Balinese Monkey Chant: A Cultural Analysis

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What does a businessman riding the subway in Tokyo have in common with a man performing a Balinese Monkey Chant? At first glance they may seem totally unrelated, but in fact it is the way they learned such behaviors that links them together. People’s behavior and knowledge is constantly influenced by their environment. In turn, these changes in knowledge or behavior result in learning. Baraka explores over 24 countries and cultures that overall demonstrate this concept. While Baraka’s raw footage of both industrialized and non-industrialized societies seem jarringly different at first, through closer analysis, one can see the similarities situated at the core. Furthermore, individuals in both societies partake in different religious behaviors, …show more content…
The process of learning is the same—some experience changes one’s behavior, which results in learning, no matter if the society is industrialized or not. Baraka features Maasai tribe members from Africa partaking in different jumping rituals and a group of men doing a Balinese monkey chant, while in Japan, we see a group of Butoh dancers. I would argue that most of this learning could be considered observational learning. These rituals seem to be specific to culture and an individual most likely grows up watching others perform them. Through observation, the individual can gain the knowledge of how to perform the desired behavior when needed. Furthermore, there seems to be a reason or a purpose behind each ritual. The individual has to learn when it is appropriate to perform the behaviors associated with the ritual. For example, I have learned in a previous class that the Maasai men jumping is actually part of a puberty ritual. The knowledge of when to perform this ritual (at puberty) and how to do it correctly all contribute to learning. These features of knowing when and how to do a behavior all contribute to learning. The more times an individual experiences and partakes in these rituals, the stronger their learning will …show more content…
Cross-culturally, individuals use the same processes to learn new things based on their surroundings and experiences. Whether an individual is living in an industrialized or a non-industrialized society, there is evidence that behavior can be shaped by environment, which in turn results in learning. Furthermore, we can break behaviors down into religious rituals, secular rituals, and work-based performances that are commonly seen across cultures and allow the individual to learn. The film Baraka shows us that although people may vary in many different ways, our behaviors and how we learn are more interconnected and less predictable than one might

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