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CLTR 1001

What is Culture?

the arts and other manifestations of human
intellectual achievement regarded collectively :
20th century popular culture.
• a refined understanding or appreciation of this :
men of culture.
• the customs, arts, social institutions, and
achievements of a particular nation, people, or
other social group : Caribbean culture | people
from many different cultures.
• [with adj. ] the attitudes and behaviour
characteristic of a particular social group : the
emerging drug culture.
Middle English (denoting a cultivated piece of
land): the noun from French culture or directly
from Latin cultura ‘growing, cultivation’ ; the
verb from obsolete French culturer or medieval
Latin culturare, both based on Latin colere
‘tend, cultivate’ (see cultivate ). In late Middle
English the sense was [cultivation of the soil] and
from this (early 16th cent.) arose [cultivation (of
the mind, faculties, or manners)] ; sense 1 dates
from the early 19th cent.

What is acculturation?
DEF: Assimilate or cause to assimilate a different
culture, typically the dominant one [ intrans. ] :
those who have acculturated to the U.S.
[ trans. ] : the next weeks were spent
acculturating the field staff | [as adj. ]
( acculturated) an acculturated Cherokee.

Acculturation is the process of becoming cultured / a

process of transference.

Semiotics = signs & symbols

Culture is learned - socialisation!

Primary socialisation - within the family, one learns
language, gender roles are learned

One's culture is determined by

- Biology (physical composition)
- Sociology (socialisation)

The word culture has currency to the creation and

use of symbols which distinguish a particular way of
life, people, group or humanity in general. Culture
has to do with the creation of symbols and signs
(semiotics) and the interperpretation of meanings of
the symbols.

Types of culture?
High culture ' Culture'
Low culture 'culture'
High vs low culture = European vs non-European

One can view most things on the 'art' level as well

as a deeper level with a cultural eye which would
raise and facilitate discussions on issues such as
politics, gender, race etc which is where we as
cultural studies students want to go.

High culture 'Culture'

- Artistic
- Way of life

Biases of the different disciplines

- Humanities and Education - High culture - Artistic
e.g. Shakespeare
- Sociologist/Anthropologist - Way of life
- Historians - Development of culture driven by time
- Anthropologist - Development of culture
( Definition of anthropology: the study of humankind,
in particular
• (also cultural or social anthropology) the
comparative study of human societies and cultures and
their development.
• (also physical anthropology) the science of
human zoology, evolution, and ecology. )
- Practitioner of cultural studies - bricolage
(def: (in art or literature) construction or creation from
a diverse range of available things : the chaotic
bricolage of the novel is brought together in a
unifying gesture. • something constructed or created in
this way : bricolages of painted junk.) tapestry
(def: used in reference to an intricate or
complex combination of things or sequence of events
: a tapestry of cultures, races, and customs.) - to
look at all aspects of culture and
everything related to it! Therefore a
practitioner of cultural studies may very
well have to conduct a research on
politics or geography to support his
5 essential questions that cultural
practitioners ask!
1) How do people become a part of a culture?
2) How does cultural studies interpret what is
meant by this?
3) How does cultural studies relate to the past?
4) Why are some forms of culture more valued
than other forms? (inequalities)
5) How is culture as power negotiated and
- Culture as power
- Culture as negotiated
- Culture as resisted

How did Cultural Studies emerge?

1960's in the UK
- Historical context - decolonisation
After World War II, Cultural Studies may
have existed in the Caribbean without a
name and even after it was named, people
in different countries/territories used
different names/ terms.
- Stuart Hall ( Jamaican)
- Berningham University in the UK
- first discussions on Cultural Studies
- Emerged to refashion the disciplines as
scholars needed to find solutions for the
disciplinary boundaries i.e. history,
geography, math etc. to a new school of
thought. Different scholars came together
to collaborate and to find solutions that
would go beyond the borders.

Regional debates about cultural studies

- Asia - Hong Kong
- Australia
- Latin America - Venezuela
- Africa
- India
Cultural Studies developed a reputation
for being anti and post colonial. Some
argue that cultural studies began in the
Caribbean region in the 1940/50s since
the Caribbean literatures facilitated
similar discussions while officially it is
noted to have begun in the 1990s. With
pioneers such as Bim & Bam, Louis
Bennett (poem "Colonization in reverse"
where Bennett uses high culture - through
poetry- to provoke socio-political
discussions via entertainment) and
Cultural Studies is
- Not fixed on what/how we look at things
nor is it fixed on one thing/topic… it is
therefore diverse!
- A deliberate attempt to break out of the
trappings of the discipline ( it is therefore
more than a text).
- a deeper look - behind the story
- How culture connects with other
disciplines such as politics and economy!
- Projects of reclamation as it seeks to
assess anything that may have been
discarded to see if it maybe relevant
now… and throwing out things which may
have been kept unnecessarily e.g.
Karl Marx as applied to Caribbean society.
- biased based on where the individual is
e.g. socio-economic, religion, ethnicity,
gender etc
- Interested in filling in the gaps where the
defined disciplines are falling short.

