Discussion Board: Topics in Cultural Studies
What forces contributed to the cultural makeup of early civilizations?
Early civilizations were impacted by their geography and the weather. A good example is from a comparison of ancient Rome and ancient Greece. Greece has a mountainous geography. It is a peninsula that juts out into the Aegean and Mediterranean but the shorelines are rocky and steep. This lead to the isolation of people in small groups and city states developed. The rocky land made feeding large numbers of people difficult using hunting or agriculture so isolated groups of people would be able to survive more successfully. On the other hand in Italy (ancient Rome) there was a lot of flat land that was good for agriculture. Transportation from Rome to other parts of the region was easy compared to Greece. Romans built highways which made transportation even easier. The Greeks could mind their own business and develop their own cultures in the different city states. The only problem was if a great power like the Roman or Persian Empires tried to conquer the area. Then the Greek states would have to negotiate how to fight the shared enemy; they were forced to collaborate. Meanwhile Rome developed into a hierarchy. Whoever held the power in Rome was in charge of the Roman people and the foreign people and land that was conquered. Culture makeup also relies on a shared history and a shared language. The capability to trade was important for learning and being influenced by outside cultures.
What social issues arose because of this cultural makeup?
In Sparta the group was the most important unit not the family. There was not acceptance of cultural diversity because a person was part of the dominant group or a slave (or in Athens a third option was a freeman.) Different social values between groups caused conflict; the city states fought each other; Rome and Persian tried to conquer Greece. The different cultures approached survival and warfare differently. Each of the Greek city states could develop in a unique pattern because they did not have very much influence from outside forces. Therefore in ancient Greece a variety of values and belief systems developed. Sparta and Athens were the most powerful but they had very different social values. In Sparta a citizen was expected to conform to the strict, simple way of living. People were expected to be in the military or support the military. Conquered people were the slaves in Sparta so if any social opinions could have been aired that probably would have come up for discussion. Athens took an intellectual route and encourages creativity of thought in areas like poetry and philosophy. Athens was exactly the opposite of Sparta so in Athens any kind of social issue was discussed.
What were the main cultural influences on early civilizations?
The main influences were geography, weather, resources, the understanding of who had power. The family and community structure impacted culture because a community giving the family group priority developed much differently than those who expected everyone to put the community or state first. Some people say that culture is inherited from the earlier generation which is very true when it comes to tradition. On the other hand each generation has a chance to improve or destroy their culture. "(Culture that caused the ‘European miracle’) is a story about how people have spontaneously shaped the conditions that either constrain individuals in their creative pursuits or, on the contrary, allow them to spread their wings. In this" (Znamenski, 2012)
Revisionist history is good when it is based on primary sources of fact and knowledgeable interpretations. But revisionist history is bad if there is a political or cultural agenda that is given more importance. Znamenski (2012) explained something dangerous that has happened lately in an effort to correct European-centric history. All cultures and all the important people in a culture were considered equal. “Characters such as Crazy Horse and Mansa Munsa began to be viewed as having shaped world history no less or even more than George Washington and Queen Elizabeth of England.” (Znamenski, 2012) History has people who had more influence in a place and time than other people so it is important to distinguish the differences but still compare the similarities.
Farhat-Holzman, L. (2012). Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age. Comparative Civilizations Review, (66), 158+. Retrieved from http://www.questia.com
Stevens, D. H. (1953). The Changing Humanities: An Appraisal of Old Values and New Uses. New York: Harper. Retrieved from http://www.questia.com
Wei, R. (2012). Geo-Civilization. Comparative Civilizations Review, (66), 91+. Retrieved from http://www.questia.com