Transnationality, Globalisation & Postcoloniality: Analysis of views of culture on learning portals (ENG3 Reflection)

This reflection ties in with the theory and ideas described in Visual Culture by M. Ryan.

When choosing learning materials we are bombarded with options. It is essential to be critical when choosing what to present to the students. All information is biased, even the way we present the world as evident at thetruesize.com: Greenland seems like an enormous white wasteland but when shown in actual size it is much smaller than Africa, that it seems to challenge in size on the map.

Africa discussion

The 3 pictures below started a huge debate in our classroom.

The first picture gives a cultural nationalist and large culture view on "African People". Africa is a continent that encompasses 58 countries, each with their own national identity, so by showing Africa as the head of a starving beggar creates a single story that blinds us to the diversity of South Africans and Egyptians, Kenyans and Tunesians - which are still large comparisons to make with great pitfalls through "Landeskunde".

The second picture shows us happy school children in clean uniforms, and made people think of "bornefonden", but still with the view that we are helping Africa.

The last photo gave people the impression of simple tribesmen living in huts made of manoeuvre.

All three photos portraits Africa as looking UP to the viewer which gives us the feeling of the superior western society.

African Single Stories

Single Stories

The TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, "The danger of a single story", and her novel, Americana from 2015, underlines the importance of overcoming cultural blindness, and to be open towards new ideas while still being able to reflect:

When choosing literature for the students I will keep in mind what that most stories has a white, heterosexual male protagonist such as Mindhunter, Breaking Bad, Die Hard, and the list goes on and on. Most literature also has a heterosexual, masculine way of perceiving the world seem natural such as Saving Private Ryan, Fight Club etc. They often promote an ideology that positions men as leaders and women as passive victims of reward, Celebrates individualism and violence as opposed to community and diplomacy. They address the desires and anxieties felt by the masses. All of these examples are examples of single stories.

We cannot recognize ourselves as individuals until we see representations of ourselves
— M. Ryan. p. 143

In contrast to previous (old-school) representations of women: idealised mothers, supportive wives or whores, in Sex and The City the women are representing different and modern female perspectives/roles/personalities, e.g. The character Samantha, who is prioritising career and sex over creating a family - but she isn’t only portrayed as a woman who has sex with a lot of men - but a strong feminist character who is putting her own needs first.

Old disney movies has the ideology that positions men as leaders and women as passive victims of reward but we are beginning to see a change in representations Most new disney movies has a strong female focus. Moana and Frozen are core examples of this. The world is changing, feminism is starting to have an impact, and men are starting to doubt themselves: What is my role now that women can do everything. Have women really become so strong that they can manipulate men into despair or do we constantly balance?

The new Danish movie, en frygtelig kvinde, highlights the the unhealthy relationship between a strong woman and a naive, suppressed man:

To me this seems to come from an unbalanced view on feminism that has since the beginning been about women being equal to men, and have now achieved this goal and even surpassed men in many areas, which leaves men with an ethical and self-identifying paradox: Feeling disempowered and unable to express their dissatisfaction and masculinity, in fright of being shouted at or being called sexist, bigot, male chauvinist or racist.

Do women use the fact that they have been the natural number 2 as an excuse to force themselves into the role of a victim that needs compensation and praise?

This too is a single story and we need a new expression that covers the general equality of all human beings that doesn't underline the feminine OR the masculine, but gives all people the opportunity to discover their femininity and masculinity within themselves and embrace it in others.

Emil Alexander Holm Thorsen