Type: Exploratory
Pages: 4 | Words: 992
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

When two cultures meet, there is bound to be a cultural crash. However it should be noted that no culture is superior to another. Indeed all cultures are transitory and dynamic as the society itself. What happens after a cultural crash is that neither of the parent cultures remain the same. What is formed is a hybrid, portraying characteristics of both parent cultures (though in varying ratios). This cultural transmutation may be said to be a fulfillment of the Yeatsian prophecy in The Second Coming.

The relationship between the African and the Englishman was based on a master-servant basis. The understanding (misunderstanding) of the Englishman is that he was the symbol of God’s light, and his was a divine duty to deliver the African from “The Heart of Darkness.” This misrepresentation is compounded by a long history of explorer, traveler and missionary experience recounted in travelogue and the popular press (Blake, 1988).

Unlike the Native American experience, the African was uprooted from his home and transported to the Americas via the infamous slave trade. Here the African man had to live. But man cannot be without a culture. Culture is based on experience. His experience was complex. He had the shades of Africa, a home he could never go back to, he was also required to play the role of a stranger in another land — as a slave. This experience is varied from other world experiences. The Native Americans, for example was relegated to secondhand citizenry (Fischer, 1989).

In pre-modern times it should be noted that the processes of cross-cultural interactions had repercussions that went beyond the experiences of their participants. Bentley notes that the processes had a significant impact over and across the societal boundaries and cultural region demarcations. He identifies three processes in particular: mass migrations, long-distance trade and imperial expansion campaigns. Mass migrations, he notes, brought economic, political, cultural and social transformations. Empire building, on the other hand, had an impact on the historical development. Yet these empires enjoyed a culture that was pre-dominantly independent of the parent culture. Finally, there is the long distance trade. In this category squarely fall the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and its effects.

Do the Englishmen and Africans perceive the world the same? Do the Chinese and the Russians see the world in the same light?

The answer is no. No two cultures perceive the world in exactly the same way. Perception is the manner in which an individual selects, evaluates and organizes stimuli into a meaningful experience. It is therefore in order to say that perception is selective and is culturally determined. Herein is to be found the negative aspects of cross-cultural exchanges. First there is the creation of stereotypes. In stereotypes there is no perception of individual behavior, in stead, what is perceived is the behavioral norm of members a particular group.

Stereotypy is most destructive if it is held subconsciously. A subconsciously held stereotype reflects reality and thus is difficult to modify. Stereotypy has, as history has proven, led the African to perceive any Whiteman not as an individual but as a member of an oppressive and exploitative class. The African has, through out history, perceived the Englishman as a destructive force and has always been treated with the greatest suspicion.

Stereotypes can be either good or bad. The myth of “˜mainstream Americanism is also another tool meant to impose cultural hegemony. The Native Americans have been sidelined. There is no common American culture. What we have is an agglomeration of cultures. Instead the powers that be suggest the existence of an American culture so as to sideline the African-America, the Latin-Americans and the Native-Americans.

And like the Chinese proverb says, Heaven is high, the Emperor is far away. The empires created during the campaigns of imperial expansion developed to different entities from the mother nation. The New England and Chesapeake colonies were both settled by immigrants from England. The geography of two regions made the difference inevitable. But it is to be noticed that the two regions are primarily different due to the initial motivation for settlement by the pilgrims of this New World. The colonizers came to the New World for different reasons. The New England colonies were created by Puritans escaping religious persecution in England, while the Chesapeake colonies were primarily created by companies interested in profiting from the natural resources of the New World. (Countryman, 1996)

The founders of the New England colonies were a group of people that believed in the sanctity of hard work and equality in men. The founding fathers of New England believed that all men are equal and therefore none should be master over another. On the other hand, their Chesapeake counterparts believed in the profits of employing slave labor in the tobacco industry. That is the source of antagonism — as the New Englanders preached to end slavery, in Chesapeake slavery was lucrative.

Most people in New England were literate and they studied their Bibles in detail with their friends and family. However, a strong focus on family, education or religion was not an important aspect in the livelihood of the Chesapeake colonists.The New England settlers were driven by the desire to find and settle in a land of opportunity where they could better their lives and exercise their religious freedom. Theirs was the desire to create a society in which their energies would be focused on the family, religion and education. The Chesapeake colonists were not running from England seeking religious or social freedom, theirs was a greed for a nirvana of wealth abundant. Tobacco soon became a most common and lucrative cash-crop. Herein is where slave labor came to play an important role — African slaves working on the land was the order of the day.

These two regions may have shared a common ancestry and the same language for communication, but they rarely worked to the same goal. Of all the factors that contributed to the differences, religion was the ultimate difference between the two regions by 1700.

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