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Thoughts: Cultural Oppression as Abuse

Dear all,
I have been thinking about various aspects of culture and community and the ongoing effects of British oppression of other cultures. I have tended to start going off on tangents on other people's discussions as their opinions have begun to feed my thoughts. Sorry for that. I get interested in an idea and then I'm off. Instead of continuing to ramble on in comment fields..... I thought I should start a new discussion.

This was written in response to the idea that western (American and British) oppression of other cultures is akin to abuse. The ideas aren't fully formulated, and the facts not fully explored...yet! But this is a subject very dear to my heart and I would love to explore it further. Please share your thoughts and have a great weekend.

On Celtic Culture and British Cultural Oppression
It is interesting how you describe America's oppression of native culture as abusive as I have felt very much the same way about the "British" oppression of cultures in the United Kingdom. We don't refer to these cultures as indigenous however as the native cultures there, are themselves made up of a mixed bag of once invading people. England has been invaded and inhabited by peoples from all over Northern Europe since the dawn of time: Vikings, Celts, Normans, Saxons, Roman.

However, in the far corners of England and in Ireland are the remnants of people we most often refer to as Celtic in heart, soul and culture. They have been least affected by the "English" melting pot. They are the Cornish, the Welsh, the Scottish and the Irish. And there will be a few groups of people within those regions that will define themselves further. All these people speak a similar language believed to be of Celtic origin: Gallic, Gaelic or of Gaul (which is/was Northern France.)
I will need to look at the history in more depth at some point, but I think it was under Cromwell that England truly began to oppress the cultures of these people in order to bring everyone under one government and in line with one vision. This meant traditional clothing , music, song and language was attempted to be wiped out. In addition in Ireland, land was taken over, the original inhabitants were transplanted to less fertile land and exiled or executed. In the case of my own Irish ancestors, they were moved by force from their chiefdom in Leinster to Galway where they were given smaller patches of land and became tenant farmers under English landlords. During the famine in 1850 they moved to Lancaster, England to find work int he mines. That's how I came to be English!!!

I don't know if it is the western mindset that is abusive, but perhaps the patriarchal society. Celtic culture as well as native indigenous culture in America and Canada is actually matriarchal and based on the mother goddess and nature. Although today those cultures are a mix of celtic christianity or catholicism. which is a mix of spiritual connection to nature, worship of the virgin mary "the mother" and Traditional christianity I think. It is much more feminine I feel.

More thoughts…

The other thing I wanted to say was that I am wondering how much of the Britain and American culture of oppression has been borne out of this history. It was the English who came to inhabit America all those years ago who first oppressed the native cultures here and it is the English who as a country and culture have suffered through years of invasion and conquest themselves. Perhaps this cosmopolitan mixed bag of heritage that makes up every English person has created this culture of oppressing and invading others? This need for power and control over others.This continued "western" belief that if we successfully control another country then we can feel safe knowing they won't control us! perhaps. I think that was the original reason given for the war in Iraq and against terror?

My thoughts aren't entirely formulated at the moment so apologies to anyone reading this if I sound uneducated on the subject. These are thoughts and ponderings not facts. Another thought is that the English who first founded America, who first came here, did so to pursue a new puritanical lifestyle they did not feel able, or safe to pursue, in their homeland. When I think of this as an area of study I think of it as the psychology of nations. Just like people who are abusive have very often been abused and mistreated themselves, perhaps abusive cultures and nations are acting in a similar way, except instead of over a lifetime, over centuries.

Things are most definitely different in England today. The second world war and the threat of invasion and conquest from the Germans following the tragedy of the first world war in such a short time of history had a massive impact on the hearts and minds of all Britons which continues to impact us all today. Put that all together with the incessant grey skies and bad dentistry and is it any wonder we're a grumpy lot! Okay that last bit was a joke.

Much love to you all and thanks for listening.

Comments

Maria de Chirikof's picture

Hi

So glad you made a post and will write more later on but now I need to get ready for work. Does anyone remember who first used that term "western mindset" on here? I was going to go back and try to find it again but think I would have to start from before we started the weekly assignments to find it. I do remember thinking it was a good term for it so began using it too.

So look forward to this idea developing!

