Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ethnocentric America: Its Ignorance is Showing

Ethnocentrism is a way of examining the world in terms of our own culture. Often an ethnocentric view will lead one to ignore what is important in other cultures while focusing on what is important in theirs. This tendency to be ethnocentric can result in viewing one’s own culture as superior to another and can cause lack of ability to see other cultures without judging them on the basis of one’s culture. These effects may be why in American schools there is little world history that is taught, in my day there was none.
Lahiri invents a family which is common in America, a family with a diverse background. As one reads When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine, they are struck by the lack of concern given to Pakistan’s war by the American media, and the grade school teacher who thinks if it is not relevant to the student’s report, it is not important.
American schools are known for only teaching American history. But Lilia’s father insists she is not getting a good enough education. Lilia’s Father and Mr. Pirzada are very concerned about the situation in Pakistan. Lilia’s father wants to know if she knows about the situation in Pakistan, Lilia’s father, when realizing she does not know of the situation, states "What exactly do they teach you at school? . . . But what does she learn about the world?" (26-27). This is a valid concern because American culture often centers on only their own history, ignoring the history of the world. Later Lilia talks about what she is learning in school "We learned American history, of course, and American geography. That year and every year, it seemed, we began by studying the revolutionary war. We were taken . . . to visit Plymouth Rock . . . to walk the Freedom Trail . . . to the top of Bunker Hill Monument" (27). Lilia’s school shows a large bias toward American history, while ignoring the rest of the world’s history.
Mr. Pirzada and the Lilia’s Family are very concerned about what is happening in Pakistan, but as the war continues there is less news coverage about what is happening. This shows a lack of social concern on the part of Americans who steadily lose interest in the Pakistan war.
A kind of bonding occurs between the Lilia’s family and Mr. Pirzada. This is not a lasting relationship, since once he le

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