While reading the new introduction of “Culture and Truth” by Renato Rosaldo, readers can be confronted with statistical information regarding how diversity in higher education has changed over time, and how it has changed little. One of the most beneficial results of having a more diverse classroom setting is how class becomes ‘”richer and more complex, if perhaps less comfortable, for its broadened range of perspectives” as Rosaldo notes. This is undoubtedly true. If classrooms consist of more diverse people from different backgrounds, students can learn far more from each other. Excessively homogeneous environments, more often than not, tend to breed ignorance. And this ignorance doesn’t necessarily have to do with a society’s general intelligence -- it has to do with a form of mental stagnation from being accustomed to not being introduced to anything other than what a person would consider “normal.” And, yes, it may be very uncomfortable – but this is a good thing. Rosaldo discusses “safe houses,” and a classroom is, more often than not, an ideal place for this type of discourse.
A more unsettling fact is that, while college campuses are increasingly diverse today, the number of PhDs awarded to people of color is staggeringly low. As well, minorities still make up a very small percentage of those involved in college administration. This is why Rosaldo rightly emphasizes that in institutional authority “diversity must be present” (xi).
In the second introduction titled “Grief and a Headhunter’s Rage” Rosaldo attempts to rethink some classical anthropological norms regarding the way ethnographers analyze other cultures. His focus, here, is to explore the correlation between bereavement and why men of the Ilongots commit the act of headhunting when dealing with it. Rosaldo makes an important distinction in this fascinating section. He believes it is difficult for many ethnographers to accurately analyze this connection because it’s approaches the situation using anthropology’s classical norms: ones that “prefer to explicate culture through the gradual thickening of symbolic webs of meaning” (2). Why is this a problem? Because Rosaldo believes that anthropologists “overlook the force of a simple statement” (2). Instead, he believes that taking the Ilongot man’s word that “rage born of grief” should be explored in its most literal sense.
Rosaldo further investigates meaning and where it comes from. He specifically compares Calvinists to Ilongots because believes, for them, “meaning resides in practice, not theory” (6). The emphasis is practice is a very physical action, especially opposed to theory; and if this is the case, there could nothing further from intellectual contemplation than headhunting. It is, indeed, a very animalistic act to take someone else’ life in a completely cold-blooded act. But, at the same time, to deal with the finality of a loved one’s death must cause just severe anger that headhunting exemplifies the physical manifestation of that anger. I have not had to deal with the death of a loved one before their time, and I hope I don’t have to for quite some time. Attempting to picture what that grief would be like probably doesn’t even scratch the surface of what that kind of pain must be like.
In the portion of the introduction new to the 1993 edition, Rosaldo discusses how higher ed. has changed to be more inclusive and how that relates to the field of anthropology. He breaks down the changes in higher ed. in the last quarter of the past century and shows their limitations, including that the degree of change achieved was significantly less in positions of greater power and that the failure of institutions to more than superficially accept the presence of previously unheard voices led to people leaving soon after beginning (x). He then argues for the role of safe houses in cultivating “a sense of belonging” as well as offering “places where diverse groups—under the banners of ethnic studies, feminist studies, or gay and lesbian studies-talk together and become articulate about their projects” (xi). When more people are rightfully represented in decision-making processes, the experience can cause people who are accustomed to privilege to experience discomfort (xii). For the sake of saving space, the summary is that they need to get over it and adjust. Regarding course materials, he says “Looking in the usual places and in the usual ways will not produce change” (xiii). In a 2011 article about policy debates pertaining to models of ELL education, Lisa Dorner shows how people from different backgrounds alternately construe “community” to mean neighborhood, school, or cultural group (more like Glazer and Moynihan’s “interest group” that Villanueva invokes) and says almost the same thing as Rosaldo in reference to the responsibility of school districts to seek out the voices of marginalized parents to contribute to policy debates that affect their children’s education. I love the sentence toward the end: “the vision for change strives for greater inclusion, not an inversion of previous forms of exclusion” (xviii). This is a widely-held misconception around many social movements. People who identify as feminists, for example, constantly have to explain that they do not hate men but seek recognition of all people’s humanity. It is not about punishment but the need to “remake relations” (xiii).
As was the case with the Clifford reading from the first week, I found that the “reworking of anthropology at its core” Rosaldo calls for seems to be well underway (xvii). All the time we talk about how there is no “monopoly on truth” and how humans who study culture are cultural beings, too. There is less focus on structure and more focus on how people with agency interact with their values, beliefs, norms, etc. than in the past. I think we have moved away from isolating aspects of culture and come closer to his notion of “ritual as a busy intersection” (17).
