Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Study Culture?

Sameer and I both lived in apartments south of the university. We used to walk home together from the library.

"In my country," He loved to talk about Nepal, ". . . in my country, we never, never drop our parents to the old folk's home. They live in your house, you will treat them with respect. And when your father tells you what your career you will have, that is your career. That's how we do it. Family unity is more, more important than any desire of an egomaniac child."

And then it would be my turn. "In my country. . ." I'd try to explain how the American theme of Independence affects the way we live family life--but I couldn't do it without the sense of guilt for our inconsiderate and self-serving ways. I was enchanted by Sameer as he continued to offer me opportunities to question life as I knew it.

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I began to realize that what I had always thought to be human nature, wasn't. Culture is more than

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Numbers: Racial Diversity at the Utah State Fair (2011)

Markus T. Boddie
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The 2010 Utah State Fair advertisement campaign, featuring a soulful character in retro clothing singing sensual songs while stroking a pig, or eating funnel cake, shouldn't have come as a surprise--Jared Hess's directed works always carry a tone of charming irony. But the commercials never made it to the screen. The Fair Board decided they would use the audio from the ads for radio advertising, but argued that the video ads were too sensual and reached the wrong "demographic." Hess concluded that the board pulled the ads because the performer, Markus T. Boddie, is African American. Oddly, the radio spots (same content and lyrics) would have been sexier than the T.V. commercial ads, because in video form, the sultry lyrics are sung to an animal, or a deep-fried pastry, making the whole thing silly, rather than really sensual. Here's the statement Boddie made to KSL on the matter,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

American journalism, and the slanted tale of violence in Palestine

This is the third installment in The Culturalist's 2011 Series on Islam.

My recent interest in local Muslim perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have led me to an fascinating organization: If Americans Knew founded by California journalist, Alison Weir. Weir started the organization when, following a trip to Palestine, she realized that the mainstream media (ABC, NBC, CBS, NY Times, NPR, et. al.) were offering an

Friday, September 9, 2011

One Muslim's Perspective: What Utahns don't know about Palestine

This is the third installment in The Culturalist's 2011 Series on Islam. 

Ever have one of those days when your own ignorance hits you in the face? That was me a few weeks ago. I realized that all the information ever presented to me on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been markedly myopic. Why is it that I'd  never heard the Palestinian side of the story, not once?

Rose Shultz
I finally found an excellent primary source who let me interview her this week. Rose Shultz is a Utahn, and a convert to Islam. She worked for Salt Lake City Police Department for 16 years, and recognized after 9/11/2001 that the police here were profiling Arabs. This led to her great quest for knowledge, which has included three University of Utah Bachelor's degrees (Political Science, International Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies), and several trips to Palestine. She is currently working on a doctoral dissertation.

Before answering my interview questions, Rose gave

Friday, September 2, 2011

One Muslim's Perspective: Utah and Religious Discrimination

This is the second installment in The Culturalist's 2011 Series on Islam.

What is it like to be part of the Muslim minority in Utah? This kind of question is best answered not with a generalized summary, but by hearing the perspective of one individual at a time.

Maysa Kergaye, the woman who spoke at the Islam presentation I attended at the Salt Lake City Library last month, agreed to answer a few personal questions through facebook a few days after the presentation. I asked her to speak as an individual, so please note that she is not speaking for all Muslims.

Q: Do you ever experience discrimination here in Utah because of your religion?
A: I think everyone experiences