Author Archives: Jason U Rose

About Jason U Rose

I am a graduate from IU South Bend with a major in History, and a double minor in European Studies, and Women and Gender Studies. I currently attend Ball State University studying early 20th Century American Cultural and Social History with a subspecialty in Transnationalism and Digital History. I am an avid music collector and I try to go to as many shows as I can. A particular favorite of mine is to visit blues bars in Chicago.

Why Choose Mexico 2016?

Last week Mexicanos around the world celebrated Natalicio de Benito Juárez. On March 21, 1805, the former president Benito Juárez was born. Juárez may be best known as the President of Mexico who helped expel the French Empire from trying to colonize and create a puppet state in Mexico (1861-1867). Cinco de Mayo is another holiday that comes from the France’s ill-fated soirée and celebrates the defeat of, what was considered the greatest military force in the world, by a greatly outnumbered Mexican army. Jaurez on Rivera's Mural at the Palacio.jpg

Benito Juárez was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. IU South Bend students can spend 4 weeks this summer living in Oaxaca, learning about the culture and society that produced Mexico’s only indigenous president.

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This past year I had a chance to go with IU South Bend to Oaxaca. Although not my first experience with a non-Western European culture, it was still an eye-opening experience. Unless you have experienced something like this it is hard to describe beyond a longing to return. Just the other day I was telling my partner, who also went on the Mexico trip with me*

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My Host Family

not one week goes by where I do not miss and desire for my host mother’s cooking.” 027

The deadline for the Summer II 2016 Oaxaca, Mexico is tomorrow. Do not miss this truly unforgettable trip.

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*Our Mexico trip allows spouses and children to participate with special permission.

 

Jason Rose is an IU South Bend alumni and current graduate student of History at Ball State University. He did part of his Thesis Research on the 2015 Oaxaca, Mexico Trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Guérewol, Alebrijes, and the Importance of Folk Art

During the rainy season, the Wodaabe, a multinational West African nomadic tribe, participate in a richly elaborate “courting” ceremony called the Guérewol. During this ceremony, men dress in a white skirt, an intricate head dress made of feathers, and wear elaborate make-up. Posture and standing erect is also an important part of the Guérewol ritual; as is the ash from the Guérewol fire, which is considered to be lucky.

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Aesthetics are a large part of the Guérewol, but there are religious aspects to it as well or at least there were at one time. The painting of their faces is done in ways that make their eyes and teeth to appear as white as possible and they dance in a way that the light shines through them, penetrating their body. The Guérewol lasts for seven full days and represents a war to save the future of the Wodaabe.

In Niger, the dance has become a major tourist attraction, but that does not detract from the artistic integrity of the ritual. Cultural importance can still be displayed through the consumption of once localized folk art. In many ways this concept reminds me of the indigenous art forms that I saw while studying in Mexico over the summer. Items such as alebrijes, black pottery, and the Guelaguetza (a Mexican folk dance festival) are so amazing to witness, especially when some of these folk traditions span thousands of years. I took a pottery workshop in Oaxaca and some of my maestro’s finished creations were similar in design and color to the ones at the museum at Monte Alban and the Museo Nacional de Antropología.

Throughout the world, folk art pieces are now heavily produced for tourists, but they are still made in a relatively authentic manner. They are not produced in a factory, at least not in the typical U.S. citizens’ view of a factory. In Mexico, production of alebrijes is a family business and everyone contributes to the finished product. This seems to be a great opportunity for these people to increase their standard of living while maintaining elements of their traditional lifestyle. If they are able to ship their products to the U.S. and a fair trade organization guarantees a non-exploitive transaction, one that gives them a living wage, then that seems like a good deal for the artist. Although, I must admit it is not as cool as purchasing it in the place of origin, and many times from the artist directly. There is an authenticity and soul in folk art that cannot be captured when purchasing something at a store that sells mass produced variations. Folk art, such as alebrijes or the Guérewol in Niger, also serves as a great way of remembering a trip, while also serving as a great conversation starter when asked. This leads to the amazing opening sentence “I got that when I spent a summer in Oaxaca, Mexico with IU South Bend.” Mass produced folk art yields no such memories or opportunities.

Having a chance to make and witness all the indigenous art forms at Oaxaca has been an awesome experience and I would love to see the Guérewol in person. I would love to have everyone reading this to join me because the shared experience of a study abroad trip is simply indescribable.

My Experience in Oaxaca: Part 2

I was already winded when I arrived in Oaxaca as the altitude is considerable higher compared to Indiana. But the climb to the summit pushed me to the edge. But the view, oh my, what a view, made it all worth it. Monte Alban was worth it!

