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Latin American Cultural Heritage, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Cultural heritage serves the purpose of explaining the origin of observed unique trends witnessed in present societies. Cultural heritage studies traces back the origins and development of cultural values held by a certain society today. Major cultural norms within any given society evolved through time to their present status. Within any given social setting, cultural values manifests themselves in the physical, natural and the intangible assets of a that population. All these elements are responsible for propagating ancestral cultural values through history to their present status within the modern diverse societies. On the aspect of physical factors, such elements like building, clothing, and landscape monuments communicate the unique values of any given culture (Hoffman 28). The intangible assets include religious beliefs, language, and intellectual properties. On the other hand, natural heritage manifests themselves in features like the economic aspect of natural resources, unique landscapes, wildlife, and the general biodiversity surrounding a cultural group.

Current societies depict cultural practices through modes like films, arts and music. These observable features in modern societies make it easier to trace the origin of cultural practices within the cultural group under consideration.  Evolving social dynamics provides a way of carrying forwards these cultural elements from one society to anther through history. In this regard, cultural values are transferred from one generation to another. Current cultural values practiced within any given society originated from past generations. In addition, the current generations maintain these cultural values in their social and economic practices, by integrating the main elements of culture into their practices in latest generations. These values will be bestowed to future generations for the benefit of perceived importance of these practices. Based on this theoretical extrapolation of cultural heritage, I will illustrate the concept by tracing down my cultural history from my great grandparents to my generation (Hoffman and Ready 45).

In an effort to trace my cultural background, I collected some information regarding my ancestry background starting from my great grandparents. The immediate members of my society and my parents played a great role in providing information concerning my great grandparents and my grandparents’ history. According to these sources, both my great grandmother and my great grandfather were of the American Indian ethnic group, popularly known as the Indigenous American people in present times. Both my great grandparents were born in Peru in between the years 1804-1812. This was during the period when most Latin American nations gained their independence. During these times, economic and social activities among the colonized Latin American population had gained significant momentum in their growth. Therefore, substantial economic and social developments transpired through most Latin nations, including Peru (Hoffman 61).

My Great grandparents belonged to a Peruvian indigenous ethnic group known as the Quechuas. Both my great grandparents lived through their childhood to their adult lives in Peru. They got married and raised their family in the Ancash region found in the Peruvian Conchucos district. After independence, a part of the population in Peru embraced western education brought by Portuguese and Spanish colonialists. My great grandparents had the opportunity to acquire little formal education in art and social sciences. In the succeeding generation, my grandfather was born in Peruvian Conchucos district region between the years 1895-1897. This was during the time when social movements evolved in most Latin American nations. People were fighting for equality in wealth distribution (Navrud and Ready 62). It was during this time that the Peruvian government sponsored my grandfather’s studies in Mexico. My grandfather studied economics in Mexico and worked there through his youth age before returning to Peru when he was 35 years old. On the other hand, my grandmother was had a European-Amerindian ancestry. They met with my grandfather in Mexico. After their marriage, they lived in Peruvian capital Lima for about 20 years after which they moved to the US.

With respect to occupation and social class, my great grandfather spent most of his life as a portrait painter around the home district in Peru. Their education level and my great grandfather’s artistic career placed them in an elevated social standing within his society. The Peruvian population valued the artistic aspect of portrait painting (Navrud and Ready 87). In addition, the little formal education gained by my great grandparents helped then access information and resources in their society. In the case of my grandparents, both my grandmother and my grandfather had formal education and were employed. Therefore, they were in a better economic and social position than majority of the Latin American population in the US (Hoffman 31). My father was born between 1945 in the US state of California where my grandparents had settled and worked after moving from Peru. On the other hand, my mother, born and raised in the California capital, belongs to the Asian-Amerindian ethnic group. My parents met during their college times in Los Angeles and started their family in the city of Oakland before moving to our current home in San Diego.

Being educated and employed, my parents maintained the social class developed by our grandparents. In this regard, there was a significant mobility of class from one generation to another in my family. The main factor that might have contributed to this mobility is the element of inheritance in the Latin American culture. Social and economic inheritance characterizes Latin American population in their regions (Dark 51). Therefore, my grandparents and my parents inherited cultural and economic values from their preceding generation in the family line. Other factors like race and gender influenced adoption of the current structure of my family today. From the family’s history, Amerindian race dominated the family tree. Therefore, there was no significant change in cultural practices caused by integration of other races into the family. With respect to the level of education, gender inequality contributed to the exhibited difference in education levels of the male and the female members of my family. Based on cultural values inherited from past generations, men are highly educated compared to their female counterparts in the family (Dark 138).

