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Acontrast of the Middle Eastern vs. the American Cultures
Cultural groups have been in existence since the ancient times. Intoday’s world, understanding other cultures is essential because itimproves people’s relations. The paper seeks to explore twosocieties that include the Middle Eastern and American. The analysisallows one to possess knowledge that they can apply in comprehendingthe behavior of others. It also exposes an individual to thedifferent values and beliefs that keep changing among somecommunities. Besides, it enhances cultural sensitivity that helps aperson to adapt to diversity. In this way, one gets to acknowledgeothers for who they are, which promotes alignment of policies andgoals, particularly in an organizational setting. The culturalexploration of the two groups shall focus on identifying theirdifferences. The analysis of the Middle Eastern and the Americancultures reveals that they contrast based on their origin and currentregion, traditional and religious practices, personalcharacteristics, and status.
The first difference that was identified between the cultural groupsis centered on their area of origin and location. The origin of theMiddle Eastern culture is associated with the Arab and OttomanEmpires who ruled the people and influenced their way of life(Alsultany & Shohat 8). They are currently located in NorthAfrica, Asia, and some parts of Europe. Their subcultures include theArabs, Turkish, and the Iranians. On the other hand, the Americanculture began a thousand years ago when nomads, adventurers, andexplorers arrived from other regions such as Asia and Europe.According to Alsultany & Shohat, the cultural group in the US iscurrently diverse as it consists of other individuals such as theLatinos, Africans, and Asians who migrated and were acculturated intothe American culture (8). Their current region is the North and SouthAmerica continents.
The traditional and regional practices among the Middle Eastern andAmerican cultures are also distinct. Most of the Middle Easternersare considered to be Muslims, but the Jews and Christians are alsopresent in the community (“Arab Cultural Awareness” 3). InAmerica, Christianity is the major form of worship with a fewpopulations practicing other religions such as Budhism, Hinduism, andMuslim (Bronner, 19). It was also observed that their faith tend todetermine their funeral practices as well. For instance, among theMiddle Eastern Islamic community, when a person died during the day,he or she would be buried before midnight whereas if the deathoccurred late in the night, the deceased would be laid to rest earlythe following morning. The time for the burial is contrary to theAmerican culture as the funeral dates are undefined and remaindependent on factors such as the financial ability of the bereavedfamily. Additionally, unlike in the Middle East where they cry andscream for at least a year, abstain from eating sweet and deliciousfoods, and even avoid listening to the radio as a form of sympathy,the Americans keep their emotions inside and avoid making loud soundsthat indicate their sadness. After the funeral ceremony, there isusually a reception where food and alcohol are served. The Americanculture also has no defined color that people wear during the burialservice yet in the Middle East individuals dress in black garments.The differences indicate that the two communities indeed havecontrasting traditions and religious values.
The marital practices between the two cultures are also distinct. Forinstance, before the actual wedding, the Middle Eastern group holdsthe Henna night. The women from the bride’s side get to paint herhands, arms, and feet with various symbols that signify her readinessto leave her parent’s home(Durrani & Khan 38). The ceremony isconducted by older women as a symbol of how marriage is important inthe society. The groom also gets to have his henna event, but it isnot as sophisticated as that of the bride (Durrani & Khan 39) Onthe contrary, in the American culture, before the wedding ceremony,the bachelor and bachelorette parties are held (Bronner 1272). Womenattend the bachelorette party and the bride remains by distinct bywearing unique clothes. The ceremony is considered to be a newculture among the Americans that ancient tradition of issuing ofgifts. The henna night is more religious than the bachelor and thebachelorette parties because it follows particular Muslim ritualsthat define how the ceremony should be conducted and the color ofhenna to be applied whereas the American culture has no specifiedrituals.
Another contrast identified between the American and the MiddleEastern is centered on the element of personal characteristics suchas what people wear. The form of dressing in the Middle East isdistinct between the men and women. The males are dressed in longrobes and a headdress that signifies their clan, tribe, family, andstatus in the community (“Arab Cultural Awareness” 8). The womenget to dress in an abaya, jilbab, or chador (a full-lengthbody cover), and a hijab (veil) to promote modesty (“ArabCultural Awareness” 8). Those who are more devoted to theirreligion or bereaved tend to cover their faces fully too. However,the nature of dressing among the American culture is primarilyfreestyle as it is influenced by fashion (Alsultany & Shohat 11).Human relations can also be used to illustrate the personalcharacteristics between the two cultural groups. The Middle Easternculture is based on collectivism where the people are loyal to theirfamilies and value friendships, yet the American culture prefersindividualism and does not focus on establishing long-term relations(“Arab Cultural Awareness” 12).
An analysis of the status of the American and Middle Eastern culturewas based on its political, economic, and social factors.Modernization has led the countries in the Middle Eastern culture tohave democratic governments, although they continue to be influencedby religious practices, “Religion does play a role in Arab politicsin many different ways” (“Arab Cultural Awareness” 5). In theAmerican culture, the political leaders are focused on protecting therights of their citizens and enhancing their living standards. Theconcentration has led the community to have better economic statusthan their counterparts in the Middle East. The Middle Eastern hasslow development as it experiences various challenges such aspolitical instability. The social outlook in Middle Eastern indicatesthat they practice the patriarchal system as the women aresubordinate to the males (“Arab Cultural Awareness” 9). Thesituation is different in the American culture as equality is one ofits values that translate to gender as well.
In conclusion, the American way of life differs from that of theMiddle Eastern in several aspects. They are located in differentregions. The funeral and marriage practices also reflect the distincttraditional and religious values. The Middle Eastern have a defineddressing code as compared to their American counterparts who preferfashion. The status of the two cultures also differs acrosspolitical, economic, and social lines. The identified differencesindicate the variations among communities in the world. An individualwho understands the new elements can readily embrace diversity anddevelop good relations with those from other cultural groups.
Alsultany, Evelyn, and Ella Shohat. Between the Middle East andthe Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora. Ann Arbor:University of Michigan Press, 2012. Print.
Bronner, Simon J. Encyclopedia of American Folk Life. Routledge.2015. Print.
Durrani, Atifa and Khan Rana Nasir Ali. "Women Roles inWeddings: Ethnography of Wedding Rituals among Rajput in Punjab,Pakistan." Eurasian Journal of Anthropology, vol. 5, no.1, Jan. 2014, pp. 32-45
Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence US ArmyTraining and Doctrine Command. Arab Cultural Awareness: 58Factsheets. TRADOC DCSINT Handbook No.2, 2006, Web,https://fas.org/irp/agency/army/arabculture.pdf.Accessed on 21 March 2017