Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Journey to Jordan

As I sat on the 5 hour flight to Jordan I thought of what Jordan would be like and the encounters we would have there. I then reflected on my blog. One of the questions that a reader had in my previous blog entry was: "How do you define culture?".
I put in a great deal of thought and research into it and found out that culture seems to be a notoriously difficult term to define. Despite many anthropologists defining culture, no one has seemed to be able to agree on one definition. There was one particular definition which I found close to how I would describe it:
"Culture is a fuzzy set of basic assumptions and values, orientations to life, beliefs, policies, procedures and behavioural conventions that are shared by a group of people, and that influence (but do not determine) each member’s behaviour and his/her interpretations of the ‘meaning’ of other people’s behaviour.’" (1).
In my previous blog, I mentioned that I would want to explore Jordanian culture. I felt as though I was going to Jordan as a cultural tourist. The term "cultural tourist", like culture is also complex to define but most sources refer to it as ‘the movement of persons to cultural attractions,with the intention to gather new information and experiences to satisfy their cultural needs. Cultural tourism may be defined as special interest holidays, essentially motivated by cultural interests such as trips and visits to historical sites and monuments, museums and galleries, artistic performances and festivals as well as lifestyles of communities' (2). This fit in with our plan for Jordan  We were to visit different archaeologically significant sites such as Petra, Jerash and Madaba and also visit museums and handicraft shops.


Figure 1: Map showing the sites we were to visit in Jordan (south of Jerash) 


In this way I would fulfill the role of a cultural tourist. Besides the sites and monuments I also wanted was to pay close attention to the behavior of the local people, their religious practices, food habits and social interactions with each other and tourists alike.
Having lived with Arabs I felt like I had some idea of what I could expect. I also felt like as though living in India for 16 years could help me understand some of the religious and cultural practices of the people. "Cultural similarity' is one important factor in shaping the socio- cultural effects that arises from the encounter between tourists and locals. I anticipated the culture of Jordan to be somewhat similar to that of India. I wanted to find out how my experiences varied from someone who came from a very dissimilar culture, or whether it varied at all. I was excited at the prospect of exploring these aspects in Jordan.
As I thought all these things I heard the cabin crew announce: " Please fasten your seat belts, we are approaching Amman."


References

(1) Spencer-Oatey, H. (2012) What is culture? A compilation of quotations. GlobalPAD Core Concepts [Online]  Available at: http://go.warwick.ac.uk/globalpadintercultural

(2) Chandran, A.  A study on cultural tourism in kerala and tamilnadu with special reference to art and archietecture [Online] Available at: http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/12807/7/07_chapter%201.pdf