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Forum LockedIs Latin America Western?

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Poll Question: Is Latin America Western?
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28 [51.85%]
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4 [7.41%]
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1 [1.85%]
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16 [29.63%]
5 [9.26%]
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Is Latin America Western?
    Posted: 24-Mar-2007 at 19:48
Is Latin America part of the Western World?
 
In here we know that's correct. However, in certain anglo saxon circles, people tend to push away Latin America from the picture, perhaps ashamed that the region is not as rich as Europe, Australia or North America.
 
But the hidden truth is that Latin America is excluded because most of its people has at least a drop of Native blood. So, it is not considered "at the same level" of "pure" Europe or North America or Australia.
 
The following is the best article I have seen about the topic, writen by a smart woman that visited Colombia, and found it surprisingly familiar.
 
 Is Latin America Western?

Sunday, April 22th, 2001

 
While surfing the Net recently, I came across a website that posed an interesting question: is Latin America Western or non-Western? Though the site did not give a definite “yes” or “no” to the question, it discussed some of the reasons why people might or might not consider Latin America part of the West.

The term “West” is somewhat ambiguous these days. “West” and “Western” seem to have joined the ranks of words like “Creole,” “humanist,” and “liberal,” whose meaning varies according to where, when and by whom they are being pronounced. Most people would agree that Canada, the United States, Australia, and Western Europe are clearly part of the West. But they might disagree on where to place East Germany, for instance, which until the fall of the Berlin Wall belonged to the Communist Eastern bloc but which has strong linguistic, historical and cultural ties to Western Europe. Latin America’s status as part of the so-called Occident is also shaky. On one hand, a writer for Canada’s National Post Magazine referred to Colombia as the “most dangerous country in the West.” An Ecuadorian friend similarly tells me that of course his country is Western; after all, it was colonized by Europeans long before many areas of the United States were. Others, though, would hesitate to include Latin America in the Western fold. Some leftists, seeking to create a sense of Third World solidarity, lump the region together with Africa, Asia and the Middle East rather than with Europe and North America. Ironically, many right-wingers too would place Latin America outside the Western pale for the same reasons, even if not for the same purpose, not only because the region is not industrialized but because the majority of its inhabitants are not “white” (that is, of unmixed European descent).

My answer to the website’s question is that yes, Latin America is Western. Saying that Latin Americans are not Westerners is, to my mind, a bit like saying that cats are not mammals. In other words, what else could they be? Just as cats possess all the physical features of mammals (hair, the ability to produce milk for their young, and so on), Latin American culture is largely based on that of Western Europe, more specifically Spain’s and, in the case of Brazil, Portugal’s.

The first objection to classifying the Latin American countries as Western is that they are not industrialized, at least not to the same degree as those of Europe and North America are. But industrialization is not the exclusive domain of the West. Japan is one of the most industrialized nations in the world, yet it certainly is not Western. The far less technologically developed Philippines is, due to its three hundred years under Spanish control, far more Westernized than Japan. While the wish to promote solidarity between Latin America and other Third World areas is commendable, those who do so sometimes forget (or prefer to ignore) that culturally — even if