Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Colonized Consciousness and Othering

http://iolsresearch.ukzn.ac.za/Wewantwewantwewant12975.aspx

The above link is Faith ka-manzi's latest poem, featured at the IOLS newsletter for Feb (released today).. It is an example of political transcript manifested in art. (agency and social consciousness)

In your readings, Barker asks questions about the denigration and subordination of ‘native’ culture by colonial and imperial powers and the relationship between place and diaspora identities.

The concept of diaspora helps us think of identities as fluid, and in motion rather than confined to nature or cultural specifics.

The question of hybridity points to the cultures of the colonial and colonized are inseparable and eventually give rise to a hybrid culture.

So the question that we should ask is: is culture pure? Can culture ever be presented as pure? And also, can language, and dominant practices been seen as pure?

Also, What do we understand by local knowledge systems?

Central to the debate of power and hegemony from the dominant mode/colonizer is the notion of race and ethnicity. So then, ‘othering’ refers to a politics of difference to be found in the postcolonial conceptualizations of social reality.

Discuss some examples of 'othering' as understood by you.
And also.. What is Patriarchy?
What is a colonized consciousness?

24 comments:

Ashton said...

Cultures, in my view can only really be pure unless they have never been in contact with other cultures. i dont think a culture can ever be pure if it has come into prolonged contact with another culture. I think local knowledge systems are a part of culture, so i dont think they can be pure either, after mixing with different knowledge systems. As soon as one culture meets another, they have to respond or react in some way to the other. The reaction would first come about through a matter of discourse (the way one culture group talks about another culture group). This would result in people forming attitudes towards the other culture (whether they be positive or negative). And thus the people of one culture may reject or accept parts of the other culture. Either way, that culture is not pure. it has been modified just by coming into contact with another culture.

I would not go as far as just by meeting another culture, a certain culure will become hybridized. This would take longer and would require intermingling of culures. However, through a matter of discourse, one culture, when it comes into contact with another, is changed in some way-whether it be in practical or ideological ways (and thus it is no longer pure.)

Ashton said...

oh...my student number is 206501331 for the above comment.

Anonymous said...

test

name
student id

Anonymous said...

In my opinion culture can not be pure, simply because it is passed on from generation to generation. We all know what happens to a story that is told over & over, it changes overtime. It never reaches the destination exactly the way it was first told.

Precious Majola
206508899

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ashton with regard to culture only being pure until it comes into contact with other cultures. I just disagree a little with the timeframe discussed. i think as soon as cultures meet they have a profound impact on one another. for example: if the first people to ever land in an 'unknown' part of the world threw one spear at one person and then decided to press on home because they had a roast on the go, the people of the place they had just discovered would tell stories about that encounter for the rest of time.

i don't think culture can ever be defined as "pure" these days...long ago perhaps.

language can never be described as pure because it doesn't need outside influence to evolve. it can be changed by two people on the lowest level: as soon as some gesture or sound is made by one person and understood by another it is language.

i had an experience with the idea of othering a few days ago. i was speaking with a friend of mine, thabo, and i can't remember what exactly we were talking about but he said something like "white people are always looking out for each other. why don't black people do that?" after he said that i thought to myself it seems the other way round. i just thought it seemed like a weird thing to notice from both sides. it's easy to say that it comes from the way we've been socialised but it seems counterintuitive especially coming from two south africans raised in the post apartheid era...

will smyly
206501517

Anonymous said...

YOU KNOW I WANT TO SAY THAT CULTURE IS PURE BUT THE MORE I THINK ABOUT IT THE MORE I SEE THAT CULTURE CAN NOT BE PURE.YES IT CAN BE PRESENTED AS PURE BUT WITH GLOBALISATION AND PEOPLE INTERACTING AND WITH SO MUCH INFLUENCE FROM THE WEST.....SADLY CULTURE CANNOT BE PURE.A CULTURE MAY STILL HOLD OR FOLLOW PARITCULAR IMPORTANT ACTS OF THAT CULTURE BUT BEING PURE......IS ANOTHER MATTER.

