In reading about the Samoans there were quite a few things that stuck me as similarities between their culture, my culture, and the stereotypical American culture. My culture because in some ways I grew up in a culture similar to the Samoan’s, and American cultures for both belief similarities and political ones between their norms and American politics. It was interesting to me to read about the hierarchical system they had within their communities because there were so many parallels between it and the American government, which is also a part of my culture.
When reading about the Samoans and their culture it was very easy for me to take an etic approach I had the experience of living in Hawaii as a child, where many Samoans moved during the Great Migration of the 19505. The intermingling in Hawaiian culture of not only the Samoans, but also the other pacific island races, has created a culture there very similar to that of the Samoans.
This is relevant because the half of my family that lives in Hawaii and helped raised me, raised me in a lot of the same ways that the Samoans raise their children. When I was growing up there I learned to respect my elders in every way possible because disrespecting them was wrong and unheard of. This is the same in Samoan culture, Another similarity that I noticed between the cultures I gained there and what I read about Samoan culture was that in both cultures living with extended family is expected.
I cannot remember one time when I was living with just my immediate family; I lived with aunties, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Lastly, the importance of meals to the Samoans is about equal to the importance of meals in Hawaiian culture, almost any event calls for a feast. The Samoans have large feasts for everything from weddings and inaugurations to funerals and everyday family meals.
The same happened when I lived in Hawaii. Not only this part of my personal culture made it easy to take an etic approach to the Samoan culture though, there were also ways in which the stereotypical American culture that is also a part of me made this possible. From the American cultured part of me I noticed that the Samoans were not too different from Americans in some aspects of their life. One example is how the men are in charge of running the household and providing for it. Although the American stereotype of men being the only ones who can provide for a home and family is not as rigid today as it once was, it still exists Secondly, the way that men are elected matais and chiefs of their households and villages is somewhat similar to how our American government works. In Samoan culture, the man who is seen as best fit for the job by the measure of his intelligence, wealth, knowledge, and previous family service is the candidate who will become matai.
In American politics, we vote for candidates based on some of these same standards. If they were not wealthy they would not have been able to afford to run in the first place, if they were not knowledgeable and intelligent no one would vote for them, and if they had no previous experience they would not stand a chance. In these aspects Samoan culture is not so different from even American culture. All in all, both my Hawaiian and American cultures served as useful tools in understanding the culture of the Samoans. I found that I enjoyed this reading the most out of all that we have done so far because it was exciting for me to see how well I could relate this culture to myself as opposed to others that are much harder for me to relate to. I thought that despite finding a lot of similarities that were easy to understand, the differences that exist in Samoan culture were easier to understand and respect as well.