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Folk and Popular Culture


... even nearby places Himalayan Art Geographers P. Karan and Cotton Mather studied a ... different foods Food taboos are also found in cultures dominated by ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Folk and Popular Culture

Folk and Popular Culture
Why Is Folk Culture Clustered?
A groups unique folk customs develop through
centuries of relative isolation from customs
practiced by other culture groups Folk customs
observed at a point in time vary widely from one
place to another, even nearby places Himalayan
Art Geographers P. Karan and Cotton Mather
studied a 1500 mile corridor in the Himalayan
Mountains -found 4 distinct culture groups 1.
Buddhists (southern Tibet, China) 2. Muslims
(eastern Pakistan) 3. Hindu (northern
India) 4. Anamists (Myanmar, near Bhutan)
They studied art from each group and found
distinct elements in each groups artistic
subjects They found unique customs among these
groups in art as well as dance, music,
architecture, and crafts
Influence of the Physical Environment The idea of
environmental determinism is that the environment
causes social customs Modern geographers reject
this idea because many different peoples live in
similar environments but adopt distinct social
customs Also, examples exist of people living in
different environments who adopt similar social
customs The environment is only one of several
controls over social customs
The environment can influence certain elements of
society such as food, clothing, and
shelter -Arctic residents wear fur-lined boots
for protection against the cold -people living in
warm, humid climates may not wear any shoes -the
Dutch wear wooden shoes because the wood is
waterproof and much of that countrys farmland is
often wet folk societies are particularly
responsive to the environment because of their
low level of technology and prevailing
agricultural economy -folk cultures are extremely
diverse, even if found in similar
environments -not all residents in wet
environments wear wooden shoes
Distinctive Food Preferences Folk food habits
also derive from the environment Humans need to
consider the environment when deciding what foods
to produce (soil, climate, terrain, vegetation,
rice or wheat) -rice demands a mild, moist
climate -wheat grows in colder, drier
climates People adopt their food preferences to
environmental conditions
Soybeans toxic in their raw state, but
excellent protein when cooked In Asia, fuel
sources are scarce So, Asians use soybeans in
many of their foods -soy meal requires less
cooking than other foods In Italy, quick frying
foods became popular partly because of wood
shortages In northern Europe, abundant wood
supply allowed for longer cooking (slow-roasted)
Food habits are strongly influenced by cultural
traditions What a group of people eat often helps
to determine social, religious, and ethnic
characteristics the surest way to identify a
familys ethnic origins is to look in its
kitchen Even after a group moves and their dress,
manners, and speech become indistinguishable in
their new culture, old food habits are one of the
last traditional folk customs held onto
Folk customs believe that everything in nature
carries a distinctive characteristic -so, people
may desire or avoid certain foods
Certain foods are eaten because they are
perceived to enhance desirable qualities Abipone
Indians (Paraguay) eat jaguars because they
believe it will make them strong, brave, and swift
The mandrake plant of the Mediterranean area is
thought to enhance the power of love
People also refuse to eat certain foods thought
to have negative environmental connotations
Taboobehavior restrictions of a society based
on social customs The Ainu people of Japan refuse
to eat otter because they are believed to be
forgetful and consuming them could cause memory
Most mainland Europeans felt potatoes were to
blame for ailments such as typhoid, tuberculosis,
and famine
Mbumkpov women of Chad refuse to eat goat or
chicken before becoming pregnant -thought this
takes away pain during child birth
Trobriand Islands off of eastern Papua New
Guineacouples are prohibited from eating meals
together before marriage -premarital sex is
accepted by this society
Most food avoidance customs arise from cultural
values rather than from environmental factors
Well-known food taboos are found in the
Bible Hebrews were prohibited from eating
pork -partially a result of environmental
concern --pigs were not suitable for the
pastoral nomad lifestyle of the Hebrews, and its
meat spoils quickly in the warm Mediterranean
climate Muslims also have a pork taboo -also in
part environmental -pigs are not suitable for
the dry Arabian Peninsula climate -pigs would
compete with humans for food, and would not be
able to carry loads, pull a plow, or provide
milk or wool -raising pigs in Arabia would be an
ecological disaster
Hindus also have a taboo against consuming
cows -also traced partially to environment -cows
are the source of oxen (castrated male
bovine) -when the monsoon rains come, every field
in India needs to be quickly plowed -so a very
large supply of oxen are needed Although these
taboos are partially environmental, they cannot
be explained only by environmental factors
Social values also have an important role in
taboos -because people in similar climates with
similar income levels consume different
foods Food taboos are also found in cultures
dominated by popular culture -in US, Americans
do not eat insects, although they are very high
in nutritional value -Thailand and Myanmarthey
deep-fry and ground giant water bugs into their
foods for nutrition -Americans do eat canned
tomatoes and mushrooms which often contain
insects (although this is not commonly
  • Folk Housing
  • The house is a good reflection of cultural
    heritage, current fashion, functional needs, and
    the impact of environment
  • The type of building materials used to construct
    houses is partially influenced by environmental
  • -the lack of trees in the Great Plains region of
    North America caused many American settlers to
    build sod homes
  • Two most common building materials in the world
  • Wood
  • Brick
  • Stone, grass, sod, and skins also used

Wood is the preferred material -but less
expensive materials may be substituted --using
drywall instead of wood for interior walls The
orientation of houses can vary between
societies Fijieastern wall is considered
sacred Chinanorthwest wall considered
sacred Madagascarhomes also have religious
considerations -main door always faces
west -north wall honors ancestors -beds
placed against east wall, heads point
north Javafront door always faces
south -South Sea goddess holds key to the Earth
Housing forms are related to environmental and
social conditions -pitched roofs needed to
facilitate runoff in wet or snowy
climates -windows face south in temperate
climates for aid in heating -windows are smaller
in hot climates
U.S. Folk House Forms Older homes in the U.S.
display local folk-culture customs -as pioneers
moved westward during the 1700s and 1800s, they
cut trees to build their houses, barns, and
fences -the style of pioneer homes reflected
whatever upscale style was prevailing at the
place on the East Coast from which the family
migrated from -houses built in the U.S. in the
past 50 years display popular culture influences
  • Three Major Folk Housing Culture Hearths
  • New Englandmigrants brought their house types
    west through the Great Lakes region and into
  • mid-Atlanticmigrants brought their housing
    styles through the Ohio River Valley and through
  • Lower Chesapeakemigrants moved southward along
    the east coast
  • -basements are more likely to be found in
    northeastern homes than in southwestern homes