Short post today - just a call out for you to take a few minutes today or over the weekend to check out a fascinating piece by Ryan on the anthropology blog Savage Minds titled 'When Culture Erases History'.
While on the surface an essay about anthropological field work in the Baja, California region, (interesting in its own right), the piece's essential question, or perhaps more accurately challenge to us is this: Are we too often confusing 'culture', complex, long-developing, and ever-evolving, with much more practical and visible characteristics of a people or place, (and I'd argue a corporation), like politics, history, land ownership, and economic power?
An excerpt from the article:
This use–or misuse–of the idea of culture is quite common, and I think it’s a clear case that calls for some more anthropological engagement. Because culture is, after all, one of our bread and butter concepts–even if it has run a bit wild on us (all the more reason to get back into the game, no?). In the end, I think one role for cultural anthropology–in this specific case and other related instances–is to point out when culture is a viable, meaningful explanatory factor, and, just as importantly, when it’s not. Granted, sometimes culture can tell us a lot about human differences. Sometimes culture is the answer. But when culture is used to make an end run around history (and politics), well, maybe it’s time to take a closer look.
If you're interested at all the the interplay between culture and power and money and the ways that people do or do not get along in an ecosystem, then like I said check out the Savage Minds article for if not the answers to some of these problems, at least for a way to frame the questions and discussions in a useful way.
Sometimes culture is the answer, in anthropology certainly, and once in a great while, in business too,(although I'd submit in the corporate world it's far less a factor than what seems to be currently fashionable to suggest).
But other times, and maybe most of the time, behaviors and characteristics we think might have some kind of deep-seated or inherent cultural influence turn out to be much more practical and even mundane.
If we don't get along, it could be because of some deep-seated, thousands of years to develop and almost inherent cultural difference between your people and my people. It could be that. Or it could be that you will not stop posting pictures of everything you eat on Instagram. That probably is the reason, actually.
Hmm. Maybe too heavy for a Friday, especially after this week.
Have a great weekend!