Unprecedented in the history of cross-cultural interactions is the concept of globalization



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Unprecedented in the history of cross-cultural interactions is the concept of globalization. Through the act of cultural diffusion, the integration of cultures is inevitable with the increasing cross-cultural interactions that occur in today's world. While globalization is now more apparent than ever, cross-cultural interactions have occurred throughout history, preceding even the Spanish Inquisition. While the integration of new culture traits is often done passively, there are many cases in which one culture is aggressively pressed onto another by egocentric oppressors. In response to this, there are several approaches a culture can take, ranging from simple compliance to resistance and revitalization movements. The happy medium in this respect would be a process known as syncretism, in which a culture absorbs the traits of another without removing their own. To demonstrate the various levels of globalization and cultural interactions, we will look at the Haitians, the Hmong and the Ojibwa.

Haiti, located on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, has been subject to outside cultural influence throughout its history. Initially inhabited by people deriving from Venezuela, the population was essentially taken over by Arawak horticulturists. When Columbus stumbled upon the island in 1492, he noted their friendly and peaceful nature as a weakness that would allow for their exploitation. It only took decades for their brutal enslavement to kill off the noted population exceeding some 400,000 people. After importing tens of thousands of African slaves, Spanish interests led them away from the island, which would soon be occupied by the French. As the number of slaves far outnumbered the number of slaveholders, the Haitian slaves finally saw their first revitalization movement, in which they revolted against their slaveholders. Over the next few decades, the independent Haiti would remain in turmoil, overthrowing one tyrant dictator after the next. The heavily poverty-stricken Haitians demonstrated several signs of inter-cultural contact in their every day life. While heavily influenced by the French, the French language is only spoken by 10 percent of the Haitians, namely the elite. All others spoke Creole. More evident yet is their religion. As dualism persists in many ways of Haitian life, religion is no exception. Haiti is said to be 90% Catholic, and 100% Voudon. While Voudon is the primary religion of the Haitians, Catholicism failed to stick in any lasting level, but instead remained but a face to religion. Other aspects of the religion are known to reflect Taino tradition, including the placement of elaborate designs made from cornmeal on the ground. The dualist qualities of Haitian culture can be seen as syncretist. Throughout its history, Haiti has been influenced by many different cultures, many of which have affected their culture for the years to follow.

The Hmong are a horticulturist people viewed often as barbaric by their surrounding neighbors, living in isolated mountainous villages in China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Through their thousands of years of history, the Hmong have resisted Chinese attempts to influence and conform them to the liking of Chinese culture. Because of their rigidity in maintaining their unique culture, the Hmong and the Chinese never got along. As they were largely outnumbered by the Chinese, the Hmong have been forced to flee to less ideal environments so as not to be exterminated by their enemies. For sustenance, the Hmong began by growing rice, corn, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. As they were driven to less fertile lands, however, they grew dependent on European trade, and their crop grew a higher focus on opium poppy. While the religious beliefs of the Hmong are animistic, some 10-20% of the Hmong people have been converted to Christianity through the influence of missionaries. It can be noted that the Hmong people have seen cultural influence in all forms, and it is visible in all the changes of lifestyle they have undergone.

The Ojibwa are a Native American group deriving from the Midwest United States and south-central Canada. It was the 1600's when Europeans first appeared in Ojibwa life. The presence of Europeans first caused war between tribes, as they competed to trade with European merchants. The Ojibwa drive to hunt for furs lead to massive expansion, which eventually broke the people up into four tribes. As the growing American population began to deplete the surrounding resources, the Ojibwa people became dependent on European trade, as big game was no longer available to hold them over through the harsh winters. As their land and its resources became more desirable to American industries, the Ojibwa were finally relocated, until they, much like the rest of the Native American tribes, were relocated into reservations. The religion of the Ojibwa was very individualistic, as it placed a high emphasis on one's spiritual progression through the visions provided by the spirits of their grandfathers. The Midéwiwin is an exclusive society within the Ojibwa whose members harbor the great secrets of healing and other various tidbits of spiritual knowledge. It is believed by anthropologist Harold Hickerson that the Midéwiwin did not always exist within the Ojibwa society, but were formed in response to the challenge of Christianity, arriving with the Europeans.

The societies of the Ojibwa, the Haitians and the Hmong have been subject to many cultural influences throughout their history, which has brought them to their current position in today's world. By observing the three cultures, one can point out all phases of inter-cultural interactions, and the effects they can have on a society. For example, resistance to outside culture influences were seen through the Hmong, spawning thousands of years of warfare between the Chinese people. At the same time, revitalization movements were seen in Haiti's declaration of independence from French rule, which led to the cleansing of all remaining white population throughout the land. A second revitalization movement was seen in the Ojibwa society, as the Midéwiwin society is believed to have been created to counter the threat of Europe's Christianity. In all three societies, one can observe the damages done by European trade, as it formed dependencies and disallowed them to function on their own. The process of syncretism was seen throughout the history of these societies as well, shown primarily in Haiti, as people merely added Catholicism as an additional practice to their already cherished Voudon, rather than replacing it. The Hmong showed a similar tendency as a percentage of its people converted to Christianity, while the rest remained in their animistic ways. While the virtuosity of aggressive cultural influence is certainly open for argument, cultures have ways of resisting these pushes when they are not welcome, as demonstrated by the Haitians, the Hmong, and the Ojibwa.


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