Sunday, March 8, 2009

Survival of the fittest?

 Are we in an age of cultural “survival of the fittest” or is the blending of culture elements actually an improvement? 

I decided to look back on the topic and read through some of the prompts offered.  For some reason I was really interested in this specific question about whether or not we are in an age of cultural "survival of the fittest" or if the blending of culture elements is actually an improvement.  I don't really see this prompt as giving much of a choice, it really just says that cultures are blending together, and either we can view it one way or the other.

At first I tried to think of how we are in an age where cultures are experiencing a "survival of the fittest" mentality.  The first thing that came to mind was the Native American culture in America.  Many Native American cultures have vanished underneath "American" culture.  And yet, the more I thought about it I thought of many different examples of increased awareness of vanishing cultures and the increased response to document them and to revive them.  I have seen work by linguists and sociologists working hard with Native Americans to revive their languages, their culture, and their traditions.  Now that we are more aware of vanishing cultures it seems as if we are working toward ensuring that they do not disappear.  So, yes perhaps there was a "survival of the fittest" situation occuring but that's changing.  Then, there is also the fact that there is a "hollowing" out of Europe and a focus, from the EU, on different traditions and cultures which cross borders.  So maybe the "struggle" of cultures is really starting to become more protected now.

Then I thought about the blending of the cultures.  Are there a blending of cultures?  Yes we see Chinatowns, we see Little Italies, etc.  But are they really blending?  And if they are, is this an improvement?  I couldn't really think of an example of where there is a blending of cultures.  I see these pockets of differnt cultures and I see them existing in their own bubbles without heavy influence from different cultures.

I mean, I suppose one could talk about the "chinglish" phenomenon and the blending of culture through language...but is that an improvement?  I don't really see it as an improvement, in fact it could be seen as a negative overall.

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