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giovedì 19 ottobre 2017

Anthropology of globalization for Global Governance #07

18 10 2017. Culture is symbolic. This is the topic for this class. I stated all along my source, namely Ferdinand De Saussure and his “Course in General Linguistics” (1916), then pragmatic semiotics as delimited in the works of Umberto Eco, and eventually Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations.
The aim of the class was to clarify the meaning of this sentence by Max Weber that we shall read next class reported by Clifford Geertz: “Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun”.
We analysed what a SIGN is made of, that is its SIGNIFIER (significant in the original French, significante in Italian) and a SIGNIFIED (signifie, meaning, significato).
We insisted on the ARBITRARY link between the two parts (Language is not a NATURAL link towards reality).
Then we discussed about the REFERENTIAL THEORY of the signified and the more useful THEORY OF USE of the signified. According to the first, the meaning corresponds to “the real thing” or the “mental image” we can formulate for that sign. But we have seen this be too weak a theory to explain the most interesting part of human communication, which is made of signs for which one can hardly detect a physical referent or a mental image. With a few examples we have insisted that signs derive their meaning from the shared usage with other people, among other signs. Their meaning is given by their contextualization among other signs, in what we can figure out as a semantic web, a specific interconnection of signs. Meanings are public, not the minds of people.
Signs are arbitrary not in the sense they are totally random, but in the sense the connection between signifier and signified is established by culture, i.e. it may transform from context to context.
In order to exemplify this complex relation between sings and culture we watched this video on Ochobo, a Japanese aesthetic principle.
We ended class noticing that the intersubjective existence of Ochobo makes it quite different from the objective reality of stones and the totally subjective belief in fairies. Signs as cultural means of expression are a tricky object of research and analysis. We have to move towards symbolic anthropology to collect the tools and method that may help us develop a sound understanding of cultures as webs of signs.


Q1 Identify and analyse an ochobo-like thing of your knowledge. Focus on its being not related to “one physical thing”, but the expression of cultural creativity in elaborating a notion which has no concrete referent and whose meaning must be identified in the usage of that sign.

55 commenti:

Selene G. ha detto...

I had to think quite a while to find an Ochobo like thing in the German culture. I think this is mostly due to the fact that many very German cultural traditions are not very important for us younger generations. Of course the first thing which came to my mind was being on time but I have talked about that in another comment before, therefor I remembered a habit that is only very important in my state and especially in my certain region: Swabia. The swabians are known for being strict, always in a bad mood and doing everything very accurate. At the end of the 15th century my stat invented the: Kehrwoche. This means every Saturday someone has to clean the stairs, entrance hall as well as the rest of the common areas inside a house. In addition, you have the duty to clean the public pathway in front of your house. There was a time in history where this practice was a law and had to be down every Sunday the residences of each house would take turns and until today Swabians take this very serious. The neighbors under us have a sign with: Kehrwoche and every week it wonders from one door to the other so that everyone can see who’s turn it is to clean that week. Now a days the Kehrwoche is mostly in the rental agreement and will always stay a part of our very obsessed culture when it comes to order.

Francesco Bono ha detto...

QUESTION 1: One of the most evident example of different connections between significant and meaning depending on cultures is the one of colours. In western culture, white colour is associated with purity, goodness, grace, virginity and spirituality and this is the reason why brides are always white-dressed. Last June, my mum and I went to a marriage where the bride was blue-dressed: we commented at least three times how strange her choice was for us! However, if a Chinese bride chose a white dress for her marriage it would be totally unappropriated, because in China brides usually wear red dresses. Indeed, red colour represents good omen and joy. It is interesting to notice how different concepts the two cultures have elaborated: Christians believe in the sacredness of marriage, where especially the bride has to be closer to an angel than any other person, to be ready and worth of the moment. Joy is a consequence of this holy ceremony and through that, it will remain with the spouses for the rest of their lives; instead, Chinese culture is more practical and sees joy from the very beginning, with no need for initiation rituals. The same could be said for funerals: if in the western part of the world someone went to a funeral white dressed, he/she would be considered insolent, disrespectful of the sorrow. However, it would be totally normal in China, where white colour represents fulfilment and compliance. Instead, we westerns do wear black clothes at funerals because to us it represents the absence of lights and the post-death unknown dimension. Here more than elsewhere, we can see the different ideas that the two cultures have about life and death. If for Chinese death represents the end of a natural course of events, Christians do believe in something after it. Different behaviours in life follows this premise. It is just the beginning of an extremely long speech which I will be able to better analyse once I will get the tools for detecting connections between significant and meaning!

martina forbicini ha detto...

Question 1 During the last part of this class, we highlighted the so-called “Ochobo”: focusing on the concept of rocks and fairies, we mentioned the fact that on the one hand we would tend to classify this behaviour in the second category since it’s something that doesn’t exist on a physical point of view but it actually embodies a subjective belief belonging to one specific culture. On the other hand, the consequences of this aesthetic principle are objective and real: in this case, the impossibility for Japanese women to eat burgers of a size different from the small one without being considered rude and impolite in public. If I think about an ochobo-like thing, what first come to my mind is the notion of superstition about the number 17 spread all over Italy: it doesn’t matter if it’s the day in the calendar, if it’s your hotel room or your seat on the plane, it will always be considered as something bringing bad luck. Even if, it’s not “one physical thing” but just a way of thinking, it affects the behavior of people to the point they’ll not start the day with a good mood or they will choose another seat instead of that one. It represents an expression of cultural creativity: being superstitious is part of the Italian culture and this particular number will produce the same feeling of uneasiness on all Italians. This underlines that the meaning of this sign stems from the arranged consensus that the Italian society has given to it: the shared usage with other people makes possible for everyone to agree that number 17 is unlucky and better to avoid. Nevertheless, this depends on the country we’re taking into consideration: in other places such as United States of America, it would be considered unfortunate to deal with the number 13, while in Tibet number 17 is a symbol of fortune and prosperity. Therefore, we can understand that the meaning of it is not in the word itself, but it’s given by the context and in the way we meaningfully refer to it.

Marco Siniscalco ha detto...

One of the clearest representations of different connections between significant and signified depending on cultures is related to hand gestures.
Hand gestures are a great way of reinforcing what we are saying but they may mean different things in disparate cultures.
Thumbs up: in most American and European cultures meaning things are going according to your plans or something you approve of. Nevertheless, the going good sign translates into a rude and offensive gesture in Islamic and Asian countries. In Australia it means OK, but if you move it up and down, it is considered as a grave insult.
Stop: when one raises the hand up with the palm facing towards the opposite person, it means to stop in American and British countries. In a stop sign, the hand is tilted forward. This means the person is in an authoritative figure and asking one to stop. If the fingers are pushing down, it will indicate that the gesture is indicated for the person to sit down or settle. This is not a defensive hand gesture and is, in fact, a gesture to take control over the person it is intended for. If you were to use this sign in Singapore or Malaysia, it would mean that one is trying to hail someone attention like a waiter or asking for permission to speak.
Snapping fingers over and over may mean one is trying to remember something someone has forgotten. In Latin America, snapping fingers means asking one to hurry up. In Great Britain and America, one snaps fingers when one remembers something or gets an idea.

Claudia Schiavelli ha detto...

Something that is nor objective or subjective but intersubjective instead, is something that has no real or vital meaning to be as such, but people belonging and recognizing that culture maintains it alive by putting it into practice.
An ochobo-like example can be the wearing of black clothes only for widow women. As far as I know, it is still very present in Southern Italy but also in Romania and South America, and such intersubjective convention can be extraordinarily long in its process. A woman, in this belief, needs to show respect to her late husband by wearing black, a color that expresses lack of joy and openness to life itself. The fact that such a sign has no real meaning; no husband would ever get mad at his wife for not wearing black for three years or more, is only an action that women comply with in order not to create a "scandal" in their own community.

emmanuel Krah Plarhar ha detto...