Maria

Maria de Chirikof's picture

sigh

I saw a great book going on sale that would be great for helping in research the Rome/British area but the price, ack! It is a shame that so many great books are so beyond my budget!

http://www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ID/86441

I think this greco/roman ideas was the start of the 'western mindset' where that idea that a few are "better" then the rest so it is ok to turn them into slaves. And how they justified running around the world and creating these huge "empires" by putting in charge people who thought like them in these places so they would not have to constantly fight the good people in those areas.

I don't know, I disagree a little bit about it being more Patriarchy then the 'western mindset' since I see the defining characteristic of this mindset as "selfish greed" and the hiding behind other ideas. Where for each area they take whatever the main 'things' in that area and hide behind them. So for woman they would hide behind 'patriarchy' and for men it would be 'feminists' and keep these 2 groups from talking to each other so they never discover their common enemy.

I think this is why ideas like 'The Blame Game' come from too. Where they do not want to accept responsibility for their own actions so make a big fuss about it and try to redirect it to elsewhere. And because there are so many areas that need work and people are passionate about they get away with it. So I believe to truly change things we have to point this out and make it known they are not fooling us with their divide and conquer tactics anymore. I mean, can you imagine if all of us woman lived in the same town how we would be more divided then we are on here and living in separate areas. It is because we all let go of our differences and instead embrace each other for support.

I really look forward to seeing it develop! I think it is very interesting to use the framework of 'breaking the cycle of abuse' as a tool for global peace inside a country.

Hugs,

Maria

Tina's picture

Thanks so much for responding!

Dear Maria,
Thanks so much for your comments.

After hearing your thoughts, I agree that patriarchy is not the right word int his context. Although I continue to be unsure of whether western mindset is a better description of that manner of thinking either. We should be careful not to tar all groups of people with the same brush, especially if the definition is a somewhat negative one. I, for one, am western but am a long way, I hope, from believing that I'm better than anyone else and that everyone else should be more like me!

That said, I am fascinated by how similarly nations seem to act like people. As if each one has its very own personality shaped by the collective hopes, dreams and fears of the majority of its people.

I am inspired by the work that you are doing to heal the Aleut and other indigenous communities. You have a friend in me. A western friend - white, middle class and English to boot - yet still a friend. I'm behind you and your work all the way.

Perhaps we can work to break this cycle of abuse together, or at least begin to heal from it.
Much love!
Tina x

Maria de Chirikof's picture

I know

It is something I do find hard to talk about sometimes because it is very real to me and something my daughters and I experience all too often. It is not me being mean or prejudice against 'them' but the other way around, I hope you do understand that much! But then there are the woman like you or the lady I work for currently, who have always been against that idea too.

I think to deny it is a Western Idea would be wrong but it is true that we do need to come up with a new term for it since many people do not agree with these same ideas and never did. Maybe we should pose this question in VOF Fans and get their take on it! It would make a fun discussion since I am sure I am still in a more 'ugh, I so hate them' frame of mind then others who have gotten past that feeling already and work solely from the solutions based perspective. It is one thing I look forward to learning during this journey together!

I do look forward to seeing your ideas develop since it is an interesting area and history, the UK I mean. I was telling some new lady about you. She is studying the Andean woman as part of her thesis and I told her she might find your research that you are doing of interest too. I will have to go find her name again since it has completely slipped my mind since I tried playing catch up on posts this morning...

love and hugs,

Maria

Tina's picture

Understanding

Hey Maria,
Sometimes I wonder if I should be commenting on your situation or discussing such ideas with you and other people on this forum because bottom line is how can I understand what it has been like for you and other people like you? I can't possibly really, but I am trying to. I am very pleased that you are open to the idea that we westerners are not all the same and I am glad you are interested in seeing these ideas develop.
Tinax

Maria de Chirikof's picture

Understanding

I actually love that you do take and interest in other cultures, mine included! I think it is working together that we can truly overcome all the past mess and create something new. I agree that most people now think this way so things are getting better, it just seems to be 2 steps forward one back so we need to keep reminding ourselves that our goals are worthwhile so to keep on going forward.

I don't think the feelings are that much different then what the Irish feel and love that you are working on healing that breach. I do love watching your thoughts progress on how and why and all that.

hugs,

Maria

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