Archive for the ‘Cultural Insights’ Category

Learning to Tango

Do you love to watch the tango? If, like writer Joe Ray, you’re obsessed by the sultry movements of the dancers and want to learn to tango yourself, you might want to do what he did and head to Buenos Aires for some lessons. He wrote about his experiences for the Boston Globe: It’s every male wallflower’s […]

Japanese cellphone novels

A few weeks ago, I saw an article in the NY Times about the exploding popularity of “cellphone novels” in Japan. Until recently, cellphone novels — composed on phone keypads by young women wielding dexterous thumbs and read by fans on their tiny screens — had been dismissed in Japan as a subgenre unworthy of […]

Tribal cultures and urbanization

There is an article in the Christian Science Monitor about the Himba tribe of Namibia and how they are being affected by nearby urbanization. Within the story, there are interesting insights into the tribal culture of the the Himba. Reading something like this, it’s easy to see how indigenous cultures can feel disoriented when confronted by a rapidly encroaching outside world. It’s a half-hour drive […]

Spirits and mystics in Indonesia

There was a fascinating article a few days ago in the NY Times, just prior to the death of former Indonesian President Suharto, which discussed the power of local beliefs in spirits and black magic. The story focused on mystical explanations as to why Suharto was clinging to life, but in the process it also illuminated […]

Men, women and an Omani classroom

Baxter Jackson went to Oman to each English and ended up learning a thing or two about the relations between males and females in that Muslim society. He wrote about his teaching experiences for Lonely Planet. I sneak a peek at (the men) in their starched-white dishdashas (wrist-to-ankle shirt-dresses) and embroidered caps as they wait patiently for […]

The idea of Russia

It’s been two weeks since Time magazine named Vladimir Putin its “Person of the Year.” Now that the holiday craziness has ended, I finally got around to reading that issue of the magazine. In it, there is a fascinating portrait of Putin, but also an intriguing article about Russia itself (“In Search of Russia’s Big Idea”), which is the […]

Chinese business schools integrate East and West

Business schools in China are growing by leaps and bounds, with more programs and a significant increase in the number of international students, according to this article in Business Week. The expatriate students are there to gain a better understanding of the Chinese business world, which they gain not only with on-the-ground experience in the country but also […]

How religious culture influences science

John Tierney wrote a fascinating article recently for the NY Times about the role that culture and religion play in determining scientific beliefs and practices. The story focuses specifically on biotechnology, and about the different approaches taken by Asian and Western cultures on issues like stem-cell research and genetic engineering. While critics on the right and […]

Doing business in China with guanxi

The term guanxi refers to the time-honored way of doing business in China by cultivating relationships. Anyone who works in China or with a Chinese company eventually has to learn about guanxi.  This week, Business Week magazine has an article about the practice of building relationships with the Chinese and discusses not only the traditional meaning of guanxi […]

Praying vs. baring in public

Interesting essay in the recent issue of Time Magazine. Carla Power examines a key difference between Western and Muslim societies, notably that Westerners are uncomfortable with public prayer while Muslims are uncomfortable seeing bare skin in public. She writes: Reams have been written on the differences between Islamic and Western societies, but for sheer pithiness, it’s hard […]

Dreams and culture

Are the nighttime dreams that we have influenced by the culture in which we live? That seems to be the intriguing suggestion in this recent article about dreams. Nightmare content also shifts over time and across cultures. A young man in 21st-century America might not mind the occasional bawdy dream, but for St. Augustine, the fourth-century […]

From Indian philosophy to Western business

Can the ancient Indian philosophy of Vedanta be of help to high-powered modern businesspeople? Many seem to think so, at least according to this Time magazine article about Swami Parthasarathy, an 80-year-old spiritual teacher from India who has been making a living and a name for himself as a business consultant. An excerpt from the story: The […]

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