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Issues with “culture”

The issue of values

The issue of values is difficult. Having different values is in many ways the core of diversity. They can also bring out the best in us when they relate to good principles of action and understanding.  Several points need to be considered though. One is that we can claim exclusivity …

Reading good fiction

How is it that when we read good fiction written by authors with completely different cultural backgrounds to our own, and about lives and histories that are so far away from ours, we are still able to make sense and even to identify with significant parts of what they write …

So what is culture?

So what is culture? Culture is whatever you see around you wherever you look. This is of course when you are looking at people; though it could also be wherever there is some sort of social behaviour going on – animals and perhaps other organisms. It might become ‘a culture’ …

Stepping out of the convenient

After a recent conversation with a colleague who referred to himself as a ‘non-native speaker’ I was shocked into yet another realisation about just how divisive the whole discourse about the native-non-native speaker divide is. This was shocking because I had never associated him with this label. I have spent …

No evidence

When I read novels by writers from supposedly very foreign places, like Nadifa Mohammed’s The Orchard of Lost Souls, about civil war-torn Somalia, there is absolutely no evidence of the non-Western cultural strangeness one might be led to expect. In this novel, the political and economic conditions are extremely and …

Making ethnographic narratives

I was overjoyed when I asked my students to write ethnographic narratives for their assignment and they did well. The rules were simple – 3rd person, no judgement of the characters, no adjectives or adverbs, no reference to country or cultural background, at least one character who comes in with …