Rosaldo had conducted fieldwork with the Ilongot people and sought to understand the practice of headhunting following a loss. He tried valiantly to arrive at an explanation that satisfied Insan, an insider, and himself. Until he unexpectedly lost his wife, however, he had not felt the particular grief that motivated the performance of the ritual. We read this in Anthropology of War and Peace, and although I remembered the main thrust, I relate to it in new ways. First, it fits into the idea of telling and retelling stories we have discussed in this class. In criticizing overly simplistic analyses of the past, Rosaldo points to the pitfalls of trying to “liberate such events from the untidiness of everyday life so that they can be ‘read’ like articles, books, or, as we now say, texts” (12). This is similar to how we are opening our understanding of rhetorics to more than texts.
On a personal level, one passage in particular struck me differently now that I am in my last year of this program and contemplating my next move. He talks about how anthropologists attempt to prepare themselves before engaging in ethnography but how no amount of preparation will be enough because “Their analyses always are incomplete” (8). It would be incredibly arrogant to think I could comprehensively describe another person’s experience or even my own, but I still imagine that there is some threshold of training I have to cross, after which I might feel ready to start trying. Given anthropology’s past, I often second-guess how possible it is to engage in decolonized anthropology and defend that there is any value in it, but this is reassuring: “Consider, for example, how age, gender, being an outsider, and association with a neocolonial regime influence what the ethnographer learns” and “By the same token, so-called natives are also positioned subjects who have a distinctive mix of insight and blindness” (19).
Villanueva also discusses representation in higher ed. and the number of PhDs awarded in English to people of color and women. I can feel his anger when he s
On the Rhetoric and Precedents of Racism by Victor Villanueva is a very interesting and eye-opener perspective on the racism social discussion. He claims that the society have been, somehow, ignoring the issue of racism and that it should be analyzed and not forgotten. Villanueva notes that “Racism continues to be among the most compelling problems we face. Part of the reason why this is so, is because we’re still unclear about what we’re dealing with, so we must thereby be unclear about how to deal with it.” (3) The fact that racism is not discussed and faced in a blunt and undimmed fashion makes it a confused concept to deal with. Throughout the article he provides some interesting statistical information about the participation of Latinos and Latinas, African American, Asian Americans, and Native Americans in higher education in the United States of America. These data show clearly a low percentage of participation in higher education, compared to the white population, of these minorities which does not allow the scholar world be, in fact, multicultural. According to Villanueva, many may argue that this phenomenon is due to “reverse discrimination”, but he firmly discards this idea since these minorities are still the poorer and unschooled with no possibility nor chance to reverse discriminate. He believes that by breaking the colonialist discourses and behaviors, which in his opinion “racial discrimination and racial prejudice are phenomena of colonialism” (7), and by giving the minorities chances to graduate, and furthermore to be published and teach he thinks that racism can truly be faced and fought.
Renato Rosaldo, the author of Culture & Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis , in the introduction, seems to address the same lack of ethnic diversity in higher education issue, portrayed by Villanueva although more comprehensive, as he states that “The general goal is to achieve diversity in all rooms, decision-making rooms, classrooms, faculty rooms, rooms of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. In order to democratize higher education, people need to work together to change the present situation where the higher perceived social status of the room less diverse its membership.” Rosaldo thinks of the racism issue in similar way as Villanueva, although less passionate and more pragmatic. He assumes that by allowing university boards and decision-makers be more diverse will provide better and more efficient decisions that ultimately will benefit more staff, faculty and students. So diversity should be praised and sought in all areas of university life.
Rosaldo provides an interesting way to observe how influenced can be culture research results, depending on the researcher’s own life strive, and also engagement. In his opinion, he was unable to understand the Ilongots anger after losing relatives which motivated their headhunting behavior, until he had lost his wife. At that point he was able to be in the Ilongots position and be able to feel what they felt and finally understand. He makes a good point by showing that the study of other cultures and ethnographies, as they were at the time, wouldn’t provide real and satisfactory results since the behaviors, traditions and motivations of the studied were merely seen and not felt. Rosaldo perceives that the researcher and researched study is mutual; it is an exchange of information and, thus, the way studies were done should change as he notes: “Social analysis are also analyzing objects who critically interrogate ethnographers – their writings, their ethnics, and their politics.” He brings a different approach to culture study by adding emotion, engagement and subjectivity to the culture research process.