QUESTION 1

An Ochobo-like thing that is not being related to one thing but has different explanations in different cultures that am going to discuss is "smile". Many individuals about all the population of the world think smiling is one thing that has similar explanation or meaning across the world. Different cultures see it differently. Smiling in cultures show emotions and other cultures tend not to shows those emotions through that channel. In American culture, when a child takes a photo he or she is told to say "cheese" which shows goodwill. Comparing that to Russian culture is it quite different. A Russian taking a photo looks stone-faced. It is not like he or she doesn't like the photo but it is how their cultures is. It doesnt mean they are unhappy but it is quite the opposite. It’s just that grinning without cause is not a skill Russians possess or feel compelled to cultivate. There’s even a Russian proverb that translates, roughly, to “laughing for no reason is a sign of stupidity.”
This factor got me thinking and it made me read an article. What I found was quite interesting though. It stated that some Japanese people have reported finding typical American facial expressions a little strange. In the sense that their mouths are slightly too open and the mouth corners raised too much. And Japanese smiles can be just as confusing for outsiders. In Japan the term ‘Naki-warai’ is used to convey crying while laughing and describes how Japanese people will be seen to smile when angry, sad or embarrassed. As they also smile when happy, ‘Naki-warai’ is bound to cause confusion across cultures. So basically in Japan, people concentrate on the eye more than the mouth becuase they believe that the eyes hold all emotion of man. That is why they can distinguish between a false emotion and a true emotion.

clara saglietti ha detto...

“Ceci n’est pas une pipe” was written in Magritte’s “La Trahison des images” representing the image of a pipe, the significant and not the signified.
Duchamp’s “Fountain” was not an urinal anymore, but it scandalised the bourgeois mentality of the time, attributing to a symbol another meaning and function.
These are artistic provocations to put in doubt some cultural convictions and schemes, showing the contradictions at the basis of mainstream thinking. In fact, every culture tends to create its peculiar set of shared signs and rituals that thanks to their intersubjective character are considered normal. It is not only the case of religions that incorporate in the dogma many beliefs and behaviours, but all the social groups elaborate their notions, which have concrete or abstract referents and may require signs to be identified.
One of the most controversial notions is the one of power, in particular of hierarchical power in his numerous forms. Nowadays we are used to the idea that democracy is the best form of government and we do not even understand that the power is given to the people to a very small extent, as we do not take part in any decisional process for the life of the community, but simply delegate the power to some representatives. What is more, we are induced to think to have a huge amount of freedom, meaning positive freedom of acting, but we often only exert negative freedom, praising our privacy. In fact, power do not only regard the political sphere, but also the social, economic and cultural ones. In all these ambits, it is possible to identify signs highlighting the superiority of someone and his right to rule over others, like the display of richness, the respect towards people from a higher social status or with a deeper education, the organisation of space in the workplace and in cities and so on. Such notion with all its practical implication is so deeply rooted in what De La Boetié called “voluntary servitude” that it almost impossible to perceive it and therefore try to change it. However, this is only a feature of some cultures: Native Americans didn’t need dissidents, but had institutionalised the figure of the “sacred clown” or of the “trickster” to put the tradition in doubt. The Lakota people for example had the “Heyoka”, a contrarian who did things unconventionally or backwards, presenting important issues by fooling or provoking, working both as a mirror and as a teacher aware of the duality of everything. Therefore, they were allowed also to criticise and violate cultural taboos or notions, so that the society could constantly evolve, without the need of violent actions against the power or artistic shocks.

Tamoi Fujii ha detto...

Another example from the Japanese culture of a cultural item, which is more "fairy" than a "rock" is the concept of purity and hygiene.

Indipendently from scientific findings about germs and viruses, the Japanese culture has its own ways to identify what's clean and what's dirty:
Schools and Buddhist temples are clean, so you have to take off the shoes before entering, Traditional Restaurants and Shinto Sanctuaries are super clean, so you also have to wash your hands before entering, and most of all your home is the cleanest thing on Earth, so you also have to take a bath in the bathtub when you get home, after spending time in the dirty Outside World.
Moreover the Toilet has always to be away from the Bathtub, since it is dirty. That's why you have to wear special slippers to get to the toilet when you're home. The dirtiest thing on the planet is Money. You better wear gloves when you touch it. Japanese people always have wet tissues on them, in case they touch money, or they sweat, since sweat is another dirty thing.

This idea of what's clean, and not are strongly symbolical, especially in the case of washing hands before entering the sanctuary or after touching money, since they relate to the idea of purity of the soul. Another example is the dying tradition of washing the guests feet, when they enter your home.
One of the implications of this Idea on the real world is the sales of tissues, sanitizers and slippers in Japan are great.
Furthermore the assumption that toilets and the outside world are dirty made Japanese people obsessed with hygiene in public spaces, making Japanese public toilets some of the cleanest things on the whole planet Earth. On contrary Japanese people are pretty lazy when it comes to cleaning their homes, since they are assumed to be clean.

Adriana Grigoras ha detto...

Per me un esempio di Ochobo sarebbe l'uso di Hijab o burqa nella cultura araba.Non è reale come la roccia di qui abbiamo parlato in classe ma è una realtà ,è un prodotto culturale che caratterizza le donne arabe.Di sicuro non è una condizione che assicura la sopravvivenza di questa cultura ma è un simbolo con diversi significati:simbolo della dignità femminile e religiosa oppure il simbolo della subordinazione della donna rispetto all'uomo che la vede come una sua proprietà. Questo simbolo dimostra apparte il rifiuto all'occiddentalizzazione una differenza estetica con l'Occidente.Per capire cosa vuol dire Hijab si deve capire il suo valore, il suo significato per quella cultura ma solamente dopo un'accurata interpretazione e non osservazione. Perché il velo è un segno di quel sistema e non viene osservato ma interpretato. Un persona semplice solo osserva questo velo fa delle affermazioni pro e contro ed è finita così. Un antropologo interpreta da una prospettiva emica questo principio estetico perché è un simbolo di identità. P

Adriana Grigoras ha detto...

Per me un esempio di Ochobo sarebbe il Hijab,un principio estetico della cultura araba. Non è reale come la roccia di cui abbiamo parlato in classe ma è una realtà. Questo Ochobo è un prodotto culturale che caratterizza le donne arabe.Di sicuro non è una condizione che assicura la sopravvivenza di questa cultura però è un simbolo con diversi significati:per alcuni è un simbolo delle dignità femminile e religiosa, per altri un simbolo della subordinazione della donna rispetto all'uomo che la vede come una sua proprietà. Questo Hijab dimostra apparte il rifiuto dell'occidentalizzazione una differenza estetica con l'Occidente.Per capire il significato di questo Ochobo si deve interpretare il suo valore nella cultura araba.Non basta solo osservare.Si deve fare un tick description da una prospettiva emica,cioè interpretare l'Hijab dal punto di vista arabo.Hijab è un segno ,è un simbolo dell'identità della cultura araba ed essendo un segno non va osservato, ma interpretato con un approccio ermeneutico.La loro cultura ha creato questa estetica, cioè un loro Ochobo ed è considerato normale per il loro sistema .

Riccardo Santini ha detto...

When talking about signs, we also mentioned love. And what first comes to my mind is the shared belief that the ultimate sign and manifestation of love is marriage. After several years spent together most think that marriage is around the corner. Indeed what I feel is that a vast majority believes in marriage to be the last step of a romantic relationship, the sign of true love. But proving to love someone is not something that you do it once and for all and then it is done, it is something that must last over time. Nourishing a relationship has to be done step by step in a daily effort.
Marriage indeed does not ‘’validate’’ a relationship, it is not an essential sign of love, as we do not need marriage to fall in love. As a matter of fact, even after several year together, unmarried couples can still love each other, and they can still take care of each other.
It is not marriage to be wrong, but the common belief we have (especially us Italians) that makes us think that marriage is expected after a certain number of years spent together.

elettra schininà ha detto...

