APY 105 - Intro to Anthropology
Poltorak, D L
Rites of Passage: Laotian Culture
“Here I am at the crossroads into adulthood. I stand before the threshold to adulthood ready to sever the ties of my youth, and begin new growth on the dead tree that represents childhood. The tree of youth that once stood tall with all of it’s quirky branches and knots, now lays horizontal, ready to give my new growth all the water and nutrients it needs to grow.” (Eli Keltz) From birth to death in any culture whether it be eastern or western there are special times in ones life that signify the path to maturity through birth, adolescence, marriage and death. “Rite of passage” is a term that was coined by a man named Arnold Van Gennep who’s works have been widely regarded as the basis of anthropological thought. The rites of passages correlate in the transitioning period from adolescents to adulthood. They are rituals, events, and or celebrations that would scribe an individuals progression from one status to another to better generalize it. The rite of passage is a widely accepted belief cross culturally a kind of phenomenon which reveals to anthropologist the complexities of social hierarchies, values, human development, and beliefs which are relevant in specific cultures. Laos for example, a country untouched by western modernization, whose natural geography has caused the culture to remain untouched by time for so many years until the mid 1900’s which is what’s most commonly on paper due to the Vietnam war, but anything before this event is not as nearly focused upon by today’s history books or anthropologists. In many ways, the Lao people are not as conformist of collectivist as most of their neighboring East Asian countries. This is because it is a country with 65 ethnic minorities, each with their own identity and language.
As a Laotian American raised by highly traditional old school Lao parents I...