James F. Blandino - 10/7/14, Cultural Rhetoric, Critical Response #5
Ethnography is extremely limited in its ability to document what Rosaldo calls the “cultural force of emotions”. Rosaldo writes that the “concept of force calls to attention an enduring intensity in human conduct that can occur with or without the dense elaboration conventionally associated with cultural depth.” His journey to document the headhunting customs of the Ilongot, in the northern Philippines, reveals problems with the conventional mode of enthnographic anthropology. The ethnographer is removed from the culture they wish to write about, limited by their own life experiences, and biased by their educational background and cultural norms; therefore, unable to fully recognize the depth of experience and emotion of their subject matter.
The Ilongot give a very basic reason behind their practice of hunting human beings in order to decapitate and ultimately toss away the head of a victim. “He says that rage, born of grief, impels him to kill his fellow human beings . . . the act of severing and tossing away a victim’s head enables him, he says, to vent and , he hopes, throw away the anger of his bereavement.” The ability to comprehend the emotional force that instigates such behavior is dependent upon the personal life experiences of the anthropologist, ethnographer, documenting the phenomena. Rosaldo readily admits that before experiencing the tragic loss of his brother and wife, he was unable to grasp the Ilongot concept of rage in grief. Looking back on the situation after having gone through losses that inspired the kind of rage described by the Ilongot elder men, Rosaldo feels naïve. He writes, “My own inability to conceive the force of anger in grief led me to seek out another level of analysis that could provide a deeper explanation for older men’s desire to headhunt.” Rosaldo will not listen to the simple explanation provided to him by the Ilongot; his mind is limited to what he knows about grief from his personal experiences and from his own cultural norms. He shuts down the Ilongot explanation because he finds it “too simple, thin, opaque, implausible, stereotypical” and he begins to search for other ideas, outside the Ilongot culture, in order to explain the headhunting custom to his readership through his writing. He looks to classic idea of “exchange theory” in order to apply meaning to the custom.
This is dangerous; the Ilongot perspective, though vocalized to the cultural anthropologist in the hopes of informing the global populace, is effectively silenced by the limitations of an immature ethnographer. How much of what we think we know about other marginalized cultures is completely misunderstood due to the inherent limits of ethnography? The documenters of culture are looking through a veil of their own understanding of the world and this often prohibits them from seeing the emotional forces at play. They choose to document rituals rather than looking at the multifaceted attitudes within a culture towards death and bereavement. Ethnographers like to study ceremony because it happens within a defined time range and location. Ethnographers see the surface: what does a wedding ceremony look like, a funeral, a rite of passage, etc…? These customs only show a piece of the process in dealing with emotional forces. The color of the brides dress is not as important as understanding her apprehensions about the transformation she is making. Life is messy and tough to pin down into neat categories, not everyone in a culture buys in to the norms, the rituals and ceremonies that mark such occasions. It makes me think about the Catholic Mass. Certainly, some people in attendance are in lock step with the priest and gain a sense of hope from the words being spoken, while others are daydreaming about football or sex during the sermon. For some the priest is uttering platitudes while others believe his words come directly from God. Ethnography can never account for the wide spectrum of perspectives within the culture that is being catalogued.