Finding an Ochobo like thing for the Italian culture is not that simple for me, thus because I always lived in a house between two different cultures the one of my mother and the one of my father. But even if my belonging to the Italian culture is only half I think that an Ochobo like thing (that is good for a lot of cultures) could be the way now girls and guys get married. Before you couldn’t choose to whom be in love, you was “pledge” to a determinate person by choice of both families parents. Now is completely changed, your first kiss happened early in you time life than before, you can change mind above someone and marry who ever you want. I’m glad that this occurrence changed, giving the possibility to be happy in your life, with your family. Live with no constriction and feel love in the deepest way is possible.

Silvia Marcelli ha detto...

It is pretty difficult to find an ochobo like thing in the Italian culture. Identify in a culture something that is aesthetic but has a real and objective meaning, according to the cultures' beliefs is very hard for me. I had to think a lot about it but I guess that an embodiment of the ochobo in the Italian culture could be the superstitions. Indeed I have to say that even if I do not personally believe in those kinds of stuff many Italians are very into this tricky concept of something bringing bad luck to you. To share a personal experience, a couple of summers ago a went to Tuscany, camping with some friends and while we were cooking the salt container felt down, spreading all over the ground. Honestly, the first thing that came to my mind was to clean up the mess but when I went down to take away the salt, one of my friend anticipated me, took the salt and thrown it behind him three times. I was a bit of astonished honestly because to me he only further spread the mess, and when I asked him why, he simply said: "otherwise is bad luck". This is a silly example but if we pay attention is unbelievable how many Italian people let this apparently unreal thing to have an influence on their lives. So like the ochobo, superstitions tend to have a real and objective consequence on us, according to the beliefs of the Italian culture.

Nicolas Dietrich ha detto...

To identify an ochobo-like thing, let me first recall the definition of the concept of “intersubjectivity”. A sign is composed of a signifier and a signified (for example when we write the word “cat” on a board with chalk; the signifier would be the chalk and the signified the cat). However, there is no natural i.e. an arbitrary link between both elements. In fact, the connection between them is created by culture and can thus vary among different ones. Here comes the notion of intersubjective things that take thus place between purely objective things such as a “rock” and others completely subjective like “fairies”. In fact, we can define them as cultural things that are not real but the consequences to believe in them are extremely concrete.

In addition to the example with rocks and fairies, we considered in class the example of Santa Claus. Although he doesn’t exist at all and is totally subjective, he has a real, objective, consequence in the economy, which is at its highest during the fourth semester (Christmas period).

I experienced another example of this when I was in Peru. In fact, many but not all old people were wearing large black hats. For western people, wearing a hat can be for several reasons such as due to the sun and high temperature or because it’s trendy. I was in a cold region and it wasn’t sunny so I asked my guide the reason the wear such a hat. He answered me that for seniors, wearing a hat signifies they are widowers (as old women dressed in black in south Europa). Here it’s thus a good example of arbitrary link between the signifier (hat) and signified (widowers), in which this connection has been established through the Peruvian culture.

Cristina Bottoni ha detto...

The world in which we are living has lots of secrets, lots of hidden meanings, lots of unexpected characteristics.
Some of the things that surround us can be perceived and explained just by describing them: these are the objects that belong to the sensitive world, they can be felt with our five senses, they can be touched, can be smelled, can be seen, can be heard. Until here, it seems quite easy: if we think at something just by basing of the manifestation that they have in the real world, we would be able to explain everything that happens out there. Unfortunately, by doing so we would have just a partial vision of the things that live in this world. Instead, there is a whole universe of phenomena that cannot be explained just by using words and physical descriptions of them: these are the things that belong to the mental sphere of our mind. Then, we have a third group which is in the middle. It is the theory of “intersubjectivity” a sort of hybrid creature which stands between the physical and the mental world: it includes some of the thing that belongs to the mental part of our life but have a physical effect on it. These are the cultural beliefs.
“Ochobo” is the belief that smallmouths are the pinnacle of beauty paired with the fact that it is considered well-mannered to cover one’s mouth while eating. It is a very common idea in Japan and it affects mainly women. So, when women have to choose something to eat (and the size of it), they will avoid oily and giant burgers.
If I have to make an example of an ochobo-like situation, I will definitively pick some typical cultural superstitions and behaviours regarding the wedding. When the wedding day is approaching and it comes the time for the bride to choose a dress, it has to be done secretly, in order to avoid the fiancée to see it. He cannot see the dress until the very moment of the wedding ceremony, in which the bride will walk towards him. Furthermore, the last night before the wedding has to be spent separately, and the two spouses have to say farewell to their “single” life. Finally, the last idea is that on the first night of marriage the new couple has to consummate the union, by sleeping together.

Ganna Korniychenko ha detto...

1. Coming from a different culture I immediately noticed differences of the ways of expression between Ukraine and Italy. Communication is fundamental among people and a part of it is named not verbal. Body language was studied in order to explain and translate some specific movements and expression into the real meaning of what is voluntary or involuntarily said. Ukrainian people could seem more ‘cold’ because of the lack of explicit and energy gestures. Italian people are much more warm in their behavioral gestures in the communication process. They gesticulate a lot in oder to explain what they want to say and also many of these latter became a sort of traditional meanings; in fact, there are peculiar movements to say ‘What do you want?’ or ‘What are you talking about’ , ‘This food is good’ or ‘Go away from here’. Simple gestures became an important sign especially in Rome this is strongly evident. In the past communication with Gods was perceived crucial for the well-being of the society; before but also nowadays many tribes believed in some specific events. This explains perfectly the concept of ’Intersubjectivity’ where the believe belongs to specific tribes and not to others (subjectivity) but at the same time it create an effect in the reality. For example some tribes involved in agricultural activities believed that is was necessary make a sacrifice to God in order to have good crops. In the Philippines farmers practice a specific ritual by scarifying chickens the first day and a pig the second day, then they dance in circle in order to receive back a good rice crop.

Lavinia Apicella ha detto...

As we discussed in class, human signs have no connection with reality, but are created by men in different cultures and therefore have to be interpreted and cannot be observed. We talked about the example of “Ochobo” in the Japanese culture and mentioned also “Santa Claus” as a western creation. In the Italian culture, there are many signs that are intersubjective because they have to be interpreted within the specific context of Italy: for instance, some typical cultural signs could be hand gestures and facial expressions. There is a hand gesture for almost everything, from “what is it?” to “I’m hungry!” and “Let’s go now!”, that are used and recognized by all Italians. Traditionally, this is linked to the fact that Italy, after Greece, was the country where the first important theatrical representations were born and started developing. When I lived in Sweden, I found myself often using some Italian hand gestures to communicate with swedes, without realizing that they couldn’t understand what I wanted to express. In conclusion, in my opinion, we can consider hand gestures and facial expressions as typical features of the Italian culture, since they were created by Italians long ago and so can be understood only within those who have some knowledge of the culture or have lived in Italy for some time. Nevertheless, they have no connection whatsoever with reality.

Rebecca Biraschi ha detto...

In order to find an example of the connection between the significant and the meaning, which depends on culture, I thought about the Catholic religion. In Italy, a country in which the majority of the population is catholic, funerals are celebrated in the Church following the traditional ritual.
Because of the fact that Sunday, is considered to be a sacred day, a day of rest, of celebration, and it is considered to be the day of God, funerals cannot take place on that day.
It is an ochobo-like thing: the idea that Sunday is the day of God, and so a day of joy and peace, brings the real consequence that the Catholic Church doen't celebrate funerals on that day.

gloria paronitti ha detto...

