This edition: Processes of Change
At the beginning of this lesson, anthropologist Leo Chavez comments that culture “is always transforming itself, always changing. It is always in the process of becoming something else.” Throughout history, cultures have changed because of environmental conditions, internal pressures, or external forces. Change comes quickly, or it may occur slowly. In any event, anthropologists chronicle cultural change and offer explanations as to why it happens. Anthropologist Eugene Cooper has tracked cultural change as reflected in the craft of Chinese furniture- making during the 1970s and 1980s, emphasizing that societies change with the use of new technologies. The key term “diffusion“ is introduced and discussed within the context of the spread of the English language from the anthropologist to the group she/he studies. The lesson illuminates some of the benefits and problems that immigration poses for a culture. It focuses on the current migration of Mexicans and Central Americans to the United States. It illustrates why the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps was founded, and how their goals were formed in response to the perception that too many Mexican citizens were coming across the border into the United States illegally. In contrast, the human rights organization El Rescate was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles to assist individuals who had escaped the chaos in Central America and who sought refuge here. Both groups offer their own perspective on the impact of immigrants on American culture. The lesson also offers contextual information on post-colonialism and explains the differences between rebellion and revolution.