My Perception of Culture

James Snead’s Repetition as a Figure of Black Culture (1984) changed my perception of culture and its development through time. Prior to reading this piece, I believed that culture was static in its improvements – that culture did not necessarily change but people did instead. When Snead claims that cultural repetition is not repetition at all but transformation instead (59), I (of course) made the connection to Black Panther (2018). One of the first images we examined in class was a still of the marketplace with futuristic buildings in the background (33:20) and it struck me as I had never noticed the cultural fusion they had built. I remember thinking of survivance, a term used in Native American studies and refers to the importance of survival and resistance during the Native American genocide. Wakanda survived due to the initiative that past leaders took after observing the grief in surrounding countries, closing their borders, and hiding their most precious resources. These actions also curbed outside cultural influence, thus further sealing the already established traditions and rituals in a nice, vibranium-filled package. Overall, this class has piqued my interest because it is making me reevaluate my stance on cultural discussions and has invigorated a passion for asking more questions about why things are the way they are.

2 Replies to “My Perception of Culture”

  1. I love learning about “survivance” here – it could be really helpful to think more about this in texts we’re reading, and about how the past and future might be said to survive attempts to eradicate them through “progress” and “progression”…thanks for reminding us, too, of the important role of “cultural fusion” in Wakanda, which is not an absolutist or essentialist Black space, but one that has elements of openness…

  2. I also thought about the concept of culture developing due to survival of the people. I think many cultures have had practices develop due to having to survive, may it be due to colonization, famine, extreme environmental conditions etc. I think the development of ideologies also evolve due to environmental changes. For example, the homophobic culture in India can be attributed to colonization as homosexuality is documented in ancient Indian art and it was only during the colonization era that homophobic ideals were enforced upon the population which developed into a cultural practice resulting in present day homophobia in Indian culture. The decriminalization of homosexuality that happened recently in India then can be seen as decolonization rather than progression because the acceptance of homosexuality was already part of Indian culture before the influence of colonizers.

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