QUESTION 1: I think that every culture is full of ochobo-like things, since every culture tends to create its own peculiar costumes and traditions based on its story and belifs. Some of these creations are "rocks" for a culture and definitely "fairies" for others. For example as we said in class it is unthinkable for us to eat a dog, while for many countries dog can be a food as many other animals. Let's look at this issue from another perspective: in India the cow is a sacred animal, kill it is a crime. In large part of the rest of the world instead, cow is one of the most consumed meat. Same story apply to the monkey, eaten in other parts of Asia.
But ochobo-like things can also be found talking about religions: Christmas is a Christian celebration that creates lot of consequences in the daily life of Christian countries, from an absurd traffic in the city to the family that on the 25th of December gather together. This has no sense for other religions, but for the Christians neither reincarnation or karma has, for example. While talking about Islam a man cannot shake hands with a woman, while this is not forbidden in our religion.
Those are only some random examples, but they make clear that even if some ideas can be classified as fairies by some, they are realities for others, and for this they cause several consequences. Due to this "cultural subjectivity" I conclude stressing what we said in class, that the meaning of a sign is not universal but it is simply in the agreed consensus within a culture on the use of that sign.

Oliver Tomassi ha detto...

I believe that in the field of religion there are many examples of signs which derive their meaning from the shared use with other people. For example in the religion of Islam there is a purification ritual called Wudu which is the procedure for washing parts of the body: hands, mouth, nostrils, arms, head and feet with water. Muslims must be pure when reading the Qur'an and addressing God (fairy), thus they clean themselves before the formal prayers (rocks).
Similarly in the Catholic religion we can talk about the Eucharist which is a highly symbolic sacrament. This ritual was instituted by Jesus Christ during his Last Supper and commanded his followers to do it in memory of him while referring to the bread as "my body" and the wine as "my blood". This is why the Eucharistic celebration with bread and wine symbolises Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross for Christians. In both examples we notice common features like the shared and symbolic value of some thoughts and beliefs like the purification ritual or the memory of Christ's crucifixion. These are what we call "fairies", beliefs that have no direct impact on reality, but their consequences are very real and solid like rocks. In this case the rocks are the procedure of cleaning the body and eating bread and drinking wine throughout the ritual. This is how signs are created: a fairy and a rock, a signifier and signified come together and become part of the semantic web of culture.

Iza D ha detto...

We have seen that signs are often created by human beings and signifier and signified are determined by culture. If I have to think about an ochobo like thing in the romanian culture (as well as in others) is the presence of superstitions. These are no real but they are rooted in our cultures and not so easy to rationalize. An example of superstition is definitely the one linked to black cats. In fact, a black cat crossing the street before one person, is considered to bring bad luck. I think this is rooted in the Middle Ages, where cats have always been considered to be linked to witches, in particular the black ones.

Francesca Scanavini ha detto...

A possible example similar to the ochobo conception could be the common cultural habit of hanging a bow on the doors of our houses to signal that a baby is born. Indeed, in Italy, this practice is well known and shared and it amazes me how everyone knows what this sign means. In fact, even if the bow itself has a referential meaning, in this case, it shows an use one, because its meaning is not in the sign itself but in the way we use it. Of course, the meaning of this sign is a product of our culture, the result of an entire semantic web that humans have created by themselves and, similar to the ochobo, whoever knows this practice, is not aware of the reason why it is addressed with that connotation. For this reason, it is difficult to state if this tradition is closer to a rock or a fair because even if the bow is a physical object, the signified behind it is something which is completely unrelated to nature and completely built by our culture.

Zikang Zhang ha detto...

The first example of entering my mind is the gesture. In China,we are taught how to express 1-100 with two hands (it's hard to explain that when I showed to foreign friends they feel magical. Another example is the number 6 in China on behalf of the smooth, so we all like to take things with 6. Similarly, 8 in China on behalf of the fortune, people also like this number, hope that they will have more money. So you can see the Chinese license plate or mobile phone number will choose 6 and 8 more. On the contrary, 4 this number represents death (partial tone), people usually avoid this number, for example, in some elevators, 4 will be written as 3 +.

elisa felici ha detto...

Religion is probably the most symbolic cultural phenomenon and practice mankind has ever conceived. And due to its huge symbolic value, it is hard not to think about religion as a real separate thing from culture, it is hard not to link the birth of a belief to a determined cultural framework.
A plurality of gestures, words, colors that once brought together come to embody the worship of something, most commonly someone. It’s pervasive: within a certain religious belief the very movement of one hand, probably meaningless taken outside of its context, can represent the whole transcendency of human beings.
Here the sign of the cross, or blessing oneself, it’s a symbolic christian gesture which consists of tracing an invisible cross either on own body, forehead, heart and shoulders or in the air towards others. It is the perfect example of a physical thing or gesture which has two sides of interpretation. Objectively it represent nothing but a hand touching different parts of the body, the most sensitive could see the sign of a cross, but still what would it mean? It is within a cultural/religious and very peculiar perspective that such gesture takes a whole new and very important meaning: you are reproducing on yourself the fundamental sign, the cross, of a whole belief, you invest yourself with the divine. Plus it is interesting to realise that this gesture is made only inside churches; it is really there that this movement is invested with its significance, not anywhere else.
Its meaning is clearly understandable within a defined context. Taken outside from it it would not have the same meaning, if even present, and its notion could also count nothing in other perspectives, others religions. We enrich such a gesture with deep meaning through the usage we make of it. We reproduce, recognise and transmit it. In making the sign of the cross the physical gesture holds some links with its significance, tracing of the shape of a cross in the air echoing the traditional shape of the cross. But any real/human movement could ever succeed to express the universal meaning of which it is entrusted: god descends on me, human transcendence.

Arianna Patrizi ha detto...

Thinking about different connections between significant and signified depending on cultures, an example that in my opinion perfectly describes this concept are the existing superstitions linked to numbers, which totally differ from country to country.
For instance, in countries of greek-latin origins, especially in Italy, the number 17 and the day Friday 17, had always been linked to bad luck and misfortune, basically for Catholic religion’s beliefs and pythagorean number’s theories..
Instead in anglo-saxon countries, the “unfortunate” number is the 13 and the belief is so strong that, people in America try to avoid living in a house with 13 as building number.
For what concerns the chinese culture we find a total different credence.
Indeed, the superstition in China is linked to the number 4 and all the numbers that end with it (like 14,24), because of the affinity between the sound of the number 4 and the sound of the word “death” in chinese language.
These three superstitions that i mentioned above, are strictly related to and rooted in their specific belonging culture and they totally lose their sense if separated from them.
Basically, they are a clear and perfect demonstration of the arbitrariness of signs and its dependence on culture.

Federica Barbera ha detto...

To tell the truth, I have to say that the latter concept of sign and culture web has confused me a lot. According to me the sign has always been a conventional gesture or object that indicates a common meaning which is usually shared among individuals of the same culture. Since my task for this entry is to find another ochobo-like thing, I tried to focused on abstract concept and on sign that concretely affect our daily life in terms of behavior and economy. Bearing this in mind what it has come to my mind is the observance of the day off from work in different cultures according to religious believes. For Christianity based societies( like some western ones) the determined day off is Sunday. This day is strictly related to the Christian traditions that consider this day as a sacred one that should be dedicated only to God. If we analyze deeper the concept we notice that there are many implications due to it. Commercial and economical activities, such as shops or even the Stock Exchange, are closed in order to observe the weekly day off. In the past this creates a situation, which is considered completely unacceptable now, in which all the shops were closed and you could not even buy some food at the grocery’s. Today the situation has changed a lot but people ,who maybe have not a particular Christian religious creed or are atheist , pretend to have the day off on Sunday and if the work on that day or in other religious holiday( such as Christmas, Easter, 1st November, 8th December ecc.) expect to be paid more than in other days because in their cultural setting there are still wasting their rest time. The situation can become more and more complicated if we think about other religious beliefs and cultures. It is enough to think about the other two monotheistic religions. In the Islamic culture the day off is observed on Fridays while in the Jewish one people are supposed not to work during the Shabbat namely on Saturdays.

