The materials for this week's section concerning cultural literacy were mostly interesting. A lot of the information was not news to me, since anthropology 201 emphasizes practically every cultural aspect there is to know, as well as the importance of having a culturally relativist attitude rather than an ethnocentric one. Knowing all of this, I believe that Hirsch's take on American cultural literacy is too binding, and cannot possibly encompass all aspects of American society. Our melting pot of a country has a plethora of subcultures that he probably could not understand himself, being the ethnocentric white-collar scholar that he is.
That being said, the more generalized take on cultural literacy, with the expanded view of incorporating multimedia forms of communication, is a better way to try and understand a culture. In my own culture, especially my generation, references are drawn from many aspects of society, including movies, internet webcomics, popular blogs, famous works of architecture (this may be limited to architecture majors, I don't know), or perhaps literature from school or personal enjoyment. Learning to be culturally literate in my host country of Spain will be a challenge for the next four months. Not only because it is apparently the opposite of America (according to Geert Hofstede's "Cultural Dimensions"), but because the city of Barcelona may as well be its own independent country.
Hofstede's cultural dimensions showed great differences between America's and Spain's Individualism and Uncertainty Avoidance Index. It comes as no surprise to myself that America has the highest value for individualism than any other country in the world. From birth, we are raised to be able to take care of ourselves one day, without being dependent upon anybody else. What is more interesting to me is that Spain has a very high Uncertainty Avoidance Index, meaning that they are more likely to be "emotional, and motivated by inner nervous energy," and will most likely have strict laws and rules. In a religious sense, the majority will believe in an absolute truth--in Spain's case, that must be Catholicism. Over 76% of the country claims to be Catholic, while only 2.1% claim to be another faith, and the rest of the population do not claim a religion or are atheist. An overwhelming majority of the population are followers of a single religion.
The video lectures concerning cultural literacy repeatedly emphasized five points defining culture: Nomos, ethnos, techne, mythos, and archon. Barcelona's defiant culture is most easily recognized through ethnos and archon.
Barcelona seems rather separated from its own country. The city has it's own ethnos, identity, which sets it apart from the rest of Spain. The city prefers to identify itself with the community of Catalonia. They speak their own language, Catalan, and in some cases citizens refuse to speak Spanish at all. I have experienced this personally, which makes it difficult to communicate when I do not know a lick of Catalan. Rumor has it that the people of Barcelona did not celebrate when Spain won the 2010 World Cup because FC Barcelona was not the winning team; however, this is just a rumor. Barcelona's identification with Catalonia sets back 2000 years ago. There is a lot of history there to explore in order to have a better understanding of the current culture.
The cultural element archon is explosive when it comes to sports. Fútbol is especially important in Catalan society. The display of team spirit (for FC Barcelona, at least) is intoxicating beginning from the time you enter the metro, walk to the stadium, experience the game, and finally, somehow, make it back home through the overwhelming crowd. The display of FC Barcelona's colors (red, yellow, and blue), is seen everywhere--whether it is in clothing, flags, or souvenirs. There are competing theories about the history of the team colors, all of them harkens back to different influential people's association with another sporting team. There are chants and gestures showered throughout the game, and it is really difficult to not get excited, even if its the first time you've ever watched fútbol...
As the semester progresses, I will be more attentive to the nomos, techne, and mythos of Barcelona. All of these factors will help me become more "literate" in this culture, and help me appreciate the defiance this city has against the rest of Spain.