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Example research essay topic: Brazilian Culture Cultural Identity - 1,651 words

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Anthropophagy and Brazilian Culture Cannibalism is a phenomenon which was widely spread in some areas. There are several views on the essence and nature of cannibalism. Some of the scientists consider that the reason of cannibalism was famine and starvation. Though while talking about Brazil, the land of Aztecs, there was a fertile soil and rich vegetation. The agriculture was on a high level. Aztecs hunted animals which contributed to their ration.

The scientists argue about the roots of cannibalism. Some of them consider that cannibalism was cause by the hunger and the protein deficiency. Bernard R. Ortiz de Montellano 1 denies this idea stating that the Aztecs had available and consumed a much larger variety of foods than we do. In addition to a wide list of tropical fruits and vegetables, Saha-gun enumerates more than 40 varieties of waterfowl 2. If the primer reason of cannibalism were caused by the hunger then there were a lot of areas in the world with much worse situation with food where cannibalism would be spread.

The examples of such areas are Asian countries with the overpopulation and permanent seasonal disasters, African countries, were cannibalism was spread but it was incomparable with that of Aztecs; and Oceania were the vegetation was much richer. There was feminine but the chronicles describe the irrigation works of Aztecs, the military campaigns to conquer new lands to acquire additional tribute payers. There was nothing nutritious in the cannibalism of the Aztecs. The hypothesis of religious sacrifice seems to be more explanatory as for the cannibalism of the Aztecs. The cannibalism of Aztecs was rather religious or cultural phenomenon than the phenomenon connected with the natural needs. This ritual character of sacrificing can be traced in modern Brazilian culture.

Brazilian carnivals could be considered as the manifestation of the Aztecs ritual dances. Anthropophagy being the complex ritual phenomenon having multiple meanings may be applied to art, mythology, cultural history etc. Cannibalism is much more complicated than just consuming the product. While eating the stronger enemies the savages assumed that they ate their souls thus becoming stronger and inheriting some of their enemies features. The modernism Brazilian art turning back the culture to the soil, aimed to return to its natural identity started at 1920 s by the Brazilian modernism's most celebrated text, Oswald de Andrade's Cannibal Manifesto of 192823. This manifesto is a mixture of the satire, appeal and a call for identity.

It resembles the doctrine of Russian nihilists of the 19 th century. Oswald de Andrade expresses the concern of the natural culture consumed by the white culture and it was really so. The phenomenon of the spreading white culture resembles the process of cannibalism very much when the white culture represented by the violent movies tries to consume the traditional culture as if realizing that the violent movies lack real cultural traditions. As well as cannibals the modern western cultures realizing their shortages consume rich cultures aimed to consume their souls. The utmost individualism applied to the natural culture is the only way of the cultural development according to Oswald de Andrade, Only Cannibalism unites us. Socially.

Economically. Philosophically 4. The manifesto of Oswald de Andrade is the mixture of anarchical ideas everything against everything. But it seems like protest against the westernization of the Brazilian culture and an appeal to turn back to the national roots. The west invasion, cultural cannibalism of West, suppression of the traditional culture needs something according to Oswald de Andrade to be opposed to. Oswald de Andrade appeals to oppose the real cultural values to the capitalism rationalism in culture.

The most important question of the Brazilian art was that if Brazil should adopt the foreign models for the art development or should it develop its own cultural identity. Due to the vast diversity of the Brazilian society it was difficult to do. The white culture similar to the colonization process was consuming the national cultural identity similar to cannibalism. Bossa nova emerged as a music style combining samba which was the product of the Brazil cultural tradition and American jazz. Strictly saying the American jazz was a product of traditional African black culture. It was developed by the African Americans and bore the traditions of the black culture.

All cultural trends coming from the white world consumed the Brazilian national culture in the same way it happened with the cannibalism. It was interesting phenomenon that historically real cannibalism occurred in Brazil, the background of the cannibalism is known but the Brazilian cultural identity became the victim of the cultural cannibalism from the white world. Seeking a more authentic form of nationalism a small group of young musicians began this so called Tropicalia movement 5. Tropicalia was an attempt to find the identity. That was an ironical concept of the cannibalization used by the modernist poet Oswaldo be Andrade. The concept of cultural cannibalization is to collect anything and everything, eat it and then produce something new.