Ilaria Miligi ha detto...

Intersubjectivity is truly powerful, it can change radically the meaning of a symbol. We noticed the importance of ‘ochobo’, this was an outcome of the cultural creativity which attributes meanings to a sign, but these meanings (the non elegance of women eating big burgers), are arbitrary and not consistent with the physical aspect of such things.
Racism: Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.
This is one of the definitions from Oxford Dictionary. Sometimes people attribute meanings or characteristics to people different from them, without any connection with the physical character.
How many people, in this globalized world, still think that if a person has a different color is a bad person, or a thief, or someone ready to kill you? All these connections and the intersubjective attributed ‘meaning’, an outcome of culture, superstition, prejudices, prevent us from being free and objective, and sometimes we continue to live chained to the social convictions, eventually wrong and irrational.
Creativity and imagination are very rare and precious qualities, but when they take the wrong direction, they could bring to prejudices and discrimination.

Sara Massimi ha detto...

Arrive to an Ochobo-like thing in my culture has been difficult, I have wandered with my mind in all directions of the Italian Peninsula, I arrived until Genova in which I participated to a youth exchange program with the organization in which I volunteer, and there I try to recall all the various cultural habits we have taught to our friends and that they have taught to us. I think that in reality the main Ochobo-like thing that we as Italian have is hand gestures, we can be at the 2 corners of a room and just with maybe 2 gestures we can communicate even some difficult concepts, the same thing was explained to us from one friend from Cote d’Ivoire, that taught us how to convey some messages just with using our vocal chords but with the close mouth, thing mostly used between mama and his child. Nonetheless, today I would like to talk about a term born in the sub-culture especially of the TV series-fans and of everyone that is consider to be from the Geek Culture in some ways. I actually don’t like those kinds of sub-classifications of groups, however I needed to use it to convey that it is a word that is not understood neither in the same country nor form the same group of people. Firstly, this word has a generational gap, i.e. my parents will never understand it; secondly, within the same generation it has another kind of barrier from those group of people that have different interests from that one that the sub-cultural group has. So, after this long chapeau, the verb in this case is “shippare”, coming from the English language that now a day is so common between the younger, and readapted to the Italian one. the verb and noun have the same meaning in different country because it is coming from the same sub-culture, nonetheless it is not related to nothing material, indeed it has nothing to do with a boat and all what is related with it. In the sub-culture itself, you don’t have a physical referent for this word because for you it means “to support or endorse a romantic paring that is not canon in the work(s) in which they appear. The shipping of couples is often the purpose of many fanfiction stories. Used for characters in anime, manga, video games, tv shows, etc.”. A common example, is in the Harry Potter Saga, you will say that you ship so much Harry and Hermione, and this means that even though it will not ever be real you thing that in reality they have to be together. Now a day is also used to say of 2 friends that in your mind should have a love affair. (to know more about it: the Urban dictionary: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Ship )

Sara Marcucci ha detto...

Talking about different connections between significant and signified, according to different cultures, and thinking about a Ochobo-like thing, the first thing that came up to my mind is the dream catcher.
In the Western world, if you show a bunch of people the so called "dream catcher", asking them what it is, they will most likely tell you it is something you can hang above your bed, if you want to make bad dreams go away. Indeed, western people believe that the bad dreams will be caught and trapped by the interwoven threads.
The dream catcher, though, has a long history. A history that most westerns do not know, and that goes back to the indigenous who lived in North America that considered it a sacred object. These populations used to put the object out of their tent, in order to let people know what their occupation was.
Indeed, every dream catcher was different from the other in the number and color of feathers, beads, or in the inter wining of threads.
So, passers-by could understand right away what the tent's owner did as a job, by looking at the sacred object.
As time passed, though, the object arrived also in the Western world, where its meaning completely changed and it became what we all know as the "dream catcher", aimed at making you sleep well, or even at simply making your bedroom look prettier.
The same object has two completely different meanings, depending on the interpretation of two completely different cultures.

Melani Perera ha detto...

When I think about something like an ochobo, suddenly came to my mind the style of conversation in different cultures and how others feel about it. First of all, I would like to talk about Sri Lanka. Speaking of language style and language in Sri Lanka, we speak in lesser tones. It's a habit to talk slowly when talking to someone else. And when we speak angrily, we are very quick and shouting. Therefore, we can clearly understand the difference between normal speaking and angry speech. But when I arrived to Italy, I was able to see a change in language in here. That is, they are often talking very fast and shouting. I was not able to identify this change early. Hence, in my early days, I thought that they were fighting when they were speeding and shouting. I also met many more foreigners in this country, and I did not forget to study their tones also. The other thing is when Italian people talk, they are mostly use their hands and also facial expressions. It's like body language. However, it can do so by the male in Sri Lanka, but for women, body language is counted as an indecent behavior. So, I think the way of language is something like ochobo, it's different from culture to culture also the way people think about it also different from each other.

Sara di fabio ha detto...

An ochobo-like thing can be the image of the sacred cows coming from the Hinduism. The cow veneration comes from the Vedic era when there was the aim of non-violence towards all bipeds and quadrupeds. Moreover, some scriptures describe deities in the form of cows. With Gandhi the cow assumes even another meaning, indeed he said: "I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world", and stated that "The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection."
The importance of cows within the Hinduism has nothing to do with the cow per se but with the meaning the religion and culture attribute to it. This appears even more clear in comparison with other countries and religion. For instance, in western countries cows are considered as food, both for their meat and the milk they produce. Thus, the meaning of the cow is strictly related to what it represents (deities and non-violence) rather than the animal itself.

Giorgia Morucci ha detto...

an ochobo-like Italian cultural aspect that comes to my mind, is the "FUITINA", an ancient tradition which could be found especially in the Southern part of Italy, and which is not particularly used anymore. Indeed, the word belongs to the sicilian dialect, which literally means "small escape", and refers to a "love escape". How did it work and what did it entail? two lovers escape, in order to oblige their respective families to accept their marriage. To be more precise, in the past HONOR was one of the most important values of a family, because it meant that the family was a respectable one. if the lovers' parents would not agree to their union, the young couple would escape. by escaping, not only the honor of the family would be compromised but also the honor of the young lady, as no other man would ever want a "consumed" lady. therefore, to solve this shameful situation, the parents would have to agree to the marriage.
nowadays this custom has disappeared almost entirely, because young ladies and boys are free to choose their "significant other" and whether or not to marry, without having to receive the approval of their families.

Sonia Matera ha detto...

Q1

Even though I recognise that we are surrounded by millions of ochobo-like things, it was very hard to pick one.
I would like to analyse the meaning of “elegance” in the Occident. Elegance is neither an object nor a person and it is very hard to describe it to someone. Exactly as the Professor said: Its meaning must be found in the usage of it. It’s a sum of factors, of elements.
There are people who are always elegant, even if they are wearing very casual dresses and others who cannot be considered elegant even if they are wearing beautiful dresses and jewellery. Everything depends on the way people move or talk.
As I said, it is very difficult to describe and it depends from situation to situation.

Lucia von Borries ha detto...

