Puerto Rican culture, which has been described as the most colorful culture in the history of the international community, has undergone so many changes, thanks to globalization. Globalization, which entails the integration of the world cultures, economies and ideas, is an inevitable concept in the modern world, where technology is fast taking root and advancing in almost all countries, including the developing countries. Talking of cultural globalism, the most significant part of human life covered include language, architecture, foods, religion, arts, entertainment, and the overall way of life observed by a particular community. In the case of Puerto Rico, an archipelago of islands in the North Eastern Caribbean, culture is exceptionally diversified. The culture of the people, in this unincorporated territory of the United States located in between the United States Virgin Islands and the British virgin islands, is made up of aspects of many aboriginal cultures (Young, 2002). In straightforward terms, the culture of Puerto Rico is made up of aspects of the aboriginal native community of Indians referred to as, Tainos, as well as other cultures, such as African, Asian, Spanish, Hawaiian and other European cultures. This paper endeavors to explain the effects of globalization on the culture of Puerto Rico.
Background of Puerto Rican culture
For a long time now, Puerto Rico has been described by anthropologists ad other historians as a boiling pot of culture. The life on the islands of Puerto Rico is characterized by features from many cultures. Essential to note is the actuality that when the Spaniards conquered the islands of Puerto Rico, they sought to take Puerto Rican women as their brides, in an endeavor to make their culture the main lifestyle on the islands. Later, as economic activity thrived, the people of the Puerto Rico, needed labor to work on the farms and other economic activities. As such, African slaves were imported to provide cheap labor at the peak of the slave trade. With the influx of the foreigners came the importation of Chinese people, who were to enhance the efforts at economic strength of the Islands of Puerto Rico. The Chinese immigrants were followed by other European cultures, such as Italians, the French and the Germans. Later in the 1960s, Cubans arrived in large numbers in an effort to escape the harsh conditions of the communist rule of Fidel Castro (Aparicio, 2007). During this time, the culture of the islands had become substantially diversified in such a way that the native traits of the Tainos had started fading away. What was to replace the native culture is a mix of cultures – a racial mix that was characterized by hospitality, folklore and peaceful coexistence.
The effects of globalization on the culture of Puerto Rico
Arguably, globalization is a far reaching concept that has touched on all cultures of the world today. With such things as technology and social networking, sharing of ideas has become substantially easy I the modern world. In the contemporary world, a person living in Puerto Rico can effortlessly study in a Chinese university. This has enabled the intermingling of people from various backgrounds, prompting the integration of such aspects of culture as religion (Morris, 2005). Perhaps the most notable way in which globalization has impacted on the Puerto Rican culture is architecture. Apparently, architecture is the most visible aspect of a culture. It is for this point that an individual can easily differentiate a native African civilization from a native Asian civilization by observing the physical appearance of the buildings. Puerto Rican architecture was highly influenced by the Spaniard type of architecture, which entailed the tiling of roofs and use of pastel colored walls. The walls were made in such a style that there was an inner court where people could meet and socialize. With the influx of tourists and other people from the rest of the world, the traditional Spaniard culture is fast being replaced with the modern American architecture, which entails the building of simple bungalows for the middle class and high class mansions for the wealthy members of society.
Traditionally, Puerto Rico is known for art and crafts. The arts, which mainly entail the making of such things as drawings and galleries, led to the establishment of museums and open exhibitions where people with talent showcased their prowess (Young, 2002). The fact that the culture of the area emphasized the use of artistic talent, there was established various institutes to nurture such talent through formal training. The most notable of such institutions is the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. This institution concerns itself with the teaching of all aspects of the unique culture of Puerto Rico. The people that get formal training in this institution participate in such things as the creation of modern literature on Puerto Rico, making of various works of art reflecting the historical background of Puerto Rico as well as making the tourism industry a source of economic growth for the people on the Puerto Rican islands. With the high rate of globalization, such arts are fast fading away with people venturing into other economically rewarding activities. The global ideas, which have been brought into Puerto Rico by international students and tourists, have worked negatively on the aspects of art and crafts. Arguably, this has been among the most significant negative effects of globalization on the Puerto Rican culture.
