K. Bird – Week 7 – Final Reflections

The main thing I have learned because of this class from all of the lectures, readings, and other’s blog posts would be how much of my culture I take for granted and think is universal, when all of it is actually very specific to where I come from and how I was raised. From how I view kinship to the adoption of cultures that I never noticed.

Structures of differences were a large part of what we learned in this class. Because culture is socially created, certain aspects will always vary depending on the conditions of the people. In week 4, we learned about different styles of kinship that exist throughout the world and different time periods. An example given was how certain tribes viewed anyone within the tribe as family and that in-marriage, or endogamy, would be considered incest. So these tribes were required to marry outside tribes. This exogamy system helped expand their influence and culture, but is very different than marriage traditions in America. In America, there is less societal pressure on who to marry. In addition, just as with the tribes, incest is still taboo but the definition is different. Kinship is seen as shared blood rather than tribe or group, so incest is only considered between blood relatives.

For week 5, the video “Pig Tusks and Paper Money” showed just how extreme systems of money can differ. Henry wanted to make a bank for the informal currency of shells but the government did not want to accept it. For Henry and his community, shells were the everyday currency used for pretty much everything besides transit. This difference in systems of what is accepted as currency caused a lot of trouble for Henry and his dream of making a bank for his currency.

From week 6, the closest to home difference in systems for me was the adoption of sushi in America. Sushi was largely suppressed from American media because of the differences in perspectives on food. In America at the time, raw fish, largely tuna, was seen as undesirable and dirty. The media thought no one would go for such a dish. In contrast, sushi in Japan even to this day is seen as almost sacred. Eventually the system changes which allows this large boost in sushi restaurants to occur.


17 thoughts on “K. Bird – Week 7 – Final Reflections

  1. I agree with you that we indeed take our cultures for granted. For me my ethnicity is from India, but even with that background, I do not consider all of the other traditions and customs of the world. Kinship and the various marriage styles are pretty unique as well. I thought it was only that you get married to one person and that’s it, but all the other rules and specifics of various cultures really opened my eyes. it was interesting to see that people used pig tusks and shells to trade for goods and was used as a replacement for paper money. For those people it was a normal currency exchange, but for other groups it may seem odd. The sushi example was unique as it showed how globalization really took charge. Globalization has spread through the world like wildfire and we are still learning about different and new cultures every day.

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