I enjoyed reading Culture & Truth: Remaking of Social Analysis by Renato Rosaldo. It brought to mind a conversation I had recently. I was talking to a friend about running and how I run best when I’m angry or happy and I run terribly when I’m sad. He told me that most people are unable to differentiate between the emotions of sadness and anger, often confusing anger for sadness. In this piece we learn that the Ilongot men are impelled to kill other human beings out of rage that is “born in grief”. Unlike the discussion with my friend about my experience with these emotions and the experiences of others in our culture, the Ilongot are aware that one emotion precedes the other and know what the eventual outcome will be. When I first read this, I had to stop, take a second to see if my “what the f***k” reaction was an overreaction… but no, it was entirely accurate. It’s pretty much what Rosaldo was getting at; we can’t fully understand something if we’ve never experienced it. I was blocked by my own cultural views and I still am. I get why they do what they do and it makes sense that this is their norm so why should they think it is wrong. Personally, I’ll pass on experiencing something so horrible that I am full of rage and want to kill someone, but I can see how if I was in that situation I would be able to relate and therefore allow myself to imagine what the rage they feel in their bereavement feels like. At this point in my life I can’t do that but one day (hopefully not) maybe I could. However, I do feel that personality plays a role in it. I mean, I was going to join the navy (don’t look so shocked) but I know that if it came down to it, I would not be able to kill someone; I would let myself be shot. Maybe I’m an idiot or maybe I’m way too empathetic and try to understand others too much, but most likely I’m probably just an idiot (stop it, I jest). This is directly related to what Rosaldo says, which is, “after being repositioned through a devastating loss of my own could I better grasp that Ilongot older men mean precisely what they say when they describe the anger in bereavement as the source of their desire to cut of human heads.” Maybe I would be able to kill someone if I was so broken and hurt inside that anger was all I had left. Aside from that, I really like the idea of repositioning yourself. You rework your mental framework in order to better understand an entirely different perspective; you’re looking at a situation but with another cultural view. However, the ability to ‘reposition’ yourself comes down to your experiences which provide you the tools to actually understand something as intense as the rage felt by these people. In the introduction, the sentence, “Human beings always act under conditions they do not fully know and with consequences they neither fully intend nor can fully foresee” stood out to me. I’m pretty sure that this is relevant to every person’s life; at least it is to mine, which is obviously unrelated to this topic. I digress. We are disconnected to our emotions on so many levels and it’s because we are told that certain feelings aren’t appropriate or should be suppressed. In On the Rhetoric and Precedents of Racism piece by Victor Villanueva, I was shocked to read about the non-white students’ feelings that, “they no longer wish to be reduced to wearing white masks if they are to succeed in the university, that the denial of their being of color affords them nothing but their silencing.” I don’t think that this is as big of an issue at our university, but the fact that people still feel this way is a huge problem. No one should have to hide who they are, nor their feelings like in the first piece we read, in both the educational institution as well as in everyday life.
” Culture and Truth” by Renato Rosaldo
The introduction examines the evolution of diversity in higher education. I found it interesting that the approach to “bring in” a more diverse population (both student and faculty), did not include how to retain them. In turn, it became a numbers game by showing the public a specific percentage of a diverse student/faculty body, but never really considering ways to maintain their ‘numbers’. The intro goes on to show the growing understanding of administration, in their attempts to maintain their diverse populous; programs focusing on cultures and ethnic courses of study, while grouping diverse students in the classroom. Overall, I thought the concept of “just reel them in” and “let them fend for themselves” horrible, It seems like it became more of a political game to keep percentages high, rather than to retain the diverse population because the institute wanted to satisfy them.
Today, it doesn’t seem to be as much a numbers game, but more like the majority of the students/faculty
come from a variety of backgrounds and the options available are easily accepted. With all the intercultural relationships, it has become more of a societal norm to expect opportunities to include various culture or ethnic nuances.
The rest of the work was interesting for me, especially when Rosato examines “rage and “grief”. As I have lost many family members, including a niece and her fiancé just two years ago, I could relate to the inhumane reaction of grief. Rosato explored the reactions, both physically and psychologically in reference to loss of a loved one. Psychologists are adamant that there is a grief process that takes place, specific stages that family members, etc go through after a loved one is lost. Rosato explored the physical reaction of his anger and how it was transferred into its grief. Per psychology’s stages of grief, the initial reaction to death is usually anger, which Rosato clearly experienced. For me, it was easy to relate it to my own life experiences. With the loss of a love one, every individual will react differently.
Overall, I think it is important to consider background and culture with how a person will react to a loved one’s death. If religion and customs are a huge part of ones upbringing, spirituality and beliefs will be the main focus in an individual’s reactions when facing grief. I know in my family, with the loss of my niece and her fiancé, we experienced lots of anger about the event. In turn, I also know we relied on our religious beliefs and family traditions towards lost family members to aid us during a trying time. I would enjoy looking further at how culture and ethnic views could impact or influence the reactions from loved ones who experienced loss.
