Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where’s Gringo?

Because Americans are so geographically isolated, we are often less aware of the signature quirks of our own culture and perspective than are (say) people from patchwork continents like Africa, South America, Europe, The Artist Formerly Known as the Soviet Union, etc. Our biases hide in plain sight. For a dose of cultural perspective from the comfort of your own beanbag chair, do not miss American Cultural Patterns. I’m told this tiny little book was written as culture-shock prep for undergraduates who were entering the Peace Corps, and were traveling overseas for the first time. It delves deeply into kernel-level cultural assumptions about communication, values, morality, the perception of time and causality - the list goes on. In my experience, reading any three pages of this book provokes an hour of fascinated discussion over the late-night-coffee of your choice.

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