The cultural ancestry of my family tree centered on Amerindian practices and beliefs. However, there was incorporation of other ethnic groups into the family line through its development. For example, my grandmother was a European-Amerindian while my mother is an Asian-Amerindian. Despite integration of other ancestral species into the family tree, the Amerindian or Latin cultural practices, and features still dominates in my generation. Religion and social elements like art and music is one of the indications, which serves to show the dominance of Amerindian cultural aspect in my family. My great grandparents were Roman Catholics. Presently, both my parents are Roman Catholics. This shows than integration of other ethnic groups into the family tree presented minimal effects in its cultural subscriptions. In this context, the patriarchic nature of Latin American societies is the main reason for the dominance in Amerindian culture in my family (Fitz 47). Both my great grandfather and my grandfather were pure Amerindians. Therefore, my family’s cultural practices moved along the patriarchic linage.

Social aspects like language and religion adopted by Indigenous Americans originated from the European colonialists (Fitz 78). In this regard, Spanish and Portuguese are the major languages spoken within Latin American societies today. Spanish dominates with approximately 60 percent of the population speaking the language while Portuguese prevails among the rest of the members (Saona 147). On the other hand, the Christianity dominates as the main religion in Latin American culture with 70% of the population being Roman Catholics. In the recent past, Protestant faith is infiltrating the Latin American cultural structure, especially in Brazil and Venezuela. In this case, Christianity dominates as the chief religion of Latin American nations. Based on the social and political aspects, some of the major traditional holidays celebrated include the Christmas holiday, which marks the birth of Christ according to Christian faith (Masiello, 95). In addition, the holiday of Carnaval, which entails the practice of self-indulgence before the Christian Lent still dominates in most Latin American societies. Major Latin American cuisine comprises of maize-dishes like pupusas and beverages like pisco. In Peru, maize meals and fruits like pineapples makes up the main components of their stable diets (Jonz 66).

As outlined earlier in the introduction, cultural practices move from one generation to another through ancestral links. In this context, I still subscribe to most of my ancestral cultural values in my life. Though my family settled in the American state of California, we still speak Spanish as the main household language. In addition, we maintained Roman Catholic as the chief religion through the three generations to the present times. In my family, we celebrate Christmas and Carnaval holidays based on the discussed cultural beliefs. With respect to cuisine, we stick to cereal meals and fruits as the stable family diet. This persists despite the integration of Anglo-American dishes like pasta and carbonated drinks in the family dining table. In this regard, time successfully transferred the major ancestral cultural values into the present generation (Masiello 156).

Upon contemplating all the components of my family’s culture, the social element of religion and language remains paramount in propagating Latin American practices. The Spanish language serves as an identity to most Latin Americans in the Diaspora today (Saona 13). In this case, the household language of my family plays the role of identity in the modern culturally diverse societies of America. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic faith motivates me to acknowledge the role of religion and Christian faith in my life. These two values bring about the sense of belonging and identity in the socially dynamic environment characterized by diverge cultural practices and beliefs.

Works Cited

Dark, Balderston. Encyclopedia of Contemporary Latin American and Caribbean Cultures. New York: CRC Press, 2009. Print.

Fitz, Earl. Comparative Cultural Studies and Latin America. Pittsburg: Purdue University Press, 2011. Print.

Hoffman, Barbara. Art and Cultural Heritage: Law, Policy and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Print.

Jonz, Mark. Latin American Cuisine: Tapioca, Tamale, Brazilian Cuisine. California: General Books LCC, 2010. Print.

Masiello, Francine. The Art of Transition: Latin American Culture and Neoliberal Crisis. London: Duke University Press, 2008. Print.

Navrud, Stale and Ready, Richard. Valuing Cultural Heritage: Applying Environmental Valuation Techniques to Historic Buildings, Monuments and Artifacts. New York: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010. Print.

Saona, Rodriquez. Spanish in Latin America: The Next Step in Language Development. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print.

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