Cultural Erasure, Retention and Renewal

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Cultural Retention, Renewal and Erasure
Culture can be defined as the way of the life of a people, with regards to both the material and non-material aspects. However, as a result of a developing and maturing society, in addition to the birth of various generations and external influences, these “ways of life” can be inadvertently retained, renewed and even discarded. Our own Caribbean society, specifically Barbados is not exempt from such occurrences. Cultural Erasure is the gradual removal of various traditions and customs from society. The process of cultural erasure is gradual as these practices generally make a slow but noticeable transition from a state of prominence to a rarity in everyday life. In most instances, cultural erasur occurs as a result of a newer generation disapproving of or having little to no interest or appreciation for certain traditions. A definite example of this would be calypso music in the Caribbean. With the introduction of various genres and artists from around the world, only relatively small groups of individuals actually listen to calypso let alone find it entertaining. In recent times, various Caribbean countries, namely Barbados have experienced a steady decline in the amount of individuals that still have a burning passion for cricket. In the past, people could have been found in large numbers present at live cricket matches, otherwise “glued” to their televisions in the rare occasion that they could not be in attendance, especially if West Indies was playing England. This however, is no longer the case. Other sports, especially football have become more popular and more entertaining to such an extent that it can be found being played on the streets and on our televisions, as well as being a the subject of conversation on a regular basis. Cricket fans and enthusiasts have dwindled significantly throughout the years and has affected the way in which the country views the sport. Cultural erasure also occurs as a result of the development of newer and more efficient means of technology and equipment and their increasing availability to society. The practice of utilising donkeys as a means of transport, building chattel houses as a means of shelter and walking to a stand-pipe as a means of water has long become obsolete. These traditions despite being the vital and necessary customs for survival of our forefathers are seen as inconvenient and are even looked down upon by some. It is a certain rarity to find anyone that still relies heavily upon these, especially with the evolution of the automobile, indoor water systems and alike. Cultural Retention, I would not describe as a process but more of a conscious action or attempt to not only preserve, but improve upon certain practices and customs. This will occur when a tradition not only links to a major segment of a society’s history, but when it functions as a source of identity and pride. It also works to the tradition’s advantage when it is enjoyable and/or entertaining. A very prominent example of cultural retention in the Caribbean is Independence Day celebration. All across the region, no matter the island, the anniversary of its independence is seen as a special occasion. It is an event where the entire island takes a moment to remember its history and where society recalls its roots. It is important to note that this is a period where several cultures, both new and old are observed and analysed to see how they link to the island’s history. In the island of Barbados, Independence Day is recognised yearly as a time where the all the country’s main dishes are prepared and readily available. Additionally, it can be said that the food itself, can be seen as a culture that has been retained throughout the years. For example, Pudding and souse, even now is known as a typical dish on Saturday afternoons while Rice, Peas, Chicken and Macaroni Pie remain as “Sunday food”. It is highly unlikely that these aspects of culture will...
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