The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #70107   Message #1195908
Posted By: Stilly River Sage
28-May-04 - 10:23 AM
Thread Name: BS: Falsehoods About Arabs Used by DoD
Subject: RE: BS: Falsehoods About Arabs Used by DoD
A good start to learning about another culture is to read some of the literature. How to find the good literature from another culture? I'd start by finding some reviews, such as I quoted from above, to learn about books that are available in good (hopefully annotated) translations. You're not going to find Journal for Palestine on your local newsstand most likely, but if you visit a library and logon to JSTOR you'll find a section on Middle Eastern Studies. Visit the journals listed there and choose your selections from someplace like those journals. They're peer review journals, meaning that they pass muster of people who work and study in the field of Middle Eastern Studies.

There are many other cultural areas you can look at, not just Middle Eastern, so don't read this answer as if it applies only to the subject at hand.

Storytellers hold a privileged position in most cultures. Stories teach about cultures, and they help people learn how to get along, how to solve problems, and to feel that they're not alone. They might be cautionary tales. You'll learn something useful by taking that path. It might not be the same as reading a distilled list of characteristics of some people in some cultures, but you'll get a better feel for the humanity of the people.

I'll take an example of a good American story. To Kill a Mockingbird is a book I read to my kids a couple of years ago, and as good as that was as a story, it also provides powerful examples of types of people and social responses to them. We regularly harken back to Mockingbird when we're discussing other events in the world. Think of how that book would convey ideas about the American culture when it is presented in a good translation for people in other countries to read. See what I mean?