This class reminded me of a phenomenon I observed while living in Chiang Mai. In Thailand, as in multiple other Asian countries, fare skin still today is a beauty standard related to wealth and higher social classes. If you are light skinned it means you can spend your time indoors and don’t have to work one of the many low paying jobs in the tropical heat. When going to the drug-store I could hardly find any lotions without components that supposedly whiten your skin which in the beginning was very foreign to me. One of my Korean friends once asked me why I am so white, which seems more offensive in our western culture where having a tan is the preferred beauty standard, because it implies you can go on vacations and spend your time lying in the sun. Growing up I often heard comments about how light my skin is and that I can’t get a tan, whether they were intended to be mean or whether it was plain curiosity there was always attention drawn to it. I only realized later that my friend was being envious rather than trying to be offensive. Also despite the hot climate all of the construction workers and gardeners wear long-sleeves and hats, scarfs to cover their faces and gloves. The idea is to expose as little skin to the sun as possible which is probably one of the reasons why so many Thais wear socks and flip-flops.

Grace Mageka ha detto...

Female Circumcision in my knowledge, it is like my Ochobo thing. In most part of Africa, female circumcision is seeing as a rite of passage from childhood to woman hood ready to get married off among others beliefs that I cannot mention here. While the people against the act of female genital mutilation see it as a human rights violation because for them they do not see the link between woman hood and removal of a part from a person. These rite of passage is very common in Africa as much as people have come out strongly to condemn it. This has forced the human rights organizations and activists to offer an alternative to this retrogressive and outdated practice to locals and shifting their mindset from the culture.

JINGYUAN LI ha detto...

In my culture, one of the “ochobo-like” thing should be offering seats for the elder people on the bus. It’s a social behavior that almost everyone is concerned in China. It’s not hard to find that on the bus once an elder person gets on, the others will offer their seats to the elder immediately, and the elder will usually appreciate it with grateful words . For me it’s always like a social morality that I took it for granted as I was born and I accept it as it exists. However the moment when I realized that it actually a Chinese cultural notion was in the first week when I came to Italy. The first city that I stayed in Italy was Florence, one day I took bus and was quite lucky to get a spot, when the bus arrived the next stop, here got on an old lady, according to my habit, I offered my seat to her. But to my surprise, she refused it and also looked at me very surprisingly, like she was saying: “What do you mean by offering me your seat?” At that moment I felt the cultural difference. After that I was wondering if it’s a particular case of refusing “my kindness”, so I tried again another time when I took bus when I saw a old man getting on and approaching to me, happily that old man accepted my seat offering by saying thanks, but I could still feel his inexplicable expression in his eyes. Then I stopped my behavior like this and started to observing and found out that “offering the seat to the elder ” is not a common thing in Italy, I seldom see a young person gives his seat to the elder, at most I saw some elder people gave their seats to little child on the metro.
In my opinion, the reason why offering seats in China so common is because in our culture, the elder people are higher respected and are treated as gently as possible to show respect. Thus it’s a social morality habit in China. This notion can be regarded as a tradition of harmony between elder and the younger people.

alice occhilupo ha detto...

When I was listening to Ochobo explanation actually my mind focused more on how marketing need to be shaped in a globalized world. The process of "homogenization"doesn't occur completely, it needs to respect diversity, and is not something which happens in a voluntary way, but it is necessary, it is like a "natural selection" of a product. If you bring a cheeseburger in Japan, women won't eat it in public, only if you shape it (adding a piece of the paper which wrap up the cheeseburger, which will cover their mouth while eating it) you can sell it. If you don't adapt you are out the local market. For example, if you open a shop in Utah, of clothes such as taine tops, shorts, mini-skirts, and all things that will not cover you enough, no one will buy anything, because of their religion. Mormons, once they are married they wear sacred garments under their clothes, which cannot be visible to other peoples eyes, only your husband/wife can see it, so the clothes must be long enough, or large enough to cover the sacred garments. So marketing, and more in general any process which deals with globalization need to follow a "G-LOCAL" point of view, why? because a product, an object or a gesture or whatever, can mean different things in different part of the world, since each culture gives its own symbolic meaning to that object, ritual, gesture, product, food.

matteo sarcinella ha detto...

"Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun." Clifford Geertz stress the importance that the role of the interpretation of signs has and as well punctualize the enormous relevance of the connection between significant and signified wich is established by culture. In addition to that plays a key role the inconsciousness of human beings that are unaware of this process. An example could be the Ochobo that was a phenomena invisible to japanese population because was inherit in their culture roots and hard to identify.I did this preamble in order to affirm that it will be much easier for me to analyze an "ochobo" case in a different part of the world rather than my country bucause I might be blind to most of them.
I'd like to analyze the role that the Wind rose simbole had in the 40's in Russia. Wind Rose before 30's was a simbol acknowledged in all the world as good auspice as it's function was to guide sailors through the difficulties helping them to undertens the winds. Straight after WW2 Gulag's workforce increased about 300000 prisoners and they needed to defferentiate themselves with their castes membership
one of the most feared families of criminal chose the wind rose as their representative symbol and started to mark the skin of all his members. The wind rose tattoos became in 50's one of the most common criminal tattoos in Russia strichtly connected and associates to the mafia world. And even if in the 80's criminal tattoos losts their popularity still nowadays windrose is not seen anymore as a sailing tool in order to understand winds but as a criminal symbol.
I've experienced that personally in 2015 when I made a trip in Saint Petersburg to visit a friend of mine that told me to don't wear short trousers in order to hide the wind rose tattoo that I have because it could have created problems.
The meaning of windrose that we have in Russia is way different than the common usage the other part of the world do.

Alessandro Germani ha detto...

An ochobo-like thing that I can identify in my culture is a typical Italian hand gesture which is getting famous on the Internet through social media and memes. The fingertips of the hand are brought together, upright and then the hand is waved up and down repeatedly. This sign has no concrete referent and its meaning must be identified in order to understand its use, which is not rare for Italian people. It is “what are you saying?" or "what do you want?".

Mohammad Almulla ha detto...

A simple gesture can make a huge meaning and that is obvious in middle eastern culture as many westerners come to find out when they visit the middle east. having come for that culture I know a few gestures that westerners find odd or don't understand the meaning, in the beginning, one of the funniest one is a gesture for "on my head" which in middle eastern culture means that you respect the person that is in front of you so much that you are willing to carry them on your head the entire way. Another one is simply raising your hand as a way to show that you apologize, or even when someone asks you if you want to have something to eat or drink and move your hands towards your chest to show respect and that you are thankful for the offer. Another ochobo that we have is that in our society when you go to a family meeting or you are visiting people usually the elederly talk and you just sit and listen to what they have to say and usually you dont speek until you are engaged by someone who is sitting there and this is something that we are taught since a very young age, but still keeping in mind that does not mean you are not allowed to voice your opinion but there is a time for you and a time to hear what the elderly who should be wiser and more experienced have to say.

Badriyya Soltanli ha detto...

My example would possibly be much stronger than the Ochobo case, however as most of the Shia Muslism experience at least once in their life time, I have also seen something very much terrifying from human kind side towards themselves. While celebrating the religious festival of Ashura, some Shia men flagellate themselves to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. Ashura is very important among the Muslims. Even if I have not grown up in a religious family, however it is a part of the culture, so most of us are a huge part of Ashura day. But the day is a major part of the religious calendar for Shia Muslims, for whom it is a solemn occasion to mourn the death of Hussein in 680 AD at Karbala in modern-day Iraq.Though the self-flagellation aspect of events marking the day has become best-known, observing Muslims also conduct reenactments of the martyrdom of Hussein and take part in parades and displays of fire-spinning. Of course, if one has not seen anything like this in his or her life would get shocked, because they are hurting themselves for the martyrdom of an Imam. The thing that had happened very very long ago, why would they still do it? That is the question of my all childhood while being forced to go to the mosque every year with the crowd, watching them self-flagellating and even now. It is so normal for most of the people that they do not even question.

