Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Cultural Imperialism

Update: Here are the accompanying photos for this post that I was just able to take...

I'm not sure that this title is the right description for the following, but I'll let you all interpret as you wish!

Context: suburbs of Guatemala City

I saw this sign for a private school which proudly proclaimed:

At the same school: Guatemalan Flag flying alongside the US Flag



cbroadwe said...

I think that one of the unintended ironies of that sign is the description of the teachers as "Native Americans." I'm sure by that, they really mean white people born in the United States. But I think few white people born in the United States would describe themselves as Native Americans, as that's the term that many people reserve for American Indians.

Speaking of the American label, when I was studying in France, many of the other students who were part of the program came from Latin America. When I told them that I was an American, they objected to the term because they insisted that they were also Americans, which is technically true. Saying American is really only claiming to live on one of two continents, although the name of our country is so cumbersome that I guess the only alternative is to say United Statesian.

So now I'm curious. Who is actually teaching in that school? White people born in the United States? Native American Indians? Native South American Indians? Or people born in Guatemala? It could technically be any of the above.

Beth said...

Exactly! People here generally deal with that by referring to us white US or Canadian citizens as North Americans, although that gets confusing when you think about where Mexico fits in. There is also a more specific spanish word "estadounidense" that works nicely. (a lot more nicely than United Statesian!)

Who knew geography and names of places and people and languages and cultures were so confusing?!

Carolina said...

Most people I know who are sensitive to this issue refer to themselves as "USAmericans" (when reading, speak the letters "U" and "S" by the names of the letters, and then pronounce the word "Americans").

I sort of assumed this was the convention. What do you think? A little less cumbersome than United Statesians, anyway.

David Reese said...

This is awesome. Beth, you should try to get a picture.