Topics in Culture Studies

Assignment 1:

            The concept of conquest has been a recurring phenomenon in many cultures. This concept has spread to the financial, economical and political aspects of the society. Most notable is the spread of conquest in culture. This often comes up when migration results in the integration of different cultures. In most places, conquest is seen as a violent action but in culture conquest, the process is long and peaceful. The process of culture conquest involves the assimilation of a foreign culture into the practices of the host culture. In most cases, the host cultures do not knowingly take up the foreign practices but in some cases, they are forced to.

The foreign culture is often referred to as the donor culture while the host culture is called the recipient culture. Additionally, it is also important to note that the donor culture does not impose all its practices on the host culture. There are some selected practices, which are imposed. The process of selection may be intentional or unintentional thus resulting in the formation of a new culture. The resultant culture is not usually a reflection of the donor culture but a combination of practices in the donor and host culture. In the conquest process, the weaker culture is usually easily influenced by the stronger culture. An example is the traditional setting where Latin Americans lost their culture as a result of conquest by other stronger cultures (Cheryl Martin and Mark Wasserman, 2007, p. 245).

Cultural crystallization can be defined as the process whereby a conquest culture is affected by other cultures developing into a complex form of culture. This process takes place when foreign cultures influence the conquest culture’s different aspects. Cultural crystallization greatly influenced the Latin American society. Through colonialism, the European culture influenced the Latin American culture creating a conquest culture. Additionally, other factors like slave trade and migration further enhanced the crystallization of the Latin American culture resulting into what it is now (Cheryl Martin and Mark Wasserman, 2007, p. 232)

Assignment 2: Part I: Demographics and Culture on Costa Rica

            Costa Rica is a country located in Central America bordering the Caribbean Sea and the northern part of the Pacific Ocean. The country occupies a total of 51,100 sq km, both on land and water (Frederic Miller, et al, 2010, p. 29). Additionally, Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua and Panama. Costa Rica has an estimated population of above 4.5 million people. More than 90% of the total population is made up of whites and Mestizos. Additionally, 3% of the population is made up blacks who are referred to as Afro-Costa Ricans. Other people in this country include Amerindians and Asians with a higher percentage of Chinese and Asians. Migration also influences the makeup of the people. The population growth rate is estimated at 1.5% per year, which is relatively high as compared to other countries. Subsequently, the birth rate is at 17.8 births per every 1,000 people while the death rate is 4.1 deaths per every 1,000 people (Costa Rican Tourist Board, 2009, p.1).

The age and gender distribution is highly dependent on the age groups according to which people are divided. In general, 51% of all people are male while 49% are female. The people aged 0-14 years make up 27% of the total population, which amounts to about 1.2 million people. People aged 15-64 years, make up 64% of the total population totaling to 2.8 million people. Those above 65 make up 5.5% of the total population totaling to 250 thousand people. In Costa Rica, 60% of all people live in urban areas while 40% live in rural and semi-urban areas (Frederic Miller, Agnes Vandome and John McBrewster, 2010, p. 29). Rural-urban migration is a common factor in this country thus an increase in urban population is expected. The most prevalent religion in Costa Rica is Roman Catholicism with 76% prevalence. Other prevalent religions include evangelicalism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and smaller protestant groups. The official language is Spanish but other languages like different forms of English and Puerto Limon are also spoken. The literacy levels are relatively high at 94.5%, which is higher than most developing countries. The population density of Costa Rica is 89.6 people per square kilometer. In 1990, Costa Rica had a total population of about 3.051million people (Costa Rican Tourist Board, 2009, p.1). On the other hand, Costa Rica had a population of about 1.07 million people in 1970.

The Costa Rican culture is influenced greatly by the Spanish culture creating a blend of the Spanish and Costa Rican culture. Language is part of the culture with a majority of the people speaking Spanish. Other people speak a Jamaican form of English while most Asians have retained their native languages. In schools, German, Chinese, French and Italian are taught as second languages. The people of Costa Rica are often described as friendly and welcoming especially with visitors. Nonetheless, friendships are based on how well you know a person. The Costa Rican society believes in a well-knit family unit. People value the family, follow the teachings of Catholicism, and make their decisions based on these teachings. Art also plays a major role in Costa Rican culture with an emphasis on painting and carving sculptures. Folk music is also part of the culture here with many tourists enjoying the Costa Rican music. It is mainly based on the tambito rhythm with the main genre being punto (Frederic Miller, Agnes Vandome and John McBrewster, 2010, p. 29). The country also holds an annual arts festival dubbed the International Arts Festival. The cuisine of the Costa Rican people is a blend between different cultures. Spanish, American and Caribbean influences can be seen in the food.

The Costa Ricans hold values that are different from the rest of the world. The most crucial part of these values is the friendly and welcoming nature of the Costa Ricans. Tourism is one of the economy boosters and therefore the reception matters a lot. The people also love to celebrate and have fun and have different forms of entertainment. Education is also regarded highly in this society as shown by the high literacy rates. The different ethnic groups also present a varied form of cultures with people from different areas having different values.




Costa Rican Tourist Board. People and Demographics. (2009, 19 Feb). Retrieved from

Martin, C. E., & Mark, W. (2008). Latin America and Its People. New York, NY: Pearson Longman.

Miller, F., Agnes, V., & John, M. (2010). Demographics, Population, Population Density, Ethnic Group, United Nations, Black, Afro- Costa Rican, English Language, Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, Middle East, Nicaragua, Latin America. New York, NY: Alphascript.

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