Language is a central part of the culture. Puerto Rican people use Spanish as their first language. This language became the undisputed national language after the colonization of the islands by the Spaniards. The Spanish people made their language the common language after they saw the need for unifying the diverse cultures on the islands of Puerto Rico. The native language of the Tainos gradually faded away as the colonial masters endeavored to give the islands an international outlook (Bertho et al, 2008). For decades, the Spanish language has been used in Puerto Rico as the first language. Globalism, brought by such things as formal education and tourism, has seen the rise of the English language over the years. Currently, the English language, arguably the most recognized language in the international scene is fast replacing the Spanish language as the first language of the people of Puerto Rico. English is the language associated with formal education, especially in higher learning institutions. It is noteworthy that English has a better international outlook than any other language. It is the adoption of English that has seen Puerto Ricans interact more with people from the rest of the world.
Arguably, Puerto Ricans are the most courteous and hospitable people around the globe. It is for this point that the communities of the Puerto Rican islands have coexisted peacefully for a considerably long time. It is because of this hospitable nature that globalization has easily found its way into the culture of Puerto Rico. The hospitable and welcoming nature of the people of Puerto Rico, coupled with such things as the beautiful culture and beaches, has seen a constant influx of tourists all year round. Such tourists, who come from various countries and communities, bring about foreign ideas. The ideas brought by the foreigners have both harmful and constructive impacts on the Puerto Rican people. Perhaps the most significant impact of the foreigners on the Puerto Rican culture is the fact that the reserved nature of the people has been replaced with ways that were traditionally considered antisocial (Morris, 2005). For instance, Puerto Rico, much like most parts of the Caribbean, has a substantial poor population. With such economic activities as tourism, social evils such as prostitution have become rampant. In addition to globalization bringing in such ideas as prostitution, it has introduced such things as gay marriages, things that were not practiced in Puerto Rico, before the globalization age. Through such media as television and the internet, the people of Puerto Rico have become exposed to such novel ideas as technology based entertainment.
In the culture of Puerto Rican people, traditionally, entertainment was characterized by art, music and storytelling. The art of storytelling, which is a central element of Puerto Rican entertainment, was enhanced by such things as drawings, to make the storytelling session more entertaining. Such has been the entertainment scene in the islands of Puerto Rico until recently when, with the widespread globalization, digital based entertainment took over. Currently, much like people in most parts of the developed world, the people of Puerto Rico are so much into such things as internet entertainment. Social media is among the most common form of entertainment and socialization. Movies and other television programs have replaced the elementary forms of entertainment such as music and art competitions. Talking of television and movies, Puerto Rico is not just a buyer, but also a creator of the same. Following the unique nature of the Puerto Rican people, movie directors and script writers of television programs have ventured heavily into the Puerto Rican market, with many soap opera programs being written and acted in the islands of Puerto Rico (Young, 2002). Thus has greatly transformed Puerto Rico from the somewhat traditional civilization it was to an advanced economy where digital entertainment has become a key part of social life.
Religion is a central part of any culture. The religion observed in a particular culture depends on many factors. For instance, the Arabic culture is characterized by the Islamic culture. The Islamic religion originated in the Middle East. It is no puzzle then why it is a common religion in Asia. Similarly, Puerto Rico, which was colonized by the Spaniards, is substantially Christian. The Puerto Rican culture became Christian during the early stages of globalization. Globalization was silently encroaching into the world during the spread of Christianity (Bertho et al, 2008). It was during this time that most ideas were being given a global outlook. For instance, the efforts of the Christian missionaries were among the first endeavors to promote globalism in the social arena. For example, during the Middle Ages, most parts of Europe were Christian. As such, they mostly advocated for the doctrines of Christianity wherever they went. When the Christians entered a new territory, they sold the idea to the people. This was the impact of globalization on Puerto Rican culture during the 19th century. Before the coming of the Spaniards, the natives of Puerto Rico observed traditional religions. With time, such religions were faced out and today Puerto Rico is a Christian culture, with most people observing the doctrines of the Roman Catholic.
Globalization has gone a long way in changing the nature and type of games in Puerto Rico. Traditionally, the people of Puerto Rican culture played such games as swimming and wrestling. The games, which were played during festivals and events, formed part of the culture. With the coming of formal education, media and foreigners, the games played in Puerto Rico changed greatly. Currently, the most prominently played games in the islands of Puerto Rico include such things as basketball, baseball, sailing, boating, biking et cetera. Such games, which are characteristic of the global arena, have taken Puerto Rico to the international scene through participation in such things as the Olympic Games (Clarke & Thomas, 2006). Participating in such games has made the culture of the people open up to novel changes. Additionally, the idea of participating in modern games and sporting activities has enabled the Puerto Rican culture to undergo various changes. Such changes include the diversion of attention from the traditional games to the postmodern sports. Such have opened up Puerto Rico to foreigners seeking to intermarry with the beautiful women of Puerto Rico.
