Posted by: | January 18, 2009 | Comments Off on Keesing

I had a little technical difficulty with posting the first week’s responses so I had to break the two articles up this week. In response to the Keesing article, I agree with the theme of his argument that “culture” is very complex and cannot be concept…

span404-What is Culture? Williams

Posted by: | January 17, 2009 | Comments Off on span404-What is Culture? Williams

Williams- “A culture is common meanings, the product of a whole people, and offered individual meanings, the product of a man’s whole committed personal and social experience” (Williams, Pg. 15). Williams argues that culture is indeed very ordinary due…

What is culture?

Posted by: | January 15, 2009 | Comments Off on What is culture?

I’d like to start off my saying that this is a couple days late because I accidentally made two separate blogs and posted my first response there, anyway here it is in the right place.I began the first reading by Williams with much enthusiasm and enjoy…

Reply to Andrea Azcona’s entry on Culture

Posted by: | January 14, 2009 | Comments Off on Reply to Andrea Azcona’s entry on Culture

Hey there, I could not agree with you more with regards to the branding of culture as either good or bad. I think that if we assume that scholars or elites to decide what culture is. I mean, when the European colonial powers went into the Americas (specially the Spaniards) they decided that much/must of […]

What is culture?

Posted by: | January 14, 2009 | Comments Off on What is culture?

I think the term culture is multidimensional. As Roger M. Keesing explains, the first meaning of a culture is a human construction based on the emphasis of a radical alterity. Thus, culture is regarded as an entity which acts behalf on the community it represents. This raises an important issue : Is a culture a […]

What is culture?

Posted by: | January 14, 2009 | Comments Off on What is culture?

Well as I started to read both articles, I was quite into them, wondering what each author was trying to get at.  Of course I had set aside a couple hours to do the lengthy readings and was excited about writing my first blog.  About halfway through the first article my cell phone rang and it was my mom on the call display.  I thought it was a little strange as it was in the middle of the afternoon and she should have been at work. 
Her tone seemed fine but I knew something was wrong.  She preceeded to tell me there had been a death in the family, a close family friend and all of a sudden the details of the freak accident were all my mind could contain.  As I hung up the phone with her, I tried to continue reading and realized that there was no way I could even begin to read about culture or to even write about it when someone\s life close to me was literally falling apart.  I decided to put the readings down and focus on my family and the loss it has had.
That is the reason I have no culture blog up here and why I won’t be commenting on any of my classmates blogs for this week.  I will continue with the readings next week and know that everyone will understand my situation.
Just a quick note that we should all cherish every moment we have with the people we love as noone knows when our time will be up.  Sorry for that somewhat depressing last comment….but it’s so true.

Week 1 Readings

Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on Week 1 Readings

Week 1 Readings

The reading “Culture is Ordinary” centralizes around the idea that culture originates from ordinary people. Often culture is associated with the elite of a population, as they are the main producers and consumers of arts and knowledge. However, it is obvious that that there is a kind of “working class” culture that has emerged, that is quite different from the typical idea of refined, luxurious, high-class culture. Williams brings up an interesting point that often the makers of art have a hostile view towards the elite, making their consumption of the art somewhat ironic. The article goes into great detail about the Marist take on culture, stressing that “culture is interpreted in relation to its underlying system of production”, that his English society was a “class dominated culture”, just as Marxist thought states. I find these two things very interesting, because you at first thought I would not think that a system of production would have very much to do with culture. But when looking at a modern culture, such as the United States, one can see that the constant production and flow of goods, and their wide availability and marketing, are all directly tied to the consumerist aspect of American culture. Also, I found interesting the statement that only the “deserving poor get much educational opportunity” in relation to his earlier Marxist statement about the bourgeoisie being the dominant class in a class dominated culture. I had not really thought about this, but after reading this I find it especially true. The rich can buy their education, with not much regard to whether they are actually “deserving” of it or not. There are requirements to be able to attend educational institutions, but in many cases it is money that is the determining factor in one’s acceptance. For a poor individual to receive an education such as the one that members of the elite receive, he must do extra work in order to excel academically, athletically, etc.

I am not sure I really agree with Williams talk about “bad culture”. When talks of the “cheap feelings and moronic arguments” shown in popular culture are a “deeply degrading version of the actual lives of our contemporaries”. I understand where he is coming from, as anyone can see that much of our modern culture is, as he says, vulgar. But on the other hand I don’t really agree with his immediate branding of this culture as “bad”, just because it is new and not produced by the upper class. Perhaps I am not fully grasping his argument, but his label of modern culture as “vulgar” seems to be a little pretentious.

