DB: The aesthetics of architecture within a society not only reveal the communities interpretation of what is considered beautiful or pleasing in appearance but also differentiates between what is considered sacred or important. The symbolic significance of aesthetics in colors, designs and a place of residence can be indicative of socioeconomic standing is within society and what the community values. Jodhpur, India is well known for the beautiful wave of blue houses that dominate the landscape of a rather dry region. However, it is believed that these blue houses originally were the result of ancient caste traditions.
Brahmins (who were at the very top of the caste system) housed themselves in these “Brahmin Blue” homes to distinguish themselves from the members of other castes. Now that the Indian government officially prohibits the caste system, the use of the color blue has become more widespread. Yet Jodhpur is one of the only cities in India that stands steadfast to its widespread aesthetics obsession with the color blue which is making it increasingly unique, creating a new sense of communal solidarity among its residence.
Questions to Consider: How has color influenced the cultural geography of this area? How are the aesthetics of this community symbolic of India’s traditional past, present and possible future?
Tags: South Asia, culture, housing, landscape, unit 3 culture.
For over 1400 years, Mecca has been one of the most important cities in the Arabian Peninsula. By the middle of the 6th century, there were three major settl...
As the heart of Islam, Mecca brings in pilgrims from around the world. This documentary gives a great overview of the historical, spiritual and cultural reasons why this is sacred space to over one billion Muslims. Additionally, this documentary contains an analysis of the logistics that are a part of the Hajj.
McDonald's plans to open the first in a series of all-vegetarian restaurants in India next year. But rest assured, in most locations around the world, meat will stay on the menu.
Many of the most successful global companies or brands use highly regional variations that are attuned to local cultural norms and customs. The McAloo Tikki burger— which uses a spicy, fried potato-based patty — is the Indian McDonald's top seller.
Questions to ponder: What are the forces that lead towards an accelaration of human connectivity around the globe? What are the postive impacts of this increased connectivity? What are some negative impacts? Are these impacts the same in all places? Explain.
Tags: Globalization, food, culture, unit 3 culture and SouthAsia.
"Five men from the remote Pacific island of Tanna arrive in America to experience western culture for the first time, and force us to look at ourselves through brand new eyes..."
This cross-cultural experiment reinforces numerous stereotypes, but also seeks to get viewers to look at issues from a variety of perspectives. Folk cultures, modernization and globalization are all major themes of this show.
Like a detective at a crime scene, chief language inspector Antons Kursitis scans the lobby of a hotel in downtown Riga. He spots a brochure that lists hotel services in Russian only, a flagrant violation of Latvia's language laws.
"Protecting the Latvian language — that is, safeguarding its supremacy over Russian — has been a priority here since the Soviet occupation ended two decades ago. Those efforts face their biggest test yet on Saturday, in a referendum on whether to make Russian the country's second official language." What historical, political and demographic factors shape this cultural issue of language? Why is language often seen as so crucial to cultural identity?
The Latvian voters have spoken: in a massive voter turn-out, they struck down the referendum that sought to make Russian an official language. "Latvia is the only place throughout the world where Latvian is spoken, so we have to protect it," said Martins Dzerve, 37, in Riga, Latvia's capital. "But Russian is everywhere." For more on the vote, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17083397
Evolutionary biologists say the first speakers of what would become the Indo-European languages were probably farmers in what is now Turkey — a conclusion that differs by hundreds of miles and thousands of years from a longstanding linguistic theory.
This research potentially can explain much about the geography of languages and the distribution of cultural groups in Eurasia.
Spain's dismal economy has residents of the country's richest region, Catalonia, wondering if they'd be better off going it alone. With their own language and distinct culture, Catalans have long pushed for independence from Spain.
This podcast merges several geographic strands together as economic turmoil in the southern portion of the Euro Zone has fanned the flames of cultural resentment and put discussions for Catalonian independence on the agenda for local politicians.
Questions to ponder: Will this internal devolution cause greater disintegration in the European Union or Spain? Would an independent Catalan be a wise move for the Catalonians? How would their independence impact Spain?
Tags: political, autonomy, economic, Europe, devolution, sovereignty, unit 4 political.
Roads? Religion? Accent? Food? Which factor dictates where the North ends?
This is a great intellectual expercise to help student think about regions and how we define them. The article can help also inform some of their thinking since one of the main problems for students in drawing regional boundaries is a lack of place-based knowledge.
I saw this video on an Atlantic Cities article and was struck by the rural and "off-the-beaten path" feel that timelapse of the Mother Road manages to capture. Route 66 looms large in Americana, in part because it represents a bygone era, a time when the automobile was new and exciting. This empowered many to make a cross-country road trip, but during this time the car was not so ubiquitous that it was the overwhelming force that is so visually prominent in urban landscapes as it is today. The historical and cultural critique of the U.S. automobile culture in the Pixar movie Cars may be fictional and for a child audience, but it is quite accurate in noting that cities disconnected from the interstate system sharply declined and were never the same. These places represent for many people then, a classic pop culture landscape of yesteryear.
The Gangnam Style! sensation is all over the internet, complete with parodies that both honor and mock the original. This first video is the original, which in a few short months received well ove...
The following link has the video, parodies and infographics to help student explore the meaning behind the cultural phenomenon.
Questions to Ponder: Considering the concept of cultural diffusion, what do we make of this phenomenon? What cultural combinations are seen in this? How has the technological innovations changed how cultures interact, spread and are replicated?
Tags: popular culture, video, diffusion, globalization, culture, place, technology, unit 3 culture.
Written by Harold Miner, the Body Ritual of the Nacirema was written in part to parallel an early 20th century cultural anthropology report on a culture this can be used to discuss culture and different perspectives of culture groups. This could be very fun, especially waiting to see when the "aha" moment comes and they understand just who the Nacirema are (the SPOILER will be embedded in the comment section). It is lengthy and written as academic paper, so for K-12 use, I'd recommend using snippets and having them work in groups to analyze the seemingly bizarre cultural rituals of the Nacirema.
Study offers evidence that long countries give better protection to languages than those that are wide.
This article explains some of the research that Jared Diamond's hypothesis in "Guns, Germs and Steel" generated. More specifically, this particular research hypothesizes that in a given country, its primary axis of orientation (North-South, East-West or balanced) helps to predict the survival of indigenous languages. While I have some skepticism about Diamond's core thesis, this is a good extension for teachers that use Guns, Germs and Steel in their classes.
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