Anonymous said...

Well in this 21st century it is vertually impossible to say that culture is pure especcially for us Africans since there is alot of western influence in everything we do in our particular cultures. it might have been pure in the years of our forefathers but now its not. Even language its not pure because now we have languages such as the tsotsi taal which fusses many langauges into one. Language is not pure when we still code swith from one langange to other in a conversation.

Slindile Dlamini
205516430

Anonymous said...

I strongly belief that culture is not fully pure; referring from the Diaspora concepts it is proven that culture is not fully pure. For example you find that people from rural areas migrate to urban centres to search for better employment opportunities, but still retain their cultural identity and cultural practices. They might absorb some of the urban cultural influences, such as dressing trends but continue with their traditional practices (slotting a goat.)Basically cultural mix brings about the concept hybridity.it can be also argued that cultural groups are situated in different locations in urban centers,for example you find that foreigners are located in the decaying part of the city and other cultural groups are located in specified locations (cultural mosaic). The apartheid system is a good example of cultural divide reinforced along racial lines.

Anonymous said...

I personally do not think that culture is pure because in some cases people abuse their culture and distort their norms and values in such a way that they forget the true meaning of their culture. People add other things onto "their" culture therefore making it more contemporary. Culture keeps evolving, thus it cannot be pure. Culture is constantly changing; it is dynamic.

In regards to languages being pure, I disagree with that too because languages are also dynamic. Many people today speak more than one language, so does that mean that they have more than one culture? Does language mean culture? Today it is desired to speak and understand more than one language, but I do not think language is pure because it has evolved and changed drastically over the years. One person may have a different meaning and interpretation of a word or phrase as opposed to another persons meaning and interpretation of that same word or phrase.

At the end of the day everyone is different and we are all entitled to our own opinions and beliefs. Thus we should all be allowed to develop our own culture that best suits us.

Patriarchy is a social system whereby the male dominates. For example in a household the father will dominate and look after his family. The fathers norms and values will be practised by the entire family.

206505896

Anonymous said...

HEY THERE
I POSTED A COMMENT THE OTHER DAY AND FORGOT TO ADD MY NAME AND STUDENT NUMBER.IT WAS POSTED ON THE 2ND OF MARCH.....

IRVIN MAPHUMULO
205517503

Anonymous said...

after discovering a reading in the corse reader by rob and someone else i feel i have to change what i said above.. while it may have seemed counterintuitive to me, it does look like those kinds of examples of 'othering' are all around us all the time. Whether we are male, female, black, white, or purple, as soon as someone doesn't look or act in an almost identical way...we encounter the concept of 'othering'

will smyly
206501517

Anonymous said...

203513994
Fikile Mbeje

I agree with those who say that culture is not pure and it is like fluids. Because culture is a learnt practice and it changes from time to time. In my understanding human beings belong to more than one group, these groups have their own different cultures as regulations. E.g. In the home you follow what you have learn from your parents, in the school or workplace, community and other social groups you are expected to practice what is excepted by that particular group. This shows that culture enables you to belong to a group but constrains you because if you do not follow rules of the group you become isolated.This means that you have to practice the group regulations whether you agree or not.E.g.In Zulu culture, if you are a married woman you must always wear something on your head and longer dresses or skirts, and you are not allowed to enter your in-laws' house without anything on your head.If you disobey that,the family isolates and dislike you.because they feel that you are not respecting them.

And it is true that culture is like a fluid, because it is seeiping away unnoticed. Especially now that Group Areas Act has been bannished, People can live, school wherever thay like as long they can afford.Everything is multiracial. This means that we are living in a mix pot of cultures.E.g.Some African people who live in suburbs and children who attend school in multiracial school are no more speaking their venicular language,they speak mixed languages. Yet language is part of who you are, it identifies.

