Re: Culture of honour

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Tue Jan 06 2004 - 14:21:33 PST

very important questions, Hans.

I think the term, "culture" is being used in a variety of ways even in your
discussion, never mind when we add in all those who have commented. To
label something " a culture of x" is perfectly acceptable english ("A culture
of narcissism" for example) but from my perspective (there is no CHAT
orthodoxy on much of anything except to consider culture, history, and
activity when theorizing human behavior!) one has to consider, a la the
intro to lave and wenger, the practices which sustain particular behaviors.
Or perhaps, following the lead of Shweder and friends in the 1998 Handbook
of Child Psych article on cultural psychology, a unit such as "custom complex"
might be useful.

Do you have the equivalent of our military academies in Sweden? I would
venture that there is some form of a "culture of honor" in such institutions,
along with cultures of nationalism, obedience to authority, chauvanisms of
various kinds, etc., if one wants to use that terminology. In such cases,
we know pretty well what sustains such values (note how i slip in that term
in place of culture?). I would be looking to good ethnographies of the people
you are interested in, both in their home countries and in diaspora, to
understand the behaviors from the inside well enough so that they make
sense to you, even if you disapprove. Again, Shweder is a good example
of an anthropologist who insists on understanding why and how various
behaviors that "we" (whoever we might be) abhor (stoning a woman for
infidelity, for example) can be strongly supported by people who are no
better or worse than you or me or anyone we know. You may not agree with
the way of thinking, but you will come away having been challenged to

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