- Speaking of the other person (i.e. the
one being studied/scrutinized) possibly
in a negative way.
- To make into the “other” to separate
from the ‘our’; to make a distinction
(negative connotation)
- Reducing to a prescribed stereotype

def: leadership or dominance, esp. by one country or
social group over others : Germany was united under
Prussian hegemony after 1871.ORIGIN mid 16th cent.:
from Greek hēgemonia, from hēgemōn ‘leader,’
from hēgeisthai ‘to lead
- Greek origin
- Historical and geographic power
- Geographic power leads/lends itself to
hegemonic power
ruling or dominant in a political or social context : the
bourgeoisie constituted the hegemonic class.

Anarchy (Cultural Studies as an)

DEF: a state of disorder due to absence or
nonrecognition of authority : he must ensure public
order in a country threatened with anarchy.
• absence of government and absolute freedom of the
individual, regarded as a political ideal.

“Canon” – an icon/ something of note and


Popular culture
Cultural Hegemony
Origin of hegemony
Hegemony (e.g. plantation society)
- What would be achieved through
cultural hegemony?
- Power – linked to political/economic
- Leadership

Cultural Hegemony
- The influence exerted by the powerful
to the others be it force or otherwise
- Cultural power
- N.B. Geographic power leads/lends
itself to hegemonic power

Hegemony & the status quo

-The way a dominant group is able to
inforce its cultural values as the status
-The leading class is able to subordinate
the lower class by its status quo e.g.
through advertising/media (e.g. Band-Aid
was usually manufactured in a flesh tone
for whites, since it was made for them…
coloured people were never in
consideration until recently…. Or Clarks –
this was an elitist object based on the
cost, durability etc… now however the
elite class has to change their preference
since Clarks is now seen as something
ghetto or associated with the ghetto… it is
now common… too common… Or
Blackberry- originally for the upper

Status quo
DEF: the existing state of affairs, esp. regarding social
or political issues : they have a vested interest in
maintaining the status quo.
ORIGIN Latin, literally ‘the state in which.’

Hegemony is able to manifest itself

- Administration (laws etc.)
- Language
- Currency
- Political institutions/alliances

Hegemony can be abstracted and can

exist as an abstract e.g. the Monroe
doctrine 1823

Key Hegemonic powers/regions (colonist)

- European Union
- England (Queen of )
- India
- China
- Japan
- Israel
- Germany

How is hegemony executed/ exercised?

- Investment – conditionality – things are
dictated in agreements
- Cultural influenced (not forced) –
through the media – music, film
industry (Hollywood, Nollywood,
Bollywood, cinema), fashion (hair –
African hair is often portrayed as
nappy etc which affects and leads to
us questioning our ideologies), sports
(e.g. cricket, football, etc), festivals
(carnival, thanksgiving)
Hegemony can be linked to globalization,
multiculturalization and has the potential
for global/cultural war!

Hegemonic dissolution – Brian

- in Jamaica for example the subordinate
will dissolve the hegemony not the
hegemonic states
- When ideas of morals etc begin to
reverse is when hegemonic dissolution
occurs e.g. Barack Obama as the first
black president of America
- In Jamaica for example the way one
operates outside of the law e.g. times
for parties to end when the law states
otherwise, spelling of artiste names,
dress – sagging of the pants,
underwear showing etc

Common sense = cultural sense?

Common sense and cultural sense are
All notions are NOT natural
- They are learnt through socialization
- They are influenced by hegemonic
powers – geographical – historical
(colonization etc) – cultural
SEE GRAMSKEY – sociologist – Marxist

Hegemonic dissilution in the Caribbean

based on
- delinquency
- Dancehall music
- Hair styles
- Dress
- Religion
- “Anancy” folklore – about hegemonic
- Fluffy in JA- bridging the notion of what
is the ideal weight
- Condoms specifically for black males

Resistance is the way people resist


Is JA exerting cultural hegemony?

- Sports e.g. Bolt
- Politically – Borrel was invited to be
one of the 12 Goodwill ambassadors in
South Africa
- Music – Dancehall

Tutorial question #1
“Culture is one of the most loaded
concepts today in the Academy ranging
from the cliché to the core of intellectual
discources. Define the term culture and
access the major criticisms.
- Ways of life