Patrirchy issue:I feel that culture is oppressing females most whilst it makes life easy for males as dominant party.E.g.if you look at Zulu culture,if a husband dies a wife must mourn for a year, wearing black or any other colour that is chosen by the husband's family for the whole year, whereas if its a wife a husband only put a piece of cloth of that particular colour on his arm for a maximum of three months. Another one is that if you are a woman you must cook and serve food to males with a tray, no matter whether that male stays at home and you are working. You will come from work and do your duties as prescribed by culture.However that practice is like fluid especially in townships and suburbs because most women know their rights in these areas and they teach them new life style and new culture that is not pure as it is mixed with other cultures.But women in rural areas and some in townships are still living in a patriarchy and pure culture.

Anonymous said...

I find it difficult to relate culture to the word pure. Pure in what sense? If by pure one means unadulterated or uncontaminated (logical sense) then I can’t see how any culture can indeed be pure in the contemporary era.

However pure can also mean natural, unmixed and clean and in this sense I do believe certain cultures are pure. I believe it is natural for a culture to be influenced by its surroundings/environment (including external people), these changes are often necessary for the survival of a culture. I also think it is morally incorrect to say that certain cultures are not pure (clean), because often strong indigenous cultural beliefs are much purer than mainstream western cultures (capitalism).

R.Andraos
206504772

KimyaShafinaaz said...

hi there

i think that from the number of reflections made at this blog over the past three weeks or so, this particular topic has raised the most fascinating conversation, reflections and engagement. i just want to discuss some of these well-thought out ideas and wait to read more of what others have to say. also, keep in mind that if you've commented at a post once, nothing should stop you from returning to add to the discussion: try leaving a comment first based on my main questions at the post, then engage or debate what other students have said as well!

KimyaShafinaaz said...

@ ashton: i enjoyed reading your argument for its clarity and coherence! no matter stance you take in debate, its important to substantiate an ordered argument, and yous is a perfect example.

@ precious: i really like the idea that culture can be seen as a story/ your comparison made me think of the notion of culture as language/discourse and so in the same way that oral stories may be mutated and changed as they get passed around, culture is often hybridized in its interactions with social processes around it.

@ will: thanks for returning to the site to share your change of reflection after reading robs article, although i think what you said inthe first comment is pretty relevant too. we need to re-evaluate our assumptions about 'being brought up in post-apartheid' society.. evidence might reveal that inevitably, we might still hold onto cultural pre-text from that time of isolation. not to suggest that its racist ideology, but that our assumptions on the one hand might be that we've done away with thinking racially, and on the other hand that might not be the case from a cultural perspective. othering continues..

the question is, are we to maintain these walls between us, or are we to choose to celebrate the difference?

@ irvin - thanks for identifying your piece!

@ slindile: thats a brilliant example! our mutations of language are perfect example of hybridity..

@ ....anon please IDENTIFY yourself
(quite surprising that i need ask, seeing that this is a course on identity :)

KimyaShafinaaz said...

.../cont.

@GMS: I like how your argument follows. And interesting reflection on agency in making our own culture..

@ Fikile: you have some wonderful examples of patriarchal readings of culture and I hope that you make use of these in your research! we need to be able to document these vivid examples of cultural text and analyse them. South African society reveals such a diverse and culturally rich landscape, and so if we start looking behind the scenes like this, we can create contemporary ideological stances within our context.

@ R.Andraos: I thoroughly enjoyed reading your analysis. In looking at cultural purity as a general question, you have taken it apart/deconstructed it to reveal how easily we assume just one-dimension of a single WORD ('Pure')
So if we link language to culture, and question purities in both.. -taking into consideration what might seem separate (practical assumtion) but are inherently linked, then taking a word such as 'pure', and unravelling its negative and positive features cuold say much about the implications (rather than assumptions) this has for culture.
While it is true that 'pure' culture can be seen as 'original, unadulterated' - this might imply that the community that ascribes to that culture is isolated/operates in a vaccuum. Does it necessarily follow that an 'unpure' culture can be seen as 'unclean,distorted'. Lets consider that maybe culture needs to be a fluid/dynamic process- it may hold onto its core moral principles, but has the ability to join dynamic social forces (historical, political, geographical/diaspora) We might ask, what happens to culture if it remains rigid? Hybridization might be a process of survival (simplistic suggestion of changing with the times :) What does everyone think on this??

