My Cultural Autobiography i am Mexican American
o Paper entitled, My Cultural Autobiography o Please include the nautitle, your name, class title, date and instructor’s name in the upper right-hand corner of the first page. o 3 ½ to 4 ½ single spaced, 12 point font (make sure to meet in the minimum length) You may utilize the following questions and the information provided, along with your understanding of the anthropological topics discussed during this course to help you organize, process and create the outline necessary to complete this final requirement. The order of the questions are provided as a guide and you don’t have to answer all the questions. Please make sure not to give a personal history paper. For instance, telling me specific details only pertaining to your life that don’t explain your culture are NOT relevant for this paper. This would include statements only relevant to your life with no explanation how that relates to your culture such as “I have three brothers and one lives with my dad”. A better explanation would be “My parents got divorced several years ago which is accepted, but not encouraged in American culture. Children of divorce in America most frequently live with the mother, however due to changing gender roles, fathers are now more often gaining custody of children, which is why my brother now lives with our father.” Think about the anthropological terms and explanations provided in the videos and chapters in your book. To earn a high grade on the final, please make sure to incorporate anthropological terms you have learned throughout the semester in your paper. Some terms you may use are: ethnocentrism, enculturation, celebrating rituals, food have religious significance, the gender roles and constructions (cultural meanings, not biological), symbolic behavior (flags, wedding rings, money), impacts of globalization on your culture, how language reflects culture (status, gender, age, social variables), your culture’s group personality (cooperative, sharing, aggressive, egocentric), core values, kinship ties and descent, ethnic psychoses, cultural adaptation and evolution, economic systems (resources, labor, exchange of goods), marriage and family (obligations, rituals, expectations, divorce, nuclear/extended family, matrilocal residence), common-interest associations, age grading, class and gender groupings, function of arts, spirituality and religious beliefs. Use your book as a guide and answer these questions as an anthropologist would. See relevant chapters on corresponding topics below. Your papers may include the following: 1. In what culture would you place yourself? This is not the same as race. Was this the same culture you were born into or were you enculturated into another culture later in life? Is this the same culture as your parent or grandparents? 2. Describe your family structure (nuclear, extended) and kinship system (Eskimo, Iroquois kinship systems). These answers should include discussions about roles and numbers of children in that culture and how that is relevant to your culture? (Example: Are large families expected in your culture because of religious beliefs? Are half-siblings common – children of different fathers because of lack of marriage or the roles of males in that culture? Are male children expected? Does the oldest child have certain obligations?) 3. What are the religious beliefs in your culture (include those your family practices, as well as those others in your culture practice)? How do those religious beliefs affect who you are? (example: does it affect who you marry, what social groups you are part of, what foods you are allowed to eat) 4. As a child/adult what holidays or family traditions are celebrated in your culture? Describe in detail to who would be invited (extended family?), what food would be served, what rituals observed, and how long would the process would take. Would your family blend cultural traditions, like serving tamales at Thanksgiving. a. Example: Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Easter, Mother’s Day, Quinceanera, Day of Dead, Halloween family reunions, local festivals; any activities centered around food and family traditions. This deals with the cultural meaning of food and traditions within your family. b. Please Note: Everywhere in the world food in its specific varieties has tremendous emotional and cultural significance. In some cultures rice rather than beef is “real food for real people” while in others sweet potatoes constitute 90% of the diet. 5. What are your cultures gender roles? Do you align with these? What is the role of sexual orientation in your culture? What roles do gender play in your everyday life? (Do NOT say gender has no effect in your life. Every culture has gender roles and equality issues are still very prevalent today. Women are not paid the same, assume the same jobs, or have the same roles with children. Males in the same aspect, are often expected to the “breadwinners” in many cultures and that places a lot of pressure on men to succeed and have a good job.) 6. Describe marriage rituals in your culture. Are you married, single, divorced, widowed, other? Is this aligned with your culture’s values? (example: Are you expected to marry? Are you expected to marry someone of the same culture? Is divorce frowned upon? Do you have to marry in a place of worship?) 7. How are children viewed in your culture? Expectations. Gender differences. Adoption and abortion rules. Baby showers. What happens when a child is born? 8. Describe funeral rituals in your culture? (wakes, buried in 24 hours, drinking, praying, heaven) 9. What unique qualities do you possess that comes from your cultural up-bringing? For example, do you play a cultural instrument, know a cultural dance, can you speak multiple languages, do you know how to farm, can cook certain types of dishes, and so forth. 10. What was your most memorable encounter with someone from another culture/ethnicity? Was it a positive or negative experience? Share your first culturally diverse experience (school, neighborhood, travel, food, etc.) 11. What jobs have you held and are these jobs aligned with your culture? (Example: Does your culture influence what type of jobs you apply for or promote/limit your job choices? Do you work for a religious organization because of your culture? Would you ever work for an abortion clinic or would that conflict with your culture?) 12. What in common interest groups, organizations, or sororities/fraternities do you belong? 13. Where have you traveled in your lifetime? How have they stretched your understanding and capacity of the world and other cultures? 14. How do you best describe your character? Do you believe your answer to this question is influenced by your culture? (i.e. Are girls/boys suppose to be a certain way in your culture – quiet, gentile, outgoing, dominate and so forth) 15. Do you have any disabilities? How would that be handled in your culture? (family issue vs government issue) This list can go on and on. Please do your best to describe your culture in general (not just about yourself) . If you have any questions please do not hesitate to e-mail me or give me a call, I welcome your questions, thoughts and ideas. We learn by asking questions. What you learn and use the rest of your life is more important that the grade you receive. Common Mistakes Students Make on Final Paper • “I am American, therefore I have no culture” – if you say this, I will be very upset and you will have missed the entire point of this course. Think about the fact that Americans can practice any religion or none at all OR women can work even after having children and don’t have to cover their entire bodies OR Americans can eat food from China, Greece, Mexico, Thailand, Poland, and Germany all in the same week. • Don’t simply tell me, “I have six siblings” expand and explain in cultural anthropological terms, “Because I grew up in a Irish catholic family, having many children was expected and part of the culture and encouraged by our religious beliefs, therefore my parents had six children.” • Proofread, proofread, proofread – there is no excuse for poor spelling with “spell check”.