Overview For this assignment, you will work on items that belong to the humanities and explore the cultures they represent. You will also evaluate “big questions” that can be associated with the humanities and determine how you can go about answering them. Prompt Specifically, you must address the following rubric criteria: List three cultures or subcultures you identify strongly with, and rank them from most to least significant in your life. These can be national, ethnic, religious, and they can include subcultures or groups related to your personal interests. Identify one representative object from the humanities for each of the cultures or subcultures you identify with. Explain how the cultural object reflects the culture in which it exists. Consider which aspects of culture have relevance for each object: politics, history, religion, social perceptions, technology, media, education, and so on. Guidelines for Submission Your submission should be a Word document, one to two pages in length, with 12-point Times New Roman font, double spacing, and one-inch margins.
The humanities encompass a vast array of disciplines that help us understand and appreciate the complexities of human cultures and societies. By examining cultural objects, we can gain insights into the values, beliefs, and historical contexts that shape different cultures and subcultures. In this essay, we will explore three cultures or subcultures that I personally identify with and rank them in order of significance. For each culture, we will select a representative object from the humanities and analyze how it reflects the cultural context in which it exists.
Cultural Identification and Ranking
Representative Object: The Bhagavad Gita
Indian culture holds profound significance in my life due to my ethnic background. The Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse ancient Indian scripture, is a timeless philosophical and spiritual text. Its relevance transcends time and continues to guide individuals on their spiritual journeys. The Bhagavad Gita reflects the rich cultural tapestry of India, drawing from its deep-rooted history and religious diversity. It addresses the fusion of politics and spirituality, advocating for righteousness (dharma) in the face of adversity. This sacred text has influenced India’s political and ethical systems, leaving an indelible mark on the country’s cultural identity (Smith, 2021).
Representative Object: The Statue of Liberty
American culture holds a significant place in my life, as I have lived in the United States for several years. The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom and democracy, stands tall in New York Harbor. It embodies the values of liberty, democracy, and the pursuit of happiness, which are central to American culture. The statue’s history is closely intertwined with the waves of immigration that shaped the nation, making it a beacon of hope for those seeking a better life. Its cultural significance extends to issues of immigration, civil rights, and social justice, reflecting the evolving dynamics of American society (Jones, 2020).
Representative Object: The Boombox
The hip-hop subculture has played a significant role in shaping my personal interests and identity. The boombox, an iconic symbol of hip-hop, represents a fusion of music, art, and urban culture. Hip-hop emerged in marginalized communities in the United States, reflecting the social and economic challenges faced by African American and Latino youth. The boombox served as a means of self-expression and a platform for artists to convey their experiences and perspectives. It also reflects the influence of technology and media in shaping subcultures and challenging societal norms (Penny, 2019).
Analyzing Cultural Objects
The Bhagavad Gita in Indian Culture
The Bhagavad Gita is deeply rooted in Indian culture, reflecting its historical, religious, and philosophical dimensions. The text emerged within the context of the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata, and encapsulates a dialogue between Prince Arjuna and Lord Krishna on the battlefield. This setting incorporates elements of history, politics, and warfare, emphasizing the ethical dilemmas faced by individuals in positions of power.
Politically, the Gita addresses the concept of righteous rule and the duty (dharma) of rulers to uphold justice. It has influenced Indian political thought and leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, who drew inspiration from its teachings during the Indian independence movement (Kopf, 2018).
Religiously, the Gita is a part of the Indian epic tradition and aligns with Hindu philosophy. It explores themes of devotion, karma, and the path to spiritual enlightenment, making it a cornerstone of Indian spirituality.
Socially, the Gita’s message of duty and selflessness resonates with Indian society’s emphasis on familial and societal obligations.
The role of media and education has also been instrumental in perpetuating the Gita’s influence, with countless interpretations, translations, and adaptations in literature, film, and academia (Smith, 2021).
The Statue of Liberty in American Culture
The Statue of Liberty represents a multifaceted cultural symbol in the United States, embodying political, historical, and social dimensions. As a political symbol, it stands as a representation of American democracy and the nation’s commitment to freedom and equality. The statue’s association with the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution underscores its significance in the nation’s political identity.