On the Rhetoric and Precedents of Racism, by Victor Villanueva, is a “wake up” call for equality and identity preservation. The article starts by presenting the impositions, in terms of beliefs and mannerisms, made by the Spanish to the Incan people. The Europeans believed that their Gods, Kings, and their education should be the only foundation upon which the Incan people should stand and assimilate. Nonetheless, the Incan people also had their own history, Gods to worship, things that were part of their identity. For the Europeans, the only identity worth knowing was their own, and the Incan people ought to embrace this new identity whether they wanted or not. Villanueva then “jumps” to a more contemporary time, addressing ethic and racial discrimination in the United States (U.S). He uses the examples of the Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, as being the minority groups in the U.S, and who are deprived from the same opportunities and treatment as the White majority. In Schools, the discrimination is more evident since the number of people from the minority groups who graduate is more insignificant. This is more evident because the people of power in schools, the faculty or administration, are not representative of these minorities, therefore they cannot understand or “defend” the minorities. Villanueva also does not seem to understand how people, even from the minorities, do not seek the literature from the Latinos, Asian, etc., when they need to talk about these minorities in order to tell their own story. “ Whe are so locked into the colonial mindset that we are now turning to the excolonials of Europe to learn something about our own people.”
Culture & True, from Renato Rosaldo, tries to promote diversity in higher education. Rosaldo starts by talking about how slow and even “traumatizing” the process of transition from a privileged to a diverse College/University environment can be. He argues that the benefits from this diverse environment will make classes richer, more complex, and different perspectives and dynamics will become normal, which will make the experiences fruitful to everyone: “The moment classrooms become diverse, change begins…new pedagogies begin…new courses and new texts.” (xiii). Rosaldo then introduces a chapter where he talks about Grief and a Headhunter’s Rage. Here he introduces the Ilongot people, from the Philippines. For the Ilongot people it was something normal to headhunt (cut a man’s head), which was justified by grief and rage. Romano did not understand, and even condemned, why the Ilongot would want to cut off a human head. The Ilongot people then were forbidden to practice their headhunting, which made them turn to religion, specifically Christianity, in order to ease their pain. Eventually, when Romano himself experienced the loss of both his brother and wife, he finally felt what the Ilongot felt when they lose their closed ones, which made Romano experience feelings he never felt before. There are cultures who have their own rituals and perceptions when it comes to death. No one knows how death affects each person individually, the way it makes them feel and the instincts it triggers, which makes it easy for someone to judge the way others deal with their woe. Condemning the Ilongot people seems easy, nonetheless, we forget that there are other cultures that must be respected, in the name of cultural diversity. I am not defending that cutting their people’s head off is fine, but like the European colonialists, we may be trying to impose our own beliefs and mannerisms by saying they are wrong rather than trying to understand.
“The Culture and Truth” according to the author, it focuses on recent development in higher education and then to address the role of anthropologist in these changes. The author discusses the changes that have been occurred in the educational institutes. The book celebrates the multicultural, the diversity and narrative experience of the author. This passage called my attention “we are all equal partners in a shared project of renegotiating the sense of belonging, inclusion, and full enfranchised in our major institutions”. People of color, Latinos…may not feel as a part of a certain society. The idea of belonging, inclusion and emancipate can be abstract; some situation may lead people to have a sense that they do not belong to a certain place, they are not a part of it and they are not entirely free. The author points out the importance of consider ourselves equal partner so that we can renegotiate those truths.
In the Grief and a Headhunter’s Rage, the passage “he says that rage, born of grief, impels him to kill his fellows human beings” (Renato Rosaldo 1). Here it seems that Ilongot man kills his fellows due to the fact that he find in this ritual a way of throwing away his anger of his bereavement. Ilongot man may be seen as bad person for performance this ritual, but often time I believe they were not taught how to treat his fellow. Man attitude, often time reflects his culture; this ritual it is something they inherited from their ancestors Ilongot man were born in an environment where they learn that behead his fellow is a motive of pride and he becomes an adult and loses his status of novice.
It is interesting how Renato Rosaldo investigate different society and that society reaction toward death. Throughout the text we can see different emotions toward death. Emotions vary depending on our position in a culture. I have never experience death in order country but I am sure it is different from my country. The author discusses how people converted to other religion due to the grief of loss.
I was overwhelmed by grief while I was reading the “On the Rhetoric and Precedent of Racism”. Victor Villanueva portraits many different painful situations in which racism is the main reason. “racial discrimination and racial justice are phenomena of colonialism”. I do agree with Villanueva. The idea of discrimination … has been with us since the colonialism period. It has been with us during the era that one class was considered superior and could hold control over the other one considered inferior. It is undeniable that the racism we experience today is a reflex of what our ancestor experience. I have never been through this experience but I have sense that it hurts anyone that experiences it. I believe racism will never end. People will change over time, some will end up by accepting their fellow as equal but not everyone will share this feeling.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.