Cultural Relativism

TOPIC:
Cultural relativism is the principle that an individual human’s beliefs and values must be understood in terms of his or her own culture. Family structure, gender roles/opportunities and the sexual division of labor are areas of human culture that vary greatly in different parts of the world. Another area that varies greatly is access to education and health care resources.

From a position of cultural relativism, discuss the situation of women in Mali in terms of their social, economic and health status in the community. Is strongly recommended that you follow the organizational strategy listed below:

Introduction – make sure to define cultural relativism and explain what the essay will include/analyze. The introduction is not a summary of the book. When writing essays, it’s often beneficial to draft points of the introduction first, and then after the body of the paper is written, go back and finish the introduction (you can’t introduce something you haven’t written yet!).

Body of essay – Analyze (do not summarize or list) the economic, social, and health situations of the Malian community in Nampossela using a cultural relativistic framework (make sure you are not being ethnocentric in your analysis!). 6 pages

  • Provide detailed examples to support your analysis (details include the names of people involved, the setting, how people in those situations handled the conditions, and page numbers as references).
  • Where appropriate, include how Kris handled these situations.
  • You should have at least one detailed example in your analysis for each of the three areas covered: economic, social, and healthcare.
  • You must demonstrate that you thoroughly read the entire book. Make sure you use examples throughout the book, not just ones from the first half.

Conclusion – don’t just stop writing once you’ve reached the word minimum! This needs to be a fully formed essay, so you must have a conclusion.

  • Wrap up your analysis
  • Provide a personal opinion of the book as well as if you would recommend it to others and why (this is a required component).

Issues to consider in your essay (these questions are provided to guide your thinking about the topic; you don’t have to answer all of them in your essay):

  • What were the main responsibilities and expectations of women in Nampossela?
  • What type of family structure and marital arrangements were the norm?
  • What type of health services were available to women in the village?
  • What were some of the health risks women faced?
  • What are the attitudes surrounding childbearing and domestic violence in the village, and how does this impact the daily lives of women there?
  • How does Kris handle cultural differences that she encounters?
  • What types of challenges/limitations do Peace Corps volunteers face when working on projects abroad; how does Kris handle these while still being respectful of the people in the village?

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