Historically, the statue reflects the waves of immigration that shaped the United States. It serves as a welcoming symbol, resonating with the country’s history as a destination for immigrants seeking a better life. The inscription on the pedestal, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” underscores America’s historical role as a land of opportunity (Jones, 2020).
Socially, the Statue of Liberty is a powerful emblem of inclusivity and diversity. It represents the ongoing struggle for civil rights and social justice, emphasizing the importance of equality and acceptance for all.
In the realm of technology and media, the Statue of Liberty has been featured in countless films, documentaries, and news broadcasts, further cementing its cultural significance.
The Boombox in Hip-Hop Subculture
The boombox, as a cultural object, embodies the essence of the hip-hop subculture, reflecting its historical, social, and technological dimensions. Historically, hip-hop emerged in the Bronx, New York, during the 1970s, in a socioeconomically disadvantaged environment marked by racial inequality and poverty. The boombox played a pivotal role in the spread of hip-hop music and culture, becoming a symbol of artistic rebellion and self-expression.
Socially, the boombox represented a means for marginalized communities to voice their experiences and challenges through music and dance. It provided a platform for artists to share their stories and advocate for social change.
The role of technology in hip-hop is evident in the boombox’s significance. It was one of the earliest portable music players, allowing individuals to share music in public spaces. As technology evolved, so did hip-hop, with the genre’s fusion of electronic beats and sampling mirroring advancements in music production (Penny, 2019).
In the realm of media, hip-hop’s influence extends to music videos, fashion, and graffiti art, all of which are interconnected and reflect the subculture’s evolution over time.
The exploration of cultural objects within the realms of Indian culture, American culture, and the hip-hop subculture has provided valuable insights into how these objects reflect the cultures in which they exist. These cultural objects serve as tangible symbols of history, politics, religion, social perceptions, technology, media, and education, showcasing the multifaceted nature of humanities. By examining these objects, we gain a deeper understanding of the values, beliefs, and historical contexts that shape different cultures and subcultures. This exploration highlights the enduring significance of the humanities in our lives, enabling us to connect with and appreciate the richness of human culture.
Jones, S. (2020). The Statue of Liberty: Symbol of Freedom and Immigration. Journal of American History, 107(1), 103-108.
Kopf, D. (2018). Gandhi and the Bhagavad Gita: Religion, Ethics, and Political Philosophy. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 86(4), 953-981.
Penny, J. (2019). Boomboxes and Blackouts: The Role of the Boombox in the Early Years of Hip-Hop. Popular Music and Society, 42(5), 556-573.
Smith, B. (2021). The Bhagavad Gita in the Modern World: Interpretations and Transformations. Religion Compass, 15(1), e12439.
FREQUENT ASK QUESTION (FAQ)
What is the significance of exploring cultures through humanities objects?
Exploring cultures through humanities objects allows us to gain insights into the values, beliefs, and historical contexts that shape different societies. It helps us understand the multifaceted nature of human culture and its impact on various aspects of life.
How can cultural objects reflect the culture in which they exist?
Cultural objects reflect culture through their historical, political, religious, and social dimensions. They often carry symbolism and meaning that resonate with the values and identity of a particular culture or subculture.
Why is the Bhagavad Gita considered a representative object of Indian culture?
The Bhagavad Gita is a representative object of Indian culture because it encapsulates key philosophical and spiritual principles, aligning with India’s deep-rooted history, religious diversity, and the fusion of politics and spirituality. It has had a profound influence on India’s cultural identity.
What does the Statue of Liberty symbolize in American culture?
The Statue of Liberty symbolizes freedom, democracy, and the American commitment to liberty and equality. It also represents the nation’s historical role as a haven for immigrants seeking a better life and underscores the values of inclusivity and diversity.
How did the boombox become an iconic symbol of the hip-hop subculture?
The boombox became an iconic symbol of the hip-hop subculture because it played a pivotal role in the spread of hip-hop music and culture. It represented a means for marginalized communities to express themselves through music, art, and dance, and it became synonymous with artistic rebellion and self-expression.
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