Anonymous said...

No contemporary culture can claim to be pure. Purity of cultures is perhaps a thing of the pre-colonial times. Exposure to foreign culture and globalization brings about changes in local cultures. These two factors frequently modify cultures across the globe. I therefore do not think that culture is pure, after all, culture is dynamic. It is characterized by continuous change. Some cultural rituals that our forefathers practiced two centuries ago are no longer cultural necessities. New and relevant rituals have replaced some of the old and outdated.

From this line of argument it follows therefore that language (being part and parcel of culture) is also not static but undergoes change. Needless to say it is also not pure. For example, ways of behavior have changed from what they were a hundred years ago. However I believe there are certain cultural aspects that never change no matter what. A good example would be a value that promotes respect for elders, such a value is never done away with (it never changes).

In my understanding, patriarchy is a cultural system where men are in control of society while women play an inferior role. For example, I am told that in the past women had to get their husband’s (or father’s) consent before they could open an account.

Local knowledge systems are forms of cultural knowledge that have been passed from generation to generation. This knowledge can be about different things such as medicine and farming.

A colonized consciousness is a condition where the formerly colonized have an inferiority complex, a sense of self hate and wish they were like the coloniser.

Lastly, people that are referred to as the ‘other’ are those who are from different cultures, ethnic groups, ‘race’, speak a different language from us, are of different gender, etc. For example Black people view White people as the ‘others’ because they are a different ‘race’ and are also not members of their cultural groups. In other words it is people who are different from us that we view as ‘others’.

Lindokuhle Khumalo
205500409

Anonymous said...

i think that in the ancient days culture was pure becoz people could not easily travel to other places or relocate to other places like today. the cultures of today are not pure becoz of globalization. globalization enables different people from different spaces to find themselves in one area/place, creates hybridised spaces therefore creating multiculturalism. i think that in this kind of situation certain cultures will be influenced or impacted by other cultureswhich may create certain changes in the culture, therefore making it unpure. becoz of a diverse and hybridised space or place languange and practices will never remain pure because people need to communicate with one another with a language that they will all understand therefore they will create their own hybridised language which consists of all the languanges.

i think that local knowledge systems are local places or local people where we can get knowledge from.for example our grandparents, chiefs in our communities and people living in that specific community. the local knowledge may consist of the practices, values and norms of the community.

i think that the conception of 'othering' refers to progressive thoughts, behaviour and methods. for example in South Africa were are trying to progress from having racist thoughts. we are striving to have a racist free nation.

patriarchy is when women are seen as inferior to me. it is the subordination of women and the domination of men.
i think that colonized consciousness refers to not having a pure conscious. it refers to the influence of colonization of people's thoughts by ideology, media or propaganda

N.B SHUBE
206515950

Anonymous said...

in my opinion culture is not pure,it can change and has been changing from from generation to generation,as peoples ideas,beliefs,and values have changed.culture has changed and maybe even evolved through the impact of other cultures.language is also not pure,as culture has been intergrated so has language to accomodate people.patriarchy is when men are seen as being superior to women.206519382

Anonymous said...

I dont belive that culture is pure!!!! In the past yes it was, but, is has been somewhat distorted by our adoption of Westernised cultures and ideologies.I personaly dont have a culture so you could say that "i just go with the flow" so to speak. I am very intrigued by other peoples cultures,but it is evident to me that people have forsaken their cultures to portray a westernised sort of image.Language does infact have a corellation with culture but then again people have forgot about their "mother tongue" and have adopted a "westernised way of speaking", so one could say that language is not pure as well. 206503196, CHERRY,T :)

Anonymous said...

