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Sayre's Cultural Decentering

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Analyze and interpret the following quotation: "Worldwide, non-Western cultures faced fundamental challenges to their cultural identities" not so much a recentering of culture but a decentering of culture.

In the later nineteenth century and early twentieth century, what would a "decentering" of culture have meant for a given cultural group? Select from among the non-Western cultural groups noted in the text (Native American, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, or African) and research the impact of Western or European cultures on that group.

What was the selected non-Western culture like prior to the late nineteenth century? How did it change as a result of European expansion? How is this change representative of what Sayre calls a "decentering" of culture? Be sure to use specific examples and details.

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Dear Student,

Hello and thank you for using Brainmass. Since you did not indicate the current materials and theories used in your class, I've had to make some assumptions with regards to the concepts presented. I used generally available resources on the subject and with Sayre's definitions in place; I hope that this solution should be in line with the ideas discussed in your class. Nevertheless, this should get you started. Good luck!

OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

Decentering Culture: An Introduction

When we talk of a decentering of culture, we refer to the shift of focus from an established center to another, caused by varied influences and elements brought over from continued globalization, acculturation and assimilation of new observed standards and practices from other cultures outside one's own. In other words, there is a 'disconnect' from the original 'essence' of a particular culture that many can consider to be directly connected to a culture's origin where philosophies, traditions, standards and cultural codes are rooted in a culture's most ancient 'nature/beginning'. Consider this - a Japanese-American is decentred in that while he/she is raised with Japanese values due to the socialization given by his parents and immediate Japanese social environment (language, traditions, history, clothing, cuisine, religion), he/she can be decentred in that while he/she is born into this culture, being educated in the 'West' via active participation and adaption of the American way of life (education, philosophies, lifestyle), he becomes a 'de-centered' Japanese-American for he/she cannot fully judge his/her reality from a truly Japanese viewpoint for his/her American socialization will influence his/her ideas and choices. Same goes for his/her American nature as being raised in a Japanese family and intensely traditional parents, he/she cannot fully judge from the 'American center' - the decisions arrived will always be influenced by both.

Now, if decentering is about losing focus on what is traditionally the 'heart' of a culture, recentering is about 'going back' to the center, using the focus of a particular culture as the point of perspective from which to view reality. Consider the situations of Jews seeking admission into the Israeli nation. A number of Jews from all over the world including the US, South America, Europe and Russia seek entry into the Jewish nation by a process known as the 'Ulpan' - a recentering of perspectives to bring de-centered Jews into the focus of an Israeli Jew, and Israeli citizen. This does not mean that the Jews from countries outside of Israel are less 'Jewish' for their identity is rooted in their belief and shared history (i.e. the Holocaust) but the Israeli Jews have a different view of the world, a different set of priorities and a different view of what life is about. Russian Jews for example do not have to worry about the Palestinian threat nor are they automatically neither drafted into the military at the age of 17 nor are they 'on-call' at times of war and similar threats. To live in Israel is different - despite sharing the same belief systems, the environment, the landscape, the social and political situation - they are different. There is also that constant threat from Hamas in Palestine, from the Hezbollah in the North, from Al-Qaeda and from Iran. Israeli Jews are in constant alert and they are in the center of attention in the world stage for they occupy the most contested territory in history. The Ulpan 're-centers' newcomers into the Israeli culture, reshaping identities, priorities and practices, teaching the language, shared history, shared philosophy and shared realities of all Israelis to those who wish to be a part of the Israeli nation via the ...

Solution Summary

The solution is an extensive 2,229 word essay that tackles the notion that non-western cultures face decentering due to the challenges of globalization from the 19th century, to the 20th and the present. Particular events and affects in varied cultures are discussed as examples looking at the impact of Western culture in the culture and identity formation of said culture. The example of Sayre in relation to cultural decentering is used to illustrate the 'decentering' cultural change/influence. A word version of the solution is attached. References are listed for expansion. The essay follows the APA format.