Keesing’s article talks about the way we stress the differences between cultures while analyzing them. I found it interesting how Keesing explained how the focus on cultural difference is a search for the exotic. One can see this everywhere: when tourists travel to tropical places, when people dress in the style of a different country, when people take dance lessons, etc. These are pretty trivial searches for alternative expressions and experiences, but it they are everyday examples of the “search for the exotic” that Keesing speaks of.

I also really liked how the article brings up the irony of the fact that it is fashionable to be different in a globalized world, where boundaries between cultures are vanishing. Not so long ago, distinct cultures where shrouded in mystery due to lack of contact between them. Now that much of this mystery has disappeared, and a kind of global culture is emerging, people have decided they want to stand out from the crowd, either individually or by uniting their people to show they have a strong, vibrant culture.

Both these articles were quite interesting, but a little hard to grasp the main concepts. They both taught me a lot about the production, reproduction and consumption of culture that I had not thought about before.


Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on Culture

These readings offered a unique perspective on what “culture” truly is. It is a difficult concept to grasp, especially as a Canadian living in a multi-”cultural” society. With such a vast mix of characteristics in all Canadians, how can we pick out certain elements to classify our culture with? Especially with the wealth of North America, and all the examples […]

What is culture?

Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on What is culture?

Today I like write in spanish, In the class are some people who would like practice it, so I think it´s a good idea…Definir qué es cultura es algo que pareciera muy complicado ya que el término ha ido variando con el paso de los años, tal es el c…

And I thought I knew culture…

Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on And I thought I knew culture…

And I thought I knew culture…

After the first reading of the term, I find myself more confused than before. When reading “Culture is Ordinary” I realized that there are a whole bunch of implications when one refers to culture that I had never taken into consideration. I like that he starts by arguing that a […]

Cultural Eccentricities

Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on Cultural Eccentricities

Williams’ article proved to be a challenge for me, primarily because I found my interest waning as my reading progressed. At first, the links between all the descriptive imagery and his argument of culture being ordinary seemed to be juxtapositions; …

Making sense of ‘culture’

Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on Making sense of ‘culture’

I found both articles that we read this week both challenging and insightful. The first was confusing for me to follow, but nonetheless, offered an interesting outlook of culture that seemed very relevant to our discussion in class last week. I did fin…

What is Culture?

Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on What is Culture?

Trying to define culture can be a very hard task because I guess nobody really knows what it is. Everybody has a different definition for culture and so to come up with a precise definition of culture would be someting very difficult. From the first re…

Is Culture Ordinary?

Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on Is Culture Ordinary?

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 […]

What is culture?

Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on What is culture?

Over the recent years, my initial perspective of culture has been altered gradually by the many views of it I’ve encountered. Now a days, I believe that culture is simply something so characteristic that you can safely pin point to a certain place…

What is culture?

Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on What is culture?

The main statement of Williams’ article relies on the sentence ‘culture is ordinary’. Saying that, the author means that culture is produced, constructed, influenced, transformed and carried by ordinary people. In order to support and explain his i…

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 eth…

Culture What?

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on Culture What?

As a couple of individuals said before I found it hard to understand Williams journal entry, he word choice in describing the struggles he had with self identity in Cambridge are a little too much. I did however understand the overall message which the title clearly stated. The typical views on culture are somewhat wrong, especially those which ethnocentrism is based upon. I connected well with Raymond Williams when he makes points about how culture is whatever you make of it, because every little community, in every city or town, in every country has its own unique culture. At times Williams lost me when he had to go into intense detail about describing how Marxists view people  and culture. Which he then goes on to argue are wrong and somewhat ignorant to what Industrialism has created for the majority of the world in terms of revolutionizing Culture.

                Roger M. Keesing journal essay was much more complex, which I found much more interesting. He give some excellent metaphors for how to look at culture and the way culture has been shaped. The comparison of culture to a coral reef was especially well written, because it explained how cultures are a accumulation of past events and acts that have created a larger picture of identity. Keesing also writes about how the improper use of culture has been attributed to its colonial history. He states that when the first colonial powers conquered new lands they saw the peoples customs as a way to over generalize them and create a culture that was not unique to individuals. I also enjoyed his little discussion about his friend from the Kwaio, because it was a great example to show how diverse cultures still are in the world. It also showed how like Keesing states later on that some cultures will always have a ability to go against traditional views and still manage to make an individual fulfilled in his life despite how insignificant it may be.

                Both these papers gave me a better understanding of culture, and showed me how culture is very dependent on what you make of it. It can be any type of small ritual/custom that is performed by an individual or a group of people. Which in turn made me think of what my own culture was?

What is culture?

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on What is culture?

A fairly standard definition of culture is something along the lines of ‘a system of symbols and meanings that lack fixed boundaries, are constantly in flux, and interact and compete with one another.’ When the majority of people use the term

Week 1

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on Week 1

Of the two readings for thias week, I have to say I prefer the earlier one by Raymond Williams. The basic idea that “culture is ordinary” is nothing new to me by itself, but Williams presents some arguments along the way that I found very interesting….

LAST 201

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on LAST 201

What is Culture?01/12/09 Throughout the readings, Williams and Keesing provide insight into the definition of culture and how scholars perceive its function in society. Williams’ title “Culture is Ordinary” reflects his viewpoint of culture as a…


Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on CONCEPTION OF CULTURE

What is culture?After reading the articles for several times, I concluded that the authors were trying to define culture. I used to have my own definition of culture, then I arrived to this class and everything changed. For me, culture was a systematic…

L.A.S.T 201 (Week One- What is Culture?)

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on L.A.S.T 201 (Week One- What is Culture?)

This weeks reading topic of  what is culture?  has opened my eyes to  different perspectives on culture and the ways and styles of which they are formed and lived through.  I found the readings both by Raymond Williams and Roger Kessing to be ver…

What is Culture?

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on What is Culture?

After reading both Williams’ and Keesing’s articles on “culture”, I know have a better understanding of the ways we define, understand, and portray culture in the public realm.The first article by Raymond Williams was rather hard to follow. The main po…

annamarieke 2009-01-13 03:19:30

Posted by: | January 12, 2009 | Comments Off on annamarieke 2009-01-13 03:19:30


The first article describes culture as ordinary, in every society and in every mind. I found that the descriptions of social constructions and classes were similar in some ways to my own views. On page 16 the author, Raymond Williams describes how the community supported his dying father. I believe this exemplifies what he calls "the old society", one where you know who your neighbors are and watch out for them. The way many people live today in western culture seems to be drifting away from this close knit community. People now however live even closer together in apartment buildings but yet most never know the names of their neighbors. This leads into another point that I noted regarding the assumptions people make about the "masses". Judgments are made on those same neighbors based the television programs they watch, or the magazines they read, as well as the movies they rent and so on. People judge the "others" as being the ignorant, uneducated side of society without even meeting them or knowing anything about them. Williams goes on to say that his own father who read the Daily Herald gained much knowledge regardless of his level of training. One thing I noted in this part of the article was that unfortunately newspapers today are under no obligation to tell the truth. Many people don’t know that and take everything they read for the truth. People are misinformed and go on to misinform others. Williams describes how culture is created and changes and explains how it is not only for the elite group of people within the walls of a tea room.
The second article written by Roger Keesing defines radical alterity and cultural otherness. Anthropologist have a history of searching for the "other", exotic, different, radical, culture that is not their own. There is a constant over stating of difference that can be extremely harmful to the very group of people that is being studied. Binaries like old vs. new are used in describing "our" culture and "their" culture. This makes them seem very far away from us as well as very exotic and captivating. Unfortunately for the "them" in this situation, their culture is being exploited and if they were to evolve and change as most every culture does they in turn loose their so called "authenticity". Keesling states and I believe that these borders and boundaries that define different cultures and peoples are dissolving. As people become more aware of the unstable definitions of "Culture" itself, one begins to question more and more the studies that have been done, and the assumptions that are made regarding cultures different from their own. A person really has to think about the hidden agendas behind the articles they read. National Geographic for example is a popular magazine that often has two page spreads of men and women in tribal dress and articles regarding the most exotic and fascinating aspects of their lives, history and culture. Magazines like this want to catch the attention of their readers and ultimately make more money. In this way cultures are described to the world in exaggerated and exploitative ways.
Both of these articles examine the concept of "culture" and how a person is not born with it, for it is socially created and learned.

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