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Lesson Plans


Re: CELEBRATING PLURALISM

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Graeme Chalmers (gfchalm)
Tue, 11 Feb 1997 10:33:23 -0800 (PST)

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Hi Terry:

You raise an issue that needs to be addressed, and I wish that our panel was
still in place so that we could share multiple perspectives. Hopefully
others on artsednet will chip in. In CELEBRATING PLURALISM (p.12) I
acknowledge the dangers of "cultural relativism" which David Pankratz
defines as "the co-equality of fundamentally different frames of thought and
action characteristic of diverse cultures." For many the example that you
cite is unacceptable. You are like others who point out that "Many
societies . . . condone violence, subjugate women, practice racisim, pollute
the environment -- and these practices [maybe] should not be valued, no
matter what their cultural context." (p.12) It is hard to disagree with
this position. In CELEBRATING PLURALISM I go on to state: "I will suggest
that students should make art that is directed against such evils. However,
I maintain that we should study the art forms of such cultures within their
own cultural contexts, because the study of politics and ideologies is part
of the study of art. Rarely is any culture either all bad or all good. In
approaching art education, we need to see culture through anthropologists
eyes." (p.12)

I'm sure that others will want to get involved.

Graeme

At 10:45 AM 2/11/97 -0500, Terry Barrett wrote:
>Dear Graeme,
>
>I've been loosely following your interesting and valuable dialogue about
>multiculturalism, and the general theme I'm raising here with one example
>you may have already dealt with. If so, I apologize.
>
>I was troubled to read in yesterday's newspaper an AP story entitled
>Gahanaian Priests Still Taking Girls Into Slavery. According to the
>newspaper account, slavery has long been and still is a part of Ghanaian
>culture. The Ewe word trokosi refers to wife of the gods and the still
>extant practice of appeasing war gods for misdeeds of ancestors by
>sacrificing vestal virgins from every new generation. Daughters as young
>as ten are handed over to temples where they are servants until they begin
>to menstruate and then become the concubines of priests. When they reach
>middle age, the women are released, to be replaced by yet another virgin
>from the same family. The practice dates back to the 17th century and is
>also practiced in neighboring Togo, Benin, and Nigeria where it is believed
>to have originated.
>
>As I read the article, I couldn't escape ironic associations with the
>current discussion about celebrating pluralism. How are we art educators
>to deal with cultural differences such as this one?
>
>Sincerely,
>
>Terry Barrett
>Professor, Art Education
>340 Hopkins Hall
>Ohio State University
>Columbus, OH 43210
>614.292.4741
>barrett.8
>
>
>
>
Graeme Chalmers
Graduate Adviser
Department of Curriculum Studies
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V6T 1Z4

Tel: 604 822-4842
Fax: 604 822-9366


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