986: 78).
    The optimistic, unrealistic side of my psyche gravitates to Keesings request that academic disciplines can learn from each other, and reciprocally interact and influence each other positively. Being able to understand how commodities, power structures, and history affect our understanding of the cultural would mean a better academic world overall.

    Hello world!

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    Hey LAST 201….I’m technologically challenged, and definitely not as Canadian as Kirran (sp?) but glad to be in a class where I can laugh.  Refreshing…Hope this blogging thing goes well.  Uhh…over and out.

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