HI GUYS!
I PERSONALLY BELIEVE THAT CULTURE IS PURE, OK! I KNOW THAT IT IS PASSED FROM ONE GENERATION TO THE NEXT BUT I DONT BELIEVE THAT THIS MAKES IT UN-PURE. CULTURE IS JUST LIKE RELIGION TO MY OWN WAY OF LOOKING AT THINGS. CULTURE IS WAY OF LIFE SHARED BY A GROUP OF PEOPLE FOR EXAMPLE THE WAY THE DRESS, WHAT THEY EAT, WHAT THEY BELIEVE IN ETC AND THE SAME APPLIES TO RELIGION.

I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT WHAT IS PASSED ON FROM OUR PARENTS IS PURE "CULTURE" "MY ROOTS" AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED EVEN IF I DO INTERACT WITH PEOPLE FROM DIFFERNT CULTURE. WE DO INTERACT WITH PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT RELIGIONS AS WELL AND I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS WILL MAKE MY RELIGION UNPURE. UNLESS IF I CHOOSE TO LEAVE MY RELIGION TO ANOTHER RELIGION. SO I WILL SAY CULTURE IS PURE UNLESS YOU CHOOSE TO MIXED IT WITH OTHER CULTURES. I MEET PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES ALMOST DAILY BUT THIS HAVE NOT CHANGED MY CULTURE

MY QUESTION TO THOSE WHO SAY CULTURE IS NOT PURE BECAUSE IT IS PASSED FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION IS AND WE INTERACT WITH PEOPLE FROM DIFFRERENT CULTURES IS: IS RELIGION ALSO NOT PURE BECAUSE IT IS PASSED FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION AND WE MEET WITH PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT RELIGIONS?

MONDY
206510367

Anonymous said...

In this day and age cultures can never be considered as ‘pure’. Modern day cultures have absorbed traits and characteristics from one another either through force or own by choice. Colonisation forced indigenous cultures to forcibly adopt the cultural properties of colonizers, such as Indians in India adopting Christianity of English colonizers. Their culture became hybridized in the sense that they followed Christian religious prayers and rituals but retained parts of their Indian culture such as dress and language. Indians absorbed the sport of cricket by choice into their way of life and to this day it is a defining part of their culture. Hybridization of a culture can also ensure its survival by slowly but surely eliminating old outdated rituals and customs that are archaic, such as the caste system which only favours the rich minority in India. Language can also not be seen as pure, as language will always continue to evolve and become localized to different locations. It is affected by not only local dialects but also by the local people who when speaking the language develop their own unique words. An Englishman from Liverpool in England speaks very different English compared to an Australian.
A local knowledge system is knowledge about aspects of one’s culture that is passed down from generation to generation in a local geographical area; such as the elders in Indian diasporas in South Africa teaching their children about prayer rituals.
Patriarchy is when a man is considered the breadwinner of the house, the one who supports his family and without whom they wouldn’t survive. Women play second fiddle and are considered inferior and weak. A colonized consciousness is when indigenous people adopt the way of thinking, behaving and points of view of their colonizers. They don’t use aspects of their own culture to make decisions but use the culture of their colonizers instead.

M Hemrajh
205516953

Anonymous said...

It would be a brave thing to do to abandon the believes that you had been taught form a young and age and to embark on a journey on finding an identity that you feel reflects you better. Challenging the community that you were brought up and all the things that you were taught. This process is active as you would be actively creating a new identity whilst interacting with the word around you and entering unfamiliar territory of looking at the world through your own eyes instead of the way that you are told to look at the world.

206516466 (Ngema)

Anonymous said...

Cultures cannot be pure for as long as there is diversity of cultures in our society. This is even the case with language. Living in South Africa where there are so many different languages, people knowing more than one language will start to mix languages when they talk. Cultures are exposed to different cultures and people start to assimilate different practices into their lives and the cultures start to change. But this assimilation may be from their choice or by force brought by colonizers. Africans were faced with this hurdle of patriarchy as they were forced to adopt a new culture but still have a strong bond with their own.

206516466 (Ngema)