Encountering cultural encounters:Making connections & exploringdifferencesTonbridge, 23 June 2012
What is culture?
Culture in Book 3: We‟re interested in two sorts of culture, the first of which is to examine artworks such as statues, short stories and plays, alongside different cultural records such as medical texts. The second sense of culture we consider is the expression of the ideas and identities of groups of people. Danson Brown, 2008, p. v
Cultural Encounters Cultural Encounters signals our focus on the ways in which cultures interact, overlap and are transformed by these encounters. Danson Brown, 2008, Introduction, p. v
What sort of encounter?
(mis)understandingMr Sumarsono was now ready and he spoke. „Please!‟ he said politely. Mymother looked up again and realized this time what he was doing. She shookher head, raising her hands in deprecation. „No, no,‟ she said, smiling. „Not me. Don‟t take a picture of me. I wanted tosee a picture of your wife.‟ She pointed at Mr Sumarsono. „Your wife,‟ she said,„your children.‟ I was embarrassed not only for my mother but for poor Mr Sumarsono.Whatever he had expected from a country weekend in America, it could nothave been a cramped attic room, two sullen girls, a voluble andincomprehensible hostess. I felt we had failed him . . . I wanted to save him . . ..I wanted to liberate poor Mr Sumarsono from this aerial grid ofmisunderstandings. . . . But things had changed. Mr Sumarsono stood gracefully, firm and erect, incharge. . . . The absence of strut did not mean an absence of command, andwe now saw how an Indonesian diplomat behaved when he was in charge. . . . „No‟, said Mr Sumarsono clearly. „You wife.‟ He bowed firmly at my mother.„You children.‟ He bowed at us.
mis(understanding) But it is his picture of my mother that surprised me the most. Mr Sumarsono‟s portrait was of someone entirely different from the person I knew, though the face was the same. Looking at it gave me the same feeling that the sopped escalator did; a sense of dislocation, a sudden uncertainty about my own beliefs. . . . I could see for the first time that other people might think she actually was beautiful. Mr Sumarsono‟s view of my mother was of a glowing, self-assured, generous woman. And Mr Sumarsono himself was a real person, despite his meekness. I knew that; I had seen him take control. His view meant something; I could not ignore it. And I began to wonder. We still have the pictures. Mr Sumarsono brought them with him the next time he came out for the weekend. Roxana Robinson, „Mr Sumarsono‟, in Prescott, 2008, pp. 89-91
Jokes “Okay. A bunch of rafters are on the beach getting ready to sail off to Miami.” . . “So anyway a bunch of rafters are gathered there on the sand. And they‟re all crying and hugging their wives and all the rafts are bobbing on the water and suddenly someone in the group yells, “Hey! Look who goes there!‟ And it‟s Fidel in swimming trunks, carrying a raft on his back.” . . . “So one of the guys on the sand says to Fidel, „Compatriota, what are you doing here? What‟s with the raft?‟ And Fidel sits on his raft and pushes off the shore and says, „I‟m sick of this place too. I‟m going to Miami.‟ So the other guys look at each other and say, „Cono, compadre, if you‟re leaving, then there‟s no reason for us to go. Here, take my raft too, and get the f**k out of here.‟” . . . Carlos laughed long and loud. Antonio laughed too, but he was careful not to laugh too hard and he gave his friend a sharp look over the racket he was causing. He and Carlos were Dominican, not Cuban, and they ate their same foods and played their same games, but Antonio knew they still didn‟t understand all the layers of hurt in the Cuban‟s jokes. Ana Menendez, „In Cuba I was a German Shepherd‟, in Prescott, 2008, pp.22-23
UntransformedThis has nothing to do with me. It‟s about a young couple withthree children who moved into a house on my route the first of lastsummer. I got to thinking about them again when I picked up lastSunday‟s newspaper and found a picture of a young man who‟dbeen arrested down in San Francisco for killing his wife and herboyfriend with a baseball bat. . . . Henry Robinson is the name. I‟m a postman, a federal civilservant, and have been since 1947. Raymond Carver, „What do you do in San Francisco?‟, in Prescott, 2008, p. 65
Viewpoint• Who is narrating?• Whose encounter is this?
Playing with connections• Cleopatra• Benin• Shostakovich• Short stories• Pugin• ?