Thursday, January 15, 2015

Our Hybridized Identities and Cultural Practices

Jonathan Sanchez
Lesson 2: Local and Global: Hybridized Identities and Practices
Reading Review and Personal Reflection
Essay (Breaking Down of the Other Through Art)
Though not an official companion to or on the list of suggested reading I found the writing from Wanda B. Knight entitled Never Again to be useful and insightful augmentation to the Frostig writing on the holocaust. All three papers address issues of place, personal and familial history and the possibilities artists and art educators have to start very meaningful discussions on these big ideas.
The holocaust works of of Frostig, and Knight discuss the ideas of authoritarian regimes pushing an agenda based on hatred. The Delacruz writing deals with a cultural and historic void felt by Chinese girls raised in a new culture. Frosting as an American trying to reconnect to Vienna and adopted Chinese children raised in America both find themselves searching for a sense of history, and place. As well the feelings of dislocation that the many adopted Chinese girls raised in the States tend to feel is similar to what Frostig describes. Giving the example of attempts at multi-cultural assignments in their contradictory effects, the sense of being out of place is addressed. Though the paper addresses all recent immigrants, for adopted children or recent immigrants or second generation children whose families are not intact, "for the minority student whose family lineages ..are in flux..these assignments may be confusing, invasive, humiliating..or nearly impossible to complete." (Delacruz, 2012 pg. 235).
Another theme that surfaces in all three writings is stereotypes versus the real. Creating stereotypes according to Knights writing can exasperate the creation of the other (Knight, 2009, pg. 72). Further leading to the creation of less than human caricatures, allowing for the mistreatment of those falsely portrayed. In the case of the holocaust writings this formulation had dire consequences, in the case of the Delacruz writing these stereotypes result in, that (the children in question) never really felt accepted here by their ethnic group of origin...or by white mainstream Americans. Leading to the sense that Frostig echoes of not really belonging anywhere being between worlds due to a historically severed connection.
The final theme present in all three works relates to art education. They all seem to issue warnings or at least caution that the way art is taught can often have the opposite effect intended. That simply adhering blindly to standardized testing is still re-enforcing a sort of dogma (therefore a dominant white view). Finally, that a real and meaningful connection needs to be established to end racism one student at a time.
Specific terms culture keeping reminds of the Chien-hua Kuo article which describes the scholarly efforts to create a suscint Taiwanese identity through children's books, and other teaching aids. In a sense recent immigrant or adopted international children are also trying to create their own national identity and hopefully find their place in the larger US mainstream. Similarly Frostig writes of reclaiming here German Jewish heritage, will immigrant populations also follow this process? Frostig describes constructivist educational approach as, one that is an inquiry-based pedagogy, which promotes deep understanding (not imitative behavior). This thinking can be applied to all the of the writings addressed in this essay, racism is imitative status quo, stereotyping is similar, and ethnic food fair type educational efforts only re-enforce (by trivializing), the dominant culture.
Personal Response
Most of my cultural practices stem from marrying a European person. It has necessitated spending large amounts of time in Europe, using German and creating a household that follows many rules of Swiss culture.
If my wife and I are at my parents house they know before eating to state, En Guete (pronounced, In gweta) the most basic of Swiss expressions meaning enjoy your meal or good appetite etc.. So though we did not grow up saying that it is now commonly used in my household and that of my parents when visiting. When entering a Swiss household you will always deposit your shoes at the front door. As a result at my home there is always a pile of shoes at the door one pair mine the other six belonging to my wife. Though unnecessary I think on some level it feels more like a Swiss home when there are so many shoes at the door. Its little cultural things that make our home in the States or in Europe feel a little more Swiss than American. 
At Halloween while living in Switzerland I had to carve a pumpkin it was fascinating and strange to see but everyone in the neighborhood had to steal a peek at this glowing head in the window. I had big Thanksgiving dinners which the French, German, Italian, Swiss and Austrian guests that experienced that meal with me found very enjoyable and beautiful. In some ways these meals broke down the poor stereotype of burger eating Americans they had to rethink American food and Americans. In many ways living abroad made me feel more American and living in the States makes me feel more European. I notice the many European mostly Swiss things that I do.
As far as a global identity I am constantly aware of what is going on in Europe through friends and family there and feel I am in part there through my family. At least once year I return for a family visit and reconnect with the language and culture and definitely have the feeling the world is connected and what goes on in the States is no mystery to Europeans. 
Viewing the States from abroad one has the feeling we live in a glass house but have no concept of that. It seems even the worst of our culture is copied, or outright exported to the point of it feeling oppressive or invasive. I was so saddened when my little niece at four when given the choice between eating a special meal at grandma's for her birthday or going to McDonald's picked McDonald's  I saw the problem with globalization right there, it can replace your own culture with a far inferior imported one. The sense that we are connected shapes my beliefs and thoughts on what it is to be American and what America as an entity should and should do globally. As well I feel the need to walk more often, consume less and be more European in short less wasteful or gluttonous  so my worldview is shaped by my connections to Europe and the frugality I learned living there.
Delacruz, E. M. (2012). What Asian American artists teach us about the complicated nature of
      21st century Americans’ multilayered, transcultural, and hybridized identities and art
     practices: Implications for an intercultural and social justice oriented approach to teaching Art. In Chung, S. K. (Ed.). Teaching Asian art (pp. 234-240). Reston, VA: National Art
      Education Association

Frostig, K. (2009). Transnational dialogues dealing with Holocaust legacies. In Delacruz, E. M.,
     A. Arnold, M. Parsons, and A. Kuo, (Eds.), Globalization, art, and education (pp. 60-67).
     Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

Knight, W. Never Again: A (K)night with Ben, (2009). Delacruz, E. M., A. Arnold, M. Parsons,  
    and A. Kuo, (Eds.), Globalization, art, and education (pp. 68-75). Reston, VA: National Art
    Education Association.

Kuo, C. Taiwanese Picturebooks and the Search for National Identity (2009). Delacruz, E. M., A.
    Arnold, M. Parsons, and A. Kuo, (Eds.), Globalization, art, and education (pp. 7-13). Reston,
   VA: National Art Education Association.

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