Lavinia D'achille ha detto...

Thinking about an “ochobo” like thing what comes to my mind is my experience in China.
While I was completely immersed in oriental culture I had the possibility to make some comparisons between my country and Chinese culture. What surprised me the most now thinking about an ochobo like thing is the fact that there are many ones in both cultures. Let’s take the example of numbers linked to superstitious meanings. in Italy,for instance, in popular culture there are some numbers that are directly connected to bad luck,as the case of 17; while in other countries (anglo saxon countries) there is the general belief that the number which takes misfortune is 13.
But coming back to my experience in China,what I noticed is the importance given to them in popular culture,as the case of the hated number 4 and every number which contains it. In many building's elevators or in hotels there is no trace of number 4,also for telephone numbers usually those ones which contain number 4 are the cheapest ones and the reason is that no one wants them because of the bad luck 4 could take and all these superstitions lay their roots on the fact that the number 4 in China has the same sound of “death” which is in chinese “sì”.

Carlotta Frasca ha detto...


An “ ochobo”related example I could think of would be the idea of beauty in the Chinese culture. As I recently read a book wild swans: three daughters of China by Jung Chan, she talks about something that belongs culturally to those three generation and it is the idea of the size of feet. As the writer states and describes in a very detailed manner the feet binding was the custom of applying tight binding to the feet of young girls to modify the shape of the foot. Foot binding became popular as a means of displaying status (women from wealthy families, who did not need their feet to work, could afford to have them bound) and was correspondingly adopted as a symbol of beauty in Chinese culture. Foot binding limited the mobility of women, resulting in them walking in a swaying unsteady gait, although some women with bound feet working outdoor had also been reported. The prevalence and practice of foot binding varied in different parts of the country.
To me it's crazy to think that in order to feel beautiful they put themselves into those unconfortable situations, and there is not even a real reason rather it has been passed through out the years, and it's now just a custom.

ALICE97 ha detto...

An example of an Ochobo-like thing that comes to my mind is about the color of the bride dresses in the different cultures. Here in Italy like in many other western countries, you would never (at least not normally) see a bride wearing a dress of a color different from white (even though it is a quite recent developed tradition as during the Middle Age brides, especially those pertaining to higher classes, would wear dresses of the most colorful fabric as they were representing their own family prosperity).
In China, on the contrary, as in other Asian countries, bridal dresses are often in red, being a sign of good luck for the couple.

Chiara Muzi ha detto...

An Ochobo-like thing can be the rite of marriage. Whether it is a religious ceremony or a civic rite it is composed of a set of signs that have no material dimension, but acquire a meaning only if connected with the other parts of the web of signs in which we are imprisoned. In a marriage, through a number of precise gestures and formulas two people are united for their lives: from an objective/physical point of view they have not changed in that span of time; but from a social/legal (and religious) point of view their status is completely transformed. When the couple exchanges the rings a connection between signifier (the rings and the action of exchanging them) and signified (“belonging one to another”) sets in motion and it is defined by culture: in many cultures there is no exchange of rings, but the hands are fastened together by a piece of cloth, but both actions are connected with the idea of two lives merging together.

Iva Budakova ha detto...

A similar example to the Ochobo one which can be interpreted in different cultures in a different way is really hard to find in the Bulgarian culture. But I have understood from my friend who lives in USA that we have different explanation and different way of expressing the words “Yes” and “No”. I know that this might be a stupid example and it is something that most people would find ridiculous. I actually thought the same, from the first second when my friend explained me because in the US, they are doing these gestures exactly in the opposite way. I think this is exactly the point. Nobody could ever think of looking at those expressions but they exist. I didn’t even notice that we Bulgarians answer with “Yes” moving our heard right and left and answering with “No” moving our hear up and down. I know that probably some of you will try and see how they how you react in your own culture. Even while I was writing this blog I accidently did it but we can’t control it because its intuition. I wanted to share this because I think cultural differences doesn’t mean only what you wear or what you eat but also how you react and how you interpretive not only mentally but fiscally as well. Focusing on this example we can understand that we can be creative only by one word and only by one word we can show how signs have not only meaning but also a signifier.

Marianna Sabatini ha detto...

An Ochobo-like thing in Italian culture may be Valentine's Day. This holiday has a very old tradition and it is celebrated differently in every culture and not everywhere. In Italy it is celebrated on the 14th of February and people usually buy flowers and chocolate for their lovers, while in the US for example people on Valentine's Day celebrate also friendship and family. I think that it can be considered an Ochobo-like thing because we all feel affected by Valentine's Day, whether we are in a relationship or not.

Elsa Maria Festa ha detto...

Certain objects, or better certain signs, are the clear symbols of a cultural habit that can be understood only by investigating the union of its signifier and signified. There are objects that instantly recall something else, they mean something, they represent something that goes beyond its physical being, this is due to the shared usage that people create. The connection of the signifier and the signified shows clearly the symbolic aspect of culture, for instance, in our society, when two adults meet it is not uncommon to notice if someone is wearing a ring or not. In the moment you look at the hand of an adult you can learn a lot about that person, there is no need to talk, from a ring you can instantly know a lot about the private sphere of the person that is in front of you. Offering and accepting a small round piece of gold incarnates in the common view a clear manifestation of reciprocal love. We take for granted the significance of the wedding ring: when we see it there is no need to think about its meaning, it is culturally obvious that that specific object means marriage. However this obvious observation could be not so obvious in other societies in which that physical thing could mean nothing, certain people might not know the meaning of the ring and at that point for them it is just a physical thing, a piece of gold or silver. The web of significance of a single ring is full of connections: the consequence of donating a ring to the person you love is clear: it means you want to marry that person. And what does marriage means? It is a prove of faith and eternal loyalty, the decision of spending the rest of your life with the person you exchange the ring with. The culture of marriage symbols has different roots according to the country, in the western world the tradition and meaning of wedding rings is deeply connected to Christianity. In Ireland, for example, the Celtic trinity band is often used as a wedding ring or engagement ring. The Ancient Celts used the sign of the three interwoven strands as a symbol of their Christianity, these bands of faith are the emblem of eternity and everlasting commitment.

Rossella rao ha detto...

Q1. Identify and analyze an ochobo like thing.
After thinking thoroughly of what could be similar to an ochobo in Ethiopian culture, I decided to talk about what we call “gursha” in Amharic. In Ethiopia, food is always shared and typically eaten from a large plate with no use of forks and knifes. We eat with our hands! Eating from a shared plate with other people, deeply signifies the importance that Ethiopians give to sharing. Even strangers will be invited with a simple “Enebla”; let’s eat! However it doesn’t stop here: feeding other people by hand is an Ethiopian exclusivity. In fact, “gursha” means: mouthful, gratuity, and it takes the intimacy of a shared meal a step further. To explain it in simple words, “gursha”, is basically when a person gives you a large bite of food with his or her own hand. Many meanings could be attached to this practice that is hard to explain it in any language. Forcing myself to elaborate a definition, what I could think of is only words that can project the feeling and the meaning of the gesture. “Gursha” can be: caring, sharing, hospitality, intimacy, receiving or giving a honor, showing respect, showing abundance, being selfless, it’s the final breakdown of the notion of personal space. Giving or receiving a “gursha” has its own set of rules! As if it was not complicated enough.. the trick is to take it without letting your mouth in to contact with the persons fingers and without letting it fall as the bite will be quite large. The person you’ve honored with a “gursha” will return the favor as a sign of respect, reciprocity and gratitude. Another rule relies upon how frequently a gursha should be given: there is a saying that many people believe in, which is “ one gursha makes enemies, two keeps us apart and three keeps us closer”. So in brief, it always repeats. A final remark I want to make on the importance of the meaning of this gesture, is that it is considered very rude, impolite and even offensive to refuse a gursha sue to its heavy symbolic meaning it carries.