According to historians and anthropologists, music was and has all the time been at the core of Puerto Rican culture. The kind of music that has been part of Puerto Rican culture for a long time is music that is characterized by both African and Caribbean aspects. The music used in Puerto Rico used elementary instruments and accompaniments (Aparicio, 2007). For instance, the use of such things as flutes and instruments made from such things as gourds was a common feature of African music. Similarly, the flutes and gourd instruments were a part of the Caribbean music culture. Globalization has wiped out such music substantially. Even if it is widely played in some parts of the main Puerto Rican Island, the traditional music has been replaced by modern instruments in most parts. With technology, the use of such elementary things as gourds and flutes becomes inconvenient. It is for this reason that modern studio technology has replaced them. Unknown to many individuals is the reality that the traditional music, which used the basic instruments signified the existence of the early Puerto Rican culture. With the death of such things, the culture becomes weakened.
Puerto Rican culture has been known for the preference of strong family relations. The typical Puerto Rican family is characterized by well knit relations. The family is recognized as the most important basic unit of the society in Puerto Rico. Conventionally, the man was the leader of the house, with the woman or he mother being an assistant that oversaw the running of the house. The well knit relationships are slowly fading away as the foreign beliefs encroach. Most foreign cultures, especially those in the capitalistic developed world have no considerations for such things as family relations (Friedman & Pérez, 2003). Arguably this is because of the fast paced life in the countries. Life in the developed economies is in such a way that work-life conflicts tear family ties apart. The fact that the members of the family are independently working hard in pursuit of education and career development means that that do not get time to interact and create links and connections among themselves. With the introduction of formal education in Puerto Rico people have ventured heavily into white collar careers. Such white collar jobs create a work-life conflict. Such conflicts tear apart family ties. This way, the good well knit family culture of Puerto Rican culture is fast disappearing, thanks to globalism. Currently, the people of Puerto Rico are more in pursuit of education and jobs than family affiliation and connections.
Another key element of culture, which has been adversely affected by globalization, is the aspect of foods and drinks. The eating habits of a people define their culture and way of life. From what and how people eat, one can estimate with a considerable degree of accuracy the type of economic activity and the resources available to the people of the area. The people of Puerto Rico observe a diet that is characterized by such foods as rice, chicken and fish. The diet, which is modified by the fact that rice and fish are readily available are a unifying factor as all people in the islands of Puerto Rico eat the meals. This diet, which is seemingly interesting to many foreigners, has been among the driving forces behind the tourist activities. Globalization has, however, seen the establishment of many fast foods restaurants in the area. Such restaurants as the popularly known McDonald’s have changed diet preferences among Puerto Ricans. The people of Puerto Rico, especially the working class have opted to replace the rice and fish diet with such fast foods as steaks and fries (Clarke & Thomas, 2006). The consumption and preference of such meals has greatly affected the culture of the people. Much like all the above discussed factors, food and drinks are among the most important aspects of a culture. A change in the foods and drinks consumed leads to a change in culture.
In conclusion, it is noteworthy that the effects of globalization on the Puerto Rican culture are many and far reaching. Among the primary effects of globalization on Puerto Rican culture is the fact that the concept of international integration has caused serious loss of cultural identity. The identity of the people is said to have been lost when such people lose touch with their traditions and norms. Among the primary effects discussed above touch on architectural designs, art and crafts, foods and drinks, introduction of formal education, religious beliefs, games and sports, music and entertainment, the English language as well as the friendly nature of the community. Puerto Rico, much like all other cultures in the world, is subject to the effects of globalization. The major factors behind the fast rate at which globalization is touching on cultures include technology, the spread of formal education as well as tourism and such things as international events such as Olympic Games. For a long time, Puerto Rico has been known for its rich culture. Globalization, being an inevitable concept, seeks to establish one international culture referred to as the world culture. Whether or not at one point all cultures will be integrated depends on whether or not the communities are ready to drop their traditional values – something that will not happen anytime soon.
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