It would be good, but if we study the history of culture we may note that the really unique cultural phenomena occur very rarely. All cultural development is the process of the previous concept cannibalization. The difference in the capitalist cultural cannibalization and the national one is that the capitalist development applies the cultural cannibalization aggressively while the cannibalization in the Brazilian culture was defensive, a respond to growing influence of the external cultural trends. The concept of cultural cannibalization occurred in African cultures where the colonizers defined the elimination, i. e. eating the traditional cultural values as their direct objective.

The illustration could be found in novels of Nigerian writers China Achebe and Ben Or. The white colonizers in Africa studied the African culture with objective to consume it and produce the new product suitable for the newcomers: In this way Mr. Brown learnt a good deal about the religion of the clan and he came to the conclusion that a frontal attack on it would not succeed 6. In case with the Brazil the traditional culture succeeded to find the adequate counter measures to the cultural cannibalism of the newcomers. In Brazil Tropicalia a real identity was articulated by adoption of all cultural trends and then devouring them and generating the new cultural trend. That idea was a rather wise one comparing with that in the modern history, for example in Russia which was manifested in the total destruction and then in construction something new and later in the modern post Soviet culture, eliminating everything connected with communism idea and then looking for a identity.

Tropicalia unlike the post soviet cases was a successful protest against the capitalist consumption. The Brazilian culture succeeded not only to resist the western cultural cannibalism passively as it was in Africa, but to expand its cultural trends in the western world... The tradition of the Brazilian carnivals is the vivid manifestation of the national self identity creation. All cultural trends were incorporated in the burlesque event which found the recognition worldwide. Bossa nova gained the political meaning and the opposition to the western cultural cannibalism was transferred into the political level.

Bossa nova gained the attention of the leftist student who associated it with the opposition to the capitalist cultural penetration. Tropicalistas neglected the commercialization of culture considering that the cultural commercialization leads to the loss of the national identity. In brief, the commercialized culture would be in the row with other cultures and success would be for that one which has more money invested in disregarding the real cultural values. Tropicalists developed the moderate Brazilian nationalism into aggressive one which in its turn could be understood as a modern mixture of cultural trends occurred in the Brazilian culture. The main objective was to create the traditional multiculturalism opposing to the west cultural expansion. The nationalism according to Tropicalia was the symbiosis of a variety of cultural trends opposed to the monoculture expansion from the outside.

Tropicalia expanded its ideas beyond Brazil. Beck (a North American musician) felt an affinity to Tropicalia's cannibalistic philosophy. In his song "New Pollution" you will find kitsch melodies from the fifties interrupted by a distorted electric guitar and gunshots. Though it may be a different format, the idea of using many contrasting sounds effectively creates a critique of North American culture in Becks song. Because such a framework of cannibalization involves trans-cultural media, the same use of parody to critique can be applied to other patrimonial collections and territories 7. If cannibalism is a domain of war then it is a natural state of the human because the war according to Leviathan by Tomas Hobbes is a natural state of human existence a part of the natural law which in its turn is the basis of our social development.

If it is assumed then the intercultural cannibalism is a national phenomenon for a human society. It could be observed in such trends as western rock dissolving the national cultural musical trends, or it is better to say consuming them. It could be observed in politics and philosophy when the proletarian internationalism consumed a part of the world, when continuous South American TV soap dramas attract a great number of TV watchers in Europe and when the European TV companies try to create Brazilian and Argentinean type of the soap dramas dissolving the natural TV products. Bibliography Bernard R.

Ortiz de Montellano, Aztec Cannibalism: An Ecological Necessity? Science, New Series, Vol. 200, No. 4342 (May 12, 1978), 611 - 617, available at web retrieved 23. 04. 2005 Oswaldo de Andrade, Cannibal Manifesto, Exquisite Corpse, 2002, available at web retrieved 23. 04. 2005 Lisa-Marie Jaster, Tropicalia - The expression of a Brazilian post-modern consciousness and its political ties, available at web retrieved 23. 04. 2005 Achebe, China, Things Fall Apart, New York: Doubleday, 1994 Citation Bernard R. Ortiz de Montellano Ibid Oswaldo de Andrade Ibid Lisa-Marie Jaster Achebe, China Lisa-Marie Jaster


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