Monte Alban Surrounding CityMonte Alban is an archeological treasure located in Mexican state of Oaxaca. The archaeological site at Monte Alban contains a large pre-Columbian step pyramid and other religious and secular buildings built by the Zapotec people of Mesoamerican descent around 500 BCE. The center of Monte Alban is the Main Plaza. Surrounding the Plaza are the Ball Courts, where players played a game similar to handball but utilizing their hips with a heavy rubber ball. The losers of these games were sometimes sacrificed. By the edge of the Ball Court and near the Plaza resides a large grasshopper, which where and continues to be an important animal to the region. By Los Danzantes, which are covered with lapidas (stone monuments), is a row of human statues that have a very distinctive Olmec (1500 BCE-400 BCE) influence.

Monte Alban

Built at the summit of a large hill with the top flattened, the city structures should have been easier to defend than other areas, but this did not prevent Monte Alban from being first inhabited or ruled by the Zapotec, Mixtecs, Mexica (pronounced as ma-she-ka, but better known as the Aztecs) and eventually the Spaniards when they defeated the Mexica Empire on August 13, 1521. Due to so much conquest and movement of people, scholars do not know precisely where the name came from originally. It may have been a corruption of the indigenous name, or a Spaniard that controlled the area after the Spanish conquest. Whatever the origin of the name, the one thing that truly matters is that it is worth all the efforts in the world to see it.

My Experience in Oaxaca: Part 1

It has been a little over a week since I arrived in Mexico with nine of the finest students that the IU system has to offer. Seven of the students on this year’s trip are from IU South Bend while the other two are from other IU satellite campuses such as IUPUI and IU Southeast. We stayed in Mexico City the first evening and on Sunday we visited The Church of Our Lady of Remedies and the archeological dig at Tlachihualtepetl, which literally means “artificial mountain.” The temple actually has several temples in the same spot, but have become buried due to erosion, deliberate rebuilding to make larger temples, and volcanic eruptions. The last temple was dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl, who some believe that the Mexica (Aztecs) considered Hernan Cortes to be him or his representative. Tlachihualtepetl is the world’s largest pyramid based on the archeological evidence gathered by its base.

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After exploring the archeological site and the Church, we went to Oaxaca and met our host families. Within Oaxaca there are seventeen distinct ethnic groups, with fifty-two language dialects spoken. Mexico is a very multi-ethnic and multi-racial society and we had a chance to see the rich and colorful indigenous cultural traditions in person in both the Plaza in El Centro Histórico in Mexico City just outside our window and in the Zócalo (The Plaza de la Constitución) in Oaxaca. Mexico has a fascinating mixture of colonial and indigenous cultures and Oaxaca in particular has a strong indigenous influence, while also containing a distinctive colonial flavor as can be seen in the picturesque colonial estate that now is the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca. Where, I might add, I get to study and grow as a student scholar. There is also a traditional colonial plaza situated near the Instituto.

Guelageutza      Instituto

Oaxaca is also the birthplace of two of Mexico’s greatest leaders, Benito Juárez and Porfirio Díaz. Benito Juárez (1806-1872) is Mexico’s only indigenous president, who reestablished the Republic of Mexico after he helped expel the French invasion in 1861. Porfirio Díaz (1830-1915) served as the Mexican President, essentially as a dictator, from 1876 and 1911 which was one of the main catalysts of the Mexican Revolution. This mix of indigenous and colonial influences and contributions to Mexican history makes Oaxaca the ideal place for learning about and understanding the concept of lo mexicano, the concept of what is Mexico and Mexican.

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New History Course this Fall: “Issues in African History”

IU South Bend students have some fantastic international themed courses to choose from this fall. A new African History course is being offered this fall by Dr. Monica Tetzlaff, Associate Professor of History. Dr. Tetzlaff has just returned from a ten-month Fulbright Fellowship in West Africa, where her studies at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana provided substantial material and experience for this course.

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Dr. Tetzlaff’s Issues in African History course will cover events from approximately the 1880s, during the rise of colonialism, to the present day. This includes topics as diverse as the end of the slave trade, colonialism, independence movements, and independent Africa in the 20th and 21st century. Africa’s political history will be covered, especially Pan-Africanism and ties with the Diaspora in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America. Gender, religion, music, art, and the environment will also be discussed.

MonicaBackpack                 CapeCoast1

Africa is a diverse and dynamic continent with a rich and fascinating history. This can be clearly seen in in the blog posts of International Programs intern Ali Mahamet, and it will be demonstrated in this course. Do not let this excellent opportunity to learn about Africa from someone that has fresh passion about the subject and still on the “travel high.” Trotro

HIST E-300 (15142) Issues in African History

Fall (33071) MW 1-2:15

Brazilian Cinema at IU South Bend

This coming fall, IU South Bend students have a chance to learn about Brazilian Cinema. Gaining in international recognition and stature, Brazilian films like Central do Brasil and Elite Squad have been winning numerous awards. In a course taught by the highly esteemed Dr. Samantha Nogueira Joyce, students will not only engage in Brazilian Cinema, but they will also learn about pan-American interactions and Brazil’s birth as a power in the global market.mood-day-city-beach-in-brazil-rio-de-janeiro1

According to Dr. Joyce, “The goal of the course is to examine these movies as relevant films that stand on their own in history and contemporary cinema – and to discuss them as cultural, historical, political, and economic products that characterize and reveal aspects, sensibilities and points of view from the represented nation.”braz-MMAP-md

Brazil is a unique and diverse nation, being the largest country in South America and the largest Portuguese speaking nation in the world. As in most interdisciplinary courses, students will gain insights into the political and socio-economic issues that formed modern Brazil. Consequently, cultural, political, and social history will be explored in order to fully comprehend and contextualize the films studied. While the course focuses on Brazilian Cinema, it will be valuable to anyone who cares about the intricacies of a growing global power.

MASS COMMUNICATION: TEL-R 404 – Topical Seminar in Telecommunications

5666                          11:30A-12:45P TR            NS013                        Joyce S

Asian American and Pacific Islander Month Part 4: The Pacific Islands

For the last blog in my series, I will discuss the Pacific Islands.

00-341_Micro,Mela, Polynesia

Melanesians are the ethnic groups that inhabitant the Pacific Islands around Papua-New Guinea. This would include the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. Headhunting was practiced in Melanesia into the early twentieth century (as well as most other parts of the world from time to time), but it is no longer practiced today. Contrary to popular belief, headhunting was ritualistic and rarely an act of war, serving as a way to collectively mourn for the community’s dead.

Melanesia tribes men                    Melanesia tribal mask

Melanesia is one of the few areas outside Europe that has blonde hair among “dark-skinned” indigenous groups without a European genetic influence.

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The current inhabitants of the Micronesia area have a syncretic culture that developed from the absorption of Filipino, Melanesian, and Polynesians cultures. For much of its existence, Micronesia has been controlled by outside forces, but at one time one of the larger Micronesian islands maintained a small empire with the island of Yap being the chief island. Spain conquered the area in the early 17th century and European powers controlled the island groups until the Japanese conquered them during WWII. After Japan’s defeat, the United States controlled most of the area until the 1980’s when the U.S. granted independence to most of the region while Guam remained a U.S. territory. yap dancers

Polynesia is the largest of the Pacific Islanders groups and consists of a triangle that extends from New Zealand to Easter Island in the west and to Hawaii in the north. There are two distinctive cultures in Polynesia, the western culture which is adapted to travel between small islands, and the eastern groups that live on the larger islands with higher populations such as Tonga, New Zealand, Niue, and Samoa.

Modern tattooing can be traced to Polynesia especially among the Maori tribes of New Zealand and has its etymological origin from the Samoan word “tatau.” As sailors came into contact with the islanders, many returned home with tattoos. The tribal band may be the most common tattoo influence.maori

When people in the United States think of the south Pacific, however, they normally think about Hawaii and its culture. Although Hawaii is part of Polynesia, it has more influences from outside cultures than most of Polynesia, with immigrants from China, Japan, and the United States pouring into the islands since they were “discovered” in 1778. The Hawaiian Islands were originally called the “Sandwich Islands” by Westerners in honor of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.

tiki god                                 Hawaiian dancers

Hawaii is one of four states that was an independent nation prior to joining the United States, along with the Vermont Republic (1791), the Republic of Texas (1845), and the California Republic (1846). The Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown by resident American and European businessmen in 1893. The businesses then established a republic that lasted from 1894 until 1898, when it was annexed by the United States as a territory. Hawaii became the fiftieth state in 1959.

Hawaiian surf     Hawaiian lagoon

So as I wrap up this series, what is the larger take away? It is that in a world that is consistently transient, whether we are talking about the movement of people or goods, understanding the larger world around us, how it’s inhabitants think, and how it has influenced us, will only make the world a better place. Understanding and appreciating global diversity allows us to make more informed choices and serves as the cornerstone of creating a better society.