Cultural Realms

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Cultural Realms


In spite of the distances reduced to naught because of Jet age, and also mixing of people internationally by means of exchanging views in the fields of language, religion, economics and politics, there exist a number of cultural realms in our world. Likewise all important world communities residing in different geographical and historical units adhere to their cultural identity and feel enamored and proud of it.

The concept of the cultural region is new and it is distinguished by a set of cultural traits like language, beliefs, customs, norms of behavior, social institutions, way of life, artifacts etc. The complex combination of the above traits is identified in a group as cultural realm over an area.

While determining the cultural reasons we shall have to keep into our minds the historical, physical and cultural realities.

Culture of a particular realm has distinct traits and these vary from one cultural realm to another, though many cultural traits are everywhere the same. Culture of a particular realm throws light on different aspects of life that is rigidity in thinking, uniformity in life style, regimentation of thought in the spiritual and religious field. Unpragmatic attitude towards social problem, adherence to traditionalism and certain outdated customs, materialism etc. are some traits and characteristics of some cultural realms of the world. But there are certain cultural realms, which have open mindedness, flexibility towards social customs and traditions, priority for self-renunciation, generosity in religious outlook, esteem for all religious thoughts.

Urge for coexistence, concept of letting others to live and not the survival of the fittest etc. are certain distinct values of other cultural realm. It, therefore, becomes imperative on our part to demarcate the cultural boundaries in close proximity to the prevailing life styles and ways of life. It is a matter of great satisfaction that both historians and social scientists have the same approach in establishing cultural boundaries as a student of human geography has.

The emergence of cultural realms follows the diffusion of the impact of some early cultural centres over large areas. The stimulus in the geographical area evolved the cultural hearth and respective cultural system matured.

The important cultural hearths identified are as follows

Old World

  • 1. Mediterranean
  • 2. Indian
  • 3. Chinese
  • 4. African - Sudanese
  • 5. Persian
  • 6. Arabian
  • 7. Mongolian

    New World

  • 1. Meso-American
  • 2. Peruvian or Andean

    A group of people have characteristics like speaking the same kind of languages, practicing the same religion, observing similar manner and customs, engaged in similar types of work and living in similar types of community groups. In other words the same or similar cultural traits may be said to form a cultural group. This group forms a cultural region or cultural realm.

    The Characteristics of Cultural Realms are broadly of two categories

  • 1. A unique combination of cultural features should generally pervade the area to be organized as a cultural entity.
  • 2. The cultural features must be strongly different from the neighboring area for recognition and demarcation of the boundary.

    The terms cultural region implies an area of relative cultural uniformity rather than the presence of absolute uniformity. The boundaries between the cultural realms are broad transitional zones. Cultural realms are used as a technique for classifying the impact of culture upon the spatial organization of landscapes. James defined cultural realm as 'an unique segment of the earth's surface, within which there is an unique assortment of resources and habitat conditions, an unique pattern of political organization and an arrangement of people and production that is peculiar to the area'. Brock and Webb (1968) emphasized the integration of a Cultural System and the role of language and religion in sustaining cultural traits as they have been diffused from Europe and Asia.

    The Major cultural realm is as follows:

  • a. The Polar realm
  • b. The European realm
  • c. The Anglo American realm
  • d. The Latin American realm
  • e. The Dry realm
  • f. The African realm
  • g. The Oriental realm
  • h. The Australian realm
  • i. The Pacific realm
  • j. The Communist realm

    These may be broadly identified as Occidental realm covering (b), (e) and (h) from above. The Oriental realm comprises of Indian, Indo-Chinese and East Asian.

    Next: Demographic Cycle

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