Md Ashique Ali ha detto...

If I think Ochobo like symbolic cultural identity in India, it gets me stuck. India and its diverse cultural societies and its great religious followers as Hinduism, Islam, Sikh, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and others, their identical symbols always look differ with religions and geographical basis. I try to find some Ochobo like cultural symbols, those give a whole Indian cultural phenomenon.

If I talk about Indian men and their mustache and beard, it has countless types, signs and reasons to have them as religious and cultural faith or regional identity. Mustache is common in various parts of India, it has sign “to be brave” “to get manhood” and “to be religious, usually they use to have it after marriages, mostly men from rural areas do this, the urbans don’t follow strictly, the mustache styles may give a face of specific area, social group, religion or culture, and about beard, mostly Indian don’t like to have it but I am quite sure, India is the vastest country in the world with its men with beard. Its bear sings of, old fashion, carelessness, and a religious person. Its styles also show various meaning, identity, and cultures. The reason to have it, could be culture, aged, fashion or religion. The Sikh, followers of Sikhism and generally from Punjab region, they believe not cut hear of whole part of the body since childhood till death (it’s a religious believe, so depends on person), we may imagine their mustache and beard and size, but they care it very handsomely, even their turban is very famous in Western countries.

Riccardo Poggioli ha detto...

The ochobo is a peculiar cultural feature of the Asian culture, and as the professor explained during the lecture a great example for ochobo is the way in which Japanese women are “obliged” to eat a burger. In fact I found an interesting article whose aim is to give a solution for this problem to Japanese women. The trend known as “ochobo” having a “small and modest mouth” has caught on to the point where it’s considered rude for women to open their mouths wide in public. So when Japanese restaurant chain Freshness Burger noticed a gender discrepancy in the sales of their large Classic Burger, they chalked it up to their female customers’ adherence to cultural norms. Enter the so called “liberation wrapper” designed by advertising company Ad Dentsu. Featuring a photograph of a closed-mouthed woman on the front, the wrapper covers a woman’s face, thus “freeing” her to eat her burger without fear of anyone seeing her open mouth. It could sound strange but Freshness Burger reported that sales of their large Classic Burger to women have increased by 213% since introducing the new wrapper. From my personal point of view an ochobo thing that come in my mind is the way in which Italians consider some objects as lucky charm. In this situation it’s relevant the distinction between signifier and signified .Referential theory could help us since lucky charm are a great example of that since it’s important the way in which we perceive these objects, the contextualization. My example is related to the figure of the pepper as key chain, which is considered as lucky charm especially in the southern part of Italy, in particular in the city of Naples. The sign obviously is the pepper, which has different interpretations for the signifier and the signified. In this case the signifier can be interpreted as something used in the kitchen to give a spicy taste to the dishes, meanwhile the signified for someone, as I write before, brings luck to the owner.

Uroš Ilić ha detto...

I struggled greatly to pinpoint a sign which can be related to on a global scale but I do thing a found an interesting one. Modern day hip hop culture has in recent years produced a catchy (often very annoying due to its overuse) move with an array of meanings. I am speaking of “the dab”. The move consists of an individual dropping their head into the elbow area of one bent hand while keeping the other arm slightly raised above the shoulder and straight. The move itself originated somewhere in Atlanta which has in recent years been the epicenter of the new wave of hip hop. Hip hop culture has always been closely linked to the marihuana smoking culture. The original dab would be a concentrated amount of THC which would inevitably make its smoker cough (hence the head into the elbow area). The move has since spread throughout all continents and classes. Famous athletes have been known to use it as a sign of celebration after scoring a goal, touchdown, three pointers etc. This use of the dab has been taken by youth everywhere. Any physical feat or passing your test for example can be accompanied with a dab. The move can also be used in sarcastic terms. For example, if your friend does or says something stupid you can dab on him, indicating that he has clearly consumed a high amount of concentrated THC. In recent times, the dab has become so annoying that its use now is mostly humoristic. The wide spread acceptance of the dab can be linked to three things: 1. The growing popularity of hip-hop as the new pop. 2.The technological interconnectivity advances (internet etc) 3. The simplicity of the move itself. Much like Ochobo, we can’t specifically define what the dab is. It is up to the individual to decide whether something is appropriate for a dab or not. The lines are blurred. The phenomenon spread far and wide but rare are the people who possess a thick description of it. I guess the cultural element which cannot be defined is here on a generational level rather than national.

Giorgio Severi ha detto...

Thinking about an ochobo like thing, came to my mind a particular feature of Indian culture which at first sight seemed to me lacking a concrete dimension but indeed deepening the issue, contextualizing and connecting it to the web of signs has a solid meaning.
In india cows are sacred and in Hindi are called Gaumata, the mum who feed, because it is believied in Hinduism that ideally this animal with its milk feeds the entire world. This veneration derives from one of the most important sacred books of hinduism and apparently could seem a fairy, a belief without concrete consequences.
On the contrary the Indian constitution protects the animal forbidding the butchery and the selling of the meat, with fines and imprisonment. The ruling nationalist Hindu government moreover supports and strenghtens this veneration and consequently the sanctions.
This therefore affects incredibly the whole society on the socio-economic and also political field.
Indeed this is an intersubjective sign, where the subjective belief tipical of fairies has a direct impact and strong corrispondence in the objective reality because of the shared common use of that culture.

Shahmar Hasanov ha detto...

As Wittgenstein was saying, the words have different meanings in our understanding. Consequently, it’s not an easy task to find the common language for the whole planet, considering how the countries, societies and cultures are different, based on the regional location, historical circumstances and economic development.
I want to give two examples, one from Netherlands and another from Hawaii. The things I’m going to describe might slightly differ from “ochobo” notion, but still are the crystal-clear ideas that will help us to understand how the different words get the various meaning, or how the things gather several words.
In Netherlands, having the rainy weather is extremely often, and because of this there are more than 50 words to describe that climatic occurrence. For the Dutch people, it is usual to talk about the weather and giving too many descriptions and names to the raining seems quite logical.
Talking about the second example, I want to highlight the fact that in Hawaii there are 65 words alone for describing fishing nets, 108 for sweet potato, 42 for sugarcanes and 47 for bananas. These numbers precisely show the importance of the mentioned products in the daily life of Hawaiian people.
Philosophically, the words have the meaning when we give them any meaning, I assume.
In the end, I want also to emphasize one phenomena from my country, where the words have gotten even more power. In the sense that insulting one’s person family or relative is considered to be the extreme way and might result disastrous consequences.



RIAS UDDIN ha detto...

I could mention the approach in the relationship that in some part is mandatory other parts are not. It comes to one's mind who is mistaken.
In America, there is no rigid social hierarchy that demands any specific kind of relationships. Calling people older than you by their first name is well-accepted and in many cases, even expected. There is great fluidity between relationships in the American culture, where all kinds of interaction are relaxed and encouraged. In case of familial relationships, parents are actively involved in their child's upbringing, but it isn't expected that children take care of their parents in their old age. Independence is valued and encouraged. Within friends, it is not expected that favors need to be especially appreciated or specifically returned. The concept of relationships is in itself very relaxed in the American culture.

In China, there exists a social structure that inevitably results in a rigid social hierarchy. Elders are not expected to be called by their first names by those younger to them, and titles or other specified terms are to be used when addressing older people. The Chinese culture is very relationship-oriented, and people tend to value relationships more. Once they are established, great care is taken to maintain them. In familial relationships, children are expected to take care of their aging parents. In friendly relations too, if someone bestows a favor upon you, you are expected to return it as well as fully appreciate it. The Chinese culture fiercely values all sorts of relationships.