Monday, September 12, 2005

The old and new seem to live together quite peacefully in Taiwan, unlike some other countries, where Western culture is taking over Tradition. Here's MD's next to a traditional Taiwanese funeral (I think it was a funeral, but I'm just an ignorant Westerner, so feel free to correct me!).

7 comments:

ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

I don't believe that Western culture necessarily takes over Eastern culture, but elements of it are assimilated and a unique Eastern twist given to it. That is only because Asian cultures are open and willing to accept Western culture. Here in the West, Eastern culture with is often eyed with suspicion and scorn.
btw... nice informative blog.

RoG said...

I don't think that Western (ie American) Culture specifically takes over Eastern culture, I think it takes over ALL other cultures. There really aren't many places in the world not influenced by Hollywood movies, Western styled music, Macdonalds, and cheezy American pop idols. There will always be local flavours wherever you go, but America really is the dominating cultural force on the planet.

Emmie said...

i'd have to agree with roger on...(not that this is a little debating corner or anything like that) but ja, come on over and check it out for yourself ccbb (the east, i mean)- the degree of 'infatuation' with anything that's slightly american, is really scary...

Emmie said...

...on THIS ONE that is... :-)

Michael Turton said...

Most of what people view as "tradition" is a construction of the modern era reflecting back on the practices of the last 300 years, and most often, on the practices of the last 100. Just think about how people complain about the commercialization of Christmas when our Christmas "tradition" is basically 150 years old. People tend to legitimate their cultural practices by linking them to earlier practices and making them "traditional" and "authentic." But most practices are recent.

In any case, as the other poster said, people tend to assimilate outside stuff into their own culture, while redefining it to make it harmless. JUst look around you? What is Taiwanese? The buildings are concrete (a Roman invention). People where jeans and t-shirts (US). The speak Mandarin (imported post WWII) and to night markets (Chinese) to eat BBQ (Japan) and buy western style clothing. At home they read translations of international news done originally in English, watch TV (a western invention) and so on.... the trick with "tradition" is teasing out the redefinition of the Exotic so it becomes "traditional". We even refer to that young woman in front of us as "a real traditional Taiwanese girl" although she wears jeans, a bra, a t-shirt, panties, a pad for menstrual bleeding, eyeglasses, braces, and sneakers, none of which are Chinese, let alone Taiwanese, inventions, and she is going to the university, which her grandmother couldn't even dream of, and she speaks English and Japanese. But hey, she's "traditional"....

Michael

Red A said...

It's not western or American culture that takes over...it's MODERN culture.

Just that some of it looks American because we are modern and have Hollywood.

Or do you believe that the rampant spread of Chinese restaurants in America shows that Eastern culture is taking over America?

Because from Sequim, WA (equivalent to say Chia Yi?) you can eat at 8 different Asian restaurants and probably watch how many Asian channels on Cable?

How about Pokemon, Tamaguchi, and Anime, or the Korean Wave? It's not about American culture but the spread of international modernity.

RoG said...

Good one, Michael. I think you're right on this one. Maybe I should have changed my original post _again_ to mention 'modern' culture instead of western culture. However I still think that the West (ie America and Europe) has changed the world more in the last few hundred years than any other culture. Of course there have been many improvements to and innovations of 'Western' inventions, but the original innovators and cultural influencers have (I'm guessing here, no formal research done) been primarily Western.