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Re: CELEBRATING PLURALISM

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Terry Barrett (barrett.8)
Wed, 12 Feb 1997 10:04:13 -0500

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Dear Graeme,

Thanks for replying. I hope others join in on this particular topic.
These are obviously very perplexing and important issues and questions to
which I don't have answers.

How can you qualify with [maybe] your statement below about evils in
society, including the example I cited of reported rape of children by some
priests of Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria? I see nothing to celebrate or
respect or tolerate in such practice. Of course not all of Gahanian
culture is bad. In teaching about that culture, however, should we ignore
the bad, or condone it implicitly or explicitly, while teaching the good?
Should we teach about such practices as if they are morally neutral?

I look forward to yours and others' thoughts on these crucial matters.
Thanks for facilitating this discussion.

Sincerely,

Terry

>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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