After looking back at what we learned and read, one thing I noticed was how structures of differences was linked to multiple readings and films. In Lecture 2.1, we learn that people create boundaries between one another by constructing themselves on what they are “not”, and that societies are equally developed, yet they each develop strategies that work for them within their environment. These two ideas can be seen throughout each of the weeks.
In the film “To the Light: Chinese Miners” from week 5 they show how many of the poor and uneducated had to work in the harsh coal mines, in order to support their family and hopefully give their children a good education so they don’t have to experience coal mines. This relates to how societies develop strategies based on their own environment.
In week 6 during the film “Life and Debt” those from Jamaica envy people from the U.S. who come to Jamaica on vacation. This is because Americans are paying to come to a place where Jamaicans in poor areas desperately want to leave, but can’t because they don’t have enough money and have their entire life there. This leads to the thought of “us” and “them” since there is such a large difference between the two groups.
The reading “The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language” by Benjamin Whorf in week 3, Whorf describes multiple occasions where a fire related accident was caused by a difference of interpretation of words. In one scenario, a barrel was labeled “empty” causing someone to believe there is absolutely nothing in it. Yet in this case, “empty” is referring to that the original content (gasoline) was no longer present, yet flammable vapors remained. This type of misinterpretation can be caused by a difference in culture and background of what someone considers, and perceives “empty”.