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lundi 14 février 2011


Culture of Geography of Birth?

I was told of a forthcoming wedding in Paris. A Mali born French Nanny in her early thirties with a 12 year old daughter will marry some one from Mali, non citizen of France. Nothing extraordinary so far. But two professional photographers, one videographer and two separate wedding dresses! And the trousseau of course..

This made me think of the Culture of the Geography of Birth.

In the western countries, about 30 per cent of the population live under the poverty line, which is not calculated as a definite sum of income but as 60 % percentage of the median income. Median is not average, but it signifies that 50 % of the population earn less than the median income. Roughly 2/3 of the people who earn less than what is considered an average salary is leading a “poor” life. Whether a culture of poverty goes along with it, that is debatable, since Culture of Poverty has more than just monetary characteristics.

This lady would certainly fall into the “poor” category livig in a city where a cup of coffee costs $3 usd, you would be hard put to find anything cheaper. In a city which prides itself on its cuisine, the ingredients are way more expensive for many of the working class. All things “French” are expensive, we mean this term French as a cultural term, it is expensive by any standards, such as books, DVD, concerts, dining out, movies, necessary objects to look good, etc.

In France, the culture of Diversity is being banned or slowly being controlled but that creates a poverty of culture as well! The French government subsidizes the rent of this Malian immigrant, now a French citizen, to the tune of 400 Euros a month for rent, plus provides excellent schooling for her child and offers excellent health care for both.

The last wedding I attended in Miami had some similarity to this upcoming wedding.

The bride and the groom arrived in a long stretch limousine, the bride resplendent in a spotless white dress. The bridesmaids and the children in the wedding party were all dressed lavishly. The reception was held at the Common Room of a collective community in Kendall, a very nearly white suburb. From the ample reception hall one could overlook the swimming pool.

The bride and the groom were both Black; the groom, 67 years old was a US citizen and unemployed, the bride was 65 years old, a citizen of Jamaica, employed as a maid..apart from the opulence of the occasion, to record all that in history, there were photographers, videographers and a live DJ,flowers, champagne..

There are many parallels between these two stories



Economical including Immigration Status

And of course,

The culture of Geography of Birth.

I am not sure it is Africa they have in common, but the circumstances surrounding the Africans and their diaspora is moulded by the events of the past five hundred years, when the Europeans saw fit to “discover” them…

Would an Australian, a manual Labourer by trade, marry his sweetheart, with or without a visa, and undertake such an elaborate but still, gaudy ritual?

Is there a need to reaffirm some form of identity?

Are they doing it because they are from Mali or Jamaica, both very poor countries, now displaced and living in Metropolitan cities, eking out an existence.

A signature of arrival? A conclusion of a childhood dream?

Of is it part of a built in imagination, caused by poverty and lack of education or at least not being able to be modified by wealth or education?

I am told by a society photographer friend of mine in Miami that Indian migrants to the USA, despite being professionals or businessmen, spend lots of money on elaborate set ups. Here also we see the culture of Geography of Birth..

I attended a Chinese wedding in KL in Malaysia , it certainly was not a fashion show, there were guests there in street clothes, of course the bride and groom were the best dressed. The emphasis of the occasion was on food and money. Multiple courses of food followed one another and limitless alcohol, being drunk by people not used to drinking, such that almost everyone including the bride and groom were drunk at the end of many hours of shouting and drinking. The bride and groom it looked like were players in a set stage whose only aim was to collect as much money from the guests as possible, strangely enough these intentions were not subtle. I also noticed that at that wedding reception, with an ageing chinese band playing strict chinese music, there were two to three hundred guests present and I was the only non chinese.. Multiculturalism is not in the worldview of the Malaysian Chinese.

Monsoon Wedding is a lovely movie made by Mira Nair from India, it is worth recalling its memory in this context. Also that eternal love story as retold in The Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabo..

A woman who is born in a poor city has less chance of attaining 60 years of age, be free of cancer or heart disease or Diabetes.

Don't you think this culture of geography of Birth has an effect upon their collective consciousness?