Voices from East Africa: Dispelling Stereotypes through Exploration of Global Culture and Identity

Robin Rhodes-Crowell and Khalid Kitito
St. Lawrence University
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
Canton, NY
rcrowell@stlawu.edu, kkitito@stlawu.edu

Effective pedagogy in dispelling stereotypes requires critical analysis and comprehensive design of course assignments that share culture in ways that promotes cultural relativism, places Africa at the forefront of debate and discussion through examinations of love, religion, and food, and reflects on deep culture and dimensions as exhibited on the cultural iceberg (Adapted, Fanu, 1984 and Odenwald, 1993). These pedagogies will challenge students to see through misperceptions, to understand complexities within Africa, and ask difficult questions as to students’ own cultural identity and prejudices. In Globalization Enhances Cultural Identity, Yang (2007) claims “globalization is not simply homogenization; on the contrary, it enhances cultural identity.……The sense of “togetherness” brought with globalization is not at all in conflict with diversity.”  On the surface level, it may be easy for some liberal arts students to agree with embracing diversity while exploring their own culture. It sounds nice. However, globalization’s positive effect on cultural identity is easier to accept when one comes from a dominant culture. Despite exploration of diversity and cultural identity, some American students may still go on to subconsciously exercise ethnocentrism when it comes to Africa – maintaining an air of both remote acceptance while reinforcing stereotypes and quietly judging. Dispelling stereotypes in ways that ask students to not only consider contradicting information, but also explore their own deep culture, will not always be easy, but will award students the opportunity to deeply understand both the inequality and hope of identity and globalization.

Presented at Africa Network 2017 Conference
September 29-October 1, 2017.