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Portraits of the white men by the Western Apache

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Basso, Keith H. , 1979. Portraits of “The Whiteman”: Linguistic Play and Cultural Symbols among the Western Apache.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Portraits of “The Whiteman” is about the cultural understandings that Western Apache have of Anglo-Americans. Since many of these portraits are expressed in joking imitations, this book is a kind of humorous ethnography in reverse. In your essay, describe the images of Anglo-Americans that are contained in Western Apache jokes.

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What do these jokes tell us about Western Apache culture?And what do they tell us about Anglo-American culture? The Western Apaches are aboriginal inhabitants of North America.

The Apache people are distinguished from other Native Americans by their Athabascan language, the Western Apache reside in the geographic region of Arizona and this area includes the White Mountain, Cibecue, San Carlos and Northern and Southern Tonto bands. The Indian population is distributed fairly evenly among nine exogamous settlements; Basso, 1970 Whiteriver, Canyon Day, East Fork, North Fork, Seven-mile, Turkey Creek, Carizzo, Cedar Creek, and Cibecue.

The ethnography Portraits of “The Whiteman” is written concerning the Western Apache of Cibecue.

An Anglo-American is an inhabitant of the United States whose language and ancestry are of English decent. There are many images of Anglo-Americans used in Western Apaches jokes. I will focus on the images that I consider to be the most relevant and describe each item with examples as well as making inferences about what it tells us about Western Apache and Anglo-American culture.The images of Anglo-American’s in Western Apache jokes are often seen as boisterous, fast-talking individuals whom repeat themselves and state the obvious.

Apaches speak in a phlegmatic and amiable manner and only raise their voices when angry according to Basso 1979. They have trouble coming to terms with the volume and speed at which Anglo-Americans converse. “White men make lots of noise” Basso, 1979. This can be a source of amusement for the discerning Apache when encountering an Anglo-American.

White men are angry even when they are friendly” Basso, 1979.In Apache culture it is considered impolite to repeat oneself and this is learned through implicit knowledge. Apaches believe that Anglo-Americans do this frequently, it can be misinterpreted that they are in a hurry or are even indignant. Anglo-Americans also have a bizarre tendency to state the obvious “look who’s here” when everybody can see that someone has arrived.

Apaches are not accustomed to having attention drawn to their movements and converse in a relaxed manner.Anglo-Americans like to capture the attention of their audience and possibly believe that speaking at a high volume accomplishes this. Perhaps because most Anglo-Americans live in a fast paced environment they feel it imperative to converse rapidly so as to avoid wasting time. Western Apaches feel that Anglo-Americans inquire too much about the well being of a person and when joking with each other, often exaggerate this: “How you doing? ” “How you feeling, you feeling good? ” Basso, 1979.

In Apache culture this is considered impertinent, with the only exception occurring between consanguines. Western Apaches do not take kindly to probing of this sort and will only speak of their well being when they feel comfortable, not when asked. To the Anglo-American this kind of personal inquiry is considered appropriate and viable conversation when greeting any individual. It is more of a salutation than an inquiry and has little or no meaning.

“Every culture, whether literate or not, includes beliefs about how language works and what it is capable of accomplishing” says Basso, 1990.Along with making inquiries about one’s health making verbal observations of ones personal appearance is also considered inappropriate. When making raillery about “white men”, Apaches sometimes refer to the “butt” of the joke’s appearance in an exaggerated manner. Apaches do not like having any attention drawn to their appearance “Apaches don’t talk how someone’s look to their face” Basso, 1979.

Their cultural knowledge of norms is contradicted making them feel uncomfortable, like they have been the victims of intense scrutiny.Anglo-Americans appear to adore being the centre of attention and are very conscious and ebullient about their bodies. It seems to the Western Apache that they like to be scrutinised and noticed. Often when staging a diminutive drama depicting Anglo-Americans, Western Apaches refer to each other as “my friend” or “my brother”.

This is regarded as a transparency and Apaches hold fast to the view that Anglo-Americans only say this in order to claim something in return. A joke pertaining to this is an imitation of a hippie “gimme one dollar man, fifty cents, one dime, you my brother” Basso, 1979.Western Apaches believe that it takes long years to build strong social relations. Apaches use the analogy that new relationships are like untanned hides and are “stiff” and that old relationships are well worked therefore much “softer”.

It is presumptuous and unappreciative of the meaning of the words themselves to call an acquaintance “friend” or “brother”. “White men say you’re their friend, like it was nothing, like it was air” Basso, 1979. Western Apaches learn these patterns of behaviour during enculturation with embodied knowledge.In Anglo-American culture it is acceptable to adopt an almost immediate alliance with an individual, perhaps the cliché you start of as you mean to go on is apt.

Personal names are classified as individually owned property Basso, 1979 to the Apache. When making a joke an Apache may repeat the “butt” of the jokes name to illustrate this. The Apache views of name ownership are likened to that of material ownership. It is unprecedented to use a name without a solid social relationship much the same as it is to use somebodies property, a tool for instance.

Anglo-Americans do not take this view and it is regarded as commonplace to address somebody by their personal name in a formal or informal conversation. Western Apaches have come to the conclusion that “White men” are exceedingly forgetful and therefore must continuously remind themselves of whom they are talking too. Basso, 1979. Personal space is regarded as imperative as much so as a personal name in Apache culture.

Western Apaches believe that “white men” touch each other all together too often and this may be replicated in a jovial expression.Western Apaches, especially adult males, never touch each other and choose to avoid direct eye contact at length. Touching someone and guiding them into a position is believed to encroach on the rights of an individual to do, as he will. Western Apaches are keen to avoid any act, which may be likened to that of a homosexual.

Avoiding touch all together eliminates the possibility of being mistaken as such. Touch and eye contact of these sorts are prevalent in Anglo-American culture. It is deemed necessary to shake hands when greeting an individual.Physical contact illustrates affection between two people, even between men whom may periodically hit each other lightly initially upon greeting and may do so throughout a conversation.

In Anglo-American culture this is considered “manly” and not likened to homosexuality, often quite the opposite. At the conclusion of some of the jokes witnessed in this ethnography an Apache states that “white men are stupid” or “white men are arrogant” or “white man crazy” Basso, 1979. These remarks, although ethnocentric are the result of basic differences or clashes between the Western Apache and Anglo-American cultural norms.The Apache have stereotypes of Anglo-Americans based on experience and they play up to these when joking.

Many of these stereotypes make the “White man” being portrayed, seem foolish or absurd and these imitations play on the idiosyncrasies of the Anglo-American. These remarks, although ethnocentric are borne out of frustration and Western Apaches have often bore these stereotypes themselves from Anglo-Americans. “They dislike being addressed as if they were children, for this implies what they know is not true, that they are incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, good from bad for instance. Basso, 1970 To the Western Apache humour is part of life and imitations of Anglo-Americans are drawn from real experiences.

There are many relevant cultural differences between the Western Apaches and Anglo-Americans and I have attempted to outline those that are the most significant and what they tell us about the two cultures in a comparison. “When a people can laugh at themselves and others and hold all aspects of life together without letting anybody drive them to extremes, then it seems to me that people can survive. ” Vine Deloria, Jr Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto.

Cite this Portraits of the white men by the Western Apache

Portraits of the white men by the Western Apache. (2018, Jun 10). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/portraits-of-the-white-men-by-the-western-apache/

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