202: Unit 4

History 202: Peoples and Cultures of the Modern World, Fall 2014

Unit 4: Cultural Diversity in the Modern World

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

24. Cultural Essences, Enthocentrism, and Cultural Relativism – Quiz #4

READ: Michael Strada, "Comparative Cultures"

Can you defend cultural relativism in all cases? Be able to define these terms: cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, socialization, norms, mores, folkways, values, cultural universals, innovation, diffusion, in-group mentality, out-groups. You may use notes in the quiz.

25. Culture and Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings: Southern Africa and Barbados

READ: Richard Borshay Lee, "Eating Christmas in the Kalahari"

George Gmelch, "Nice Girls Don't Talk to Rastas"

In what ways does Lee's Christmas gift generate cross-cultural misunderstandings? What does the reaction of the !Kung to the expected gift teach us about their culture? What role do gifts play in your native culture? Why do Americans expect people to be grateful when they receive gifts? How does Gmelch's story exemplify the concept of naïve realism? How does Gmelch try to mediate the cross-cultural misunderstanding—and how successful is he? What is the role of social class in this event?

26. Marriage in Nepal

READ: Melvyn C. Goldstein, "Polyandry: When Brothers Take a Wife"; Alice Dreger, "When Taking Multiple Husbands Makes Sense"

What role do economic considerations play in the polyandry custom found in parts of Nepal? What other factors may promote polyandry? Why are both arranged marriages and polyandry largely unnknown in richer countries like the U.S.?

27. Rights and Rites: Human Rights and Cultural Norms Collide - Quiz #5

READ: Kelleher & Klein, Case Study: Female Genital Cutting; Michelle Goldberg, "Rights Versus Rites"; United Nations General Assembly, "Intensifying Global Efforts for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilations," (2012)

Are attempts by the U.S. and the United Nations to ban female circumcision in Africa an example of neocolonialism? Can FGM be "empowering"? Who should make decisions about whether female circumcision is acceptable—IGOs, Governments, communities, or individuals? Overall, where do you stand on the issue of FGM? In general, how should situations in which protection of human rights conflicts with respect of cultural and religious values be handled? Do you sympathize more with universalists or with cultural relativists? Why?

28. Library Research Project. We will meet in the library.

Your homework is to do preliminary research on the country(ies) you chose in class today and to come up with some ideas of what to focus your research on. In class, I'll take questions about the assignment, go over some things, and then let you get started on your library research.

29. Library

Homework: Continue to do research on your topic. It is highly recommended that you do your homework in the library so you can find relevant sources. Refine and focus your idea for the paper. In class I will ask you to turn in a one-sentence explanation of your topic that answers the following questions:

    • What you are writing about: "I am working on the topic of (focused topic like those mentioned in the indented list of narrow themes; also include the name of country and the time period you will cover)"

    • What you want to know about it: "because I want to find out (what kind of specific information are you going to be looking for? What facts will be relevant to your topic?)

    • Why you want your reader to know and care about it: "in order to help my reader understand better (what, about life in the modern world, about peoples and cultures of the modern world, about he nature of modernization in developing countries, etc.)

If you can write this sentence you will be well on your way and should start diving into the research and note-taking. Until you've conceptualized the paper properly, most note-taking will probably be a waste of time. In the library during class time, you will be free to conduct your research and I will be available to answer your questions.

30. Library

Continue to do research for homework, preferably in the library. For class, meet in the library, and continue with research. I'll be there to help you solve all your problems. If you have an outline, show it to me.

31. Library

Continue to do research for homework, preferably in the library. For class, meet in the library, and continue with research. I'll be there to look at any partial drafts you may have produced by this time. You may also set up a time to meet with me outside of class. The final draft will be due next week. Go check out the next page of the syllabus.

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5