Understanding Inner City Poverty Analysis

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Cultural relativism is the view that there is no right or wrong or good or bad morals in any culture. Cultural relativism is necessary for anthropologists because it allows them to put aside their beliefs in order for them to fully acquire knowledge of a new culture. This topic works because there is no true universal principle of morality. The works of Laura Bohannan’s Shakespeare in the Bush and Philippe Bourgois’s Understanding Inner City Poverty, reflects that in order to understand how people live and operate in a particular culture, it is essential to consider the way others view the world within the framework of their culture. Bohannan approaches cultural relativism by using a play by Shakespeare with the Tiv tribe in West Africa to…show more content…
“The relativist slogan, that people of different cultures live in different worlds, would be nonsense if understood as literally referring to physical worlds”(Monaghan and Just 2000: 50). That is to say that anthropologists must realize that many concepts that well-known and accepted too some are not going to be interpreted the same way as others will. Literature is a perfect example because it is something that is open to many interpretations. While reading Hamlet to the elders of the Tiv tribe, Bohannan thought that their culture would understand the plot of the play in the same way her society does, but once the story started, it was clear that the Tiv elders had a different way of thinking. “I was quite sure that Hamlet had only one possible interpretation, and that one universally obvious” (Bohannan 67). The only way for the Tiv to interpret the play was to relate its meanings to their culture. She finds that elders in the Tiv feel that they know what is best due to their much life experiences and so while Bohannan read her version of Hamlet, the elders found much error in what she stated. “Learning a language, we learn a world,” (Monaghan and Just 2000: 49) indicates that learning a distinct culture’s inference gives one a greater global understanding of the world; that everything is open to interpretation and

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