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It is quite interesting to note that when examining the various countries where European colonization occurred, it can be see that religious fervor and the proliferation of devout followers is a common theme among such countries at the present.
Gibson (1978) explains this current predilection by stating that in order to overtake the cultures and original religions that used to play important roles in such cultures, European colonizers utilized religious conversion as a means by which the local populace could be influenced and as a result subvert the practices that were in existence at the time with something more akin to what the European colonizers wanted (Gibson, 1978). The present day fervor seen in various South American countries as well as in the Philippines is clear evidence of the effectiveness of such a tactic.
Sustaining Cultural Practices
Researchers such as Weeden Sr. (2009) have shown that oral tradition played an important role in helping various societies sustain their cultural practices despite the cultural domination instituted by European traders and colonizers (Weeden Sr. 2009). Weeden Sr. (2009) explains this by indicating that while various types of cultural texts and religious iconography can be burned or destroyed, oral traditions can easily be passed from one generation to the next resulting in the survival of various types of cultural practices (Weeden Sr. 2009).
This was seen in the case of the Philippines wherein various aspects of its ancient cultural traditions involving elemental and idol worship were subtlety incorporated into social convention despite the best efforts of the Catholic priests at the time to stamp out all previous forms of “alternative” cultural or religious practices.
While the Forbidden City can be considered a representation of the power and history of China, it cannot be stated that through its existence it was able to prevent the influences of the European powers(Carter, 2011).
For example, the ill-fated Boxer rebellion in the 1900s, combined with the annexation of Hong Kong, the spread of the opium trade within China and the proliferation of unequal treaties in favor of foreign powers was clear evidence that despite all it represented the Forbidden City could not prevent foreign interests from subverting the power of the Chinese government (Carter, 2011).
Three Surprising Things about This Course
The first thing that surprised me from this course is learning how culture can in effect be used as a weapon in order to control a society in order to have it conform to the wishes of those who conquered it. The second surprising revelation from this course is related to how historical events have a great deal of relevancy towards understanding the actions of countries at the present.
For example, the history of what the European powers did to China now makes it clear as to why China is suspicious of foreign actions within its sphere of influence. Lastly, one of the more lasting surprising impacts from this course is how various aspects of ancient traditions continue to survive despite hundreds of years of change and various attempts at stamping them out completely.
Useful Knowledge from This Course
The main thing that I learned from this course that I believe would be of great use to me in the future is the way in which it has revealed how past actions can have far reaching ramifications even hundreds of years in the future. Through this understanding I can now reasonably predict how the current actions of states at the present could have long term effects through a variety of positive or negative outcomes.
Carter, D. (2011). Nationalism and revisionism in East Asia. Contemporary Review, 283(1701), 176.
Gibson, J. R. (1978). European dependence upon American natives: the case of Russian America. Ethnohistory, 25(4), 359.
Weeden Sr., T. J. (2009). Kenneth Bailey’s Theory of Oral Tradition: A Theory Contested by Its Evidence. Journal For The Study Of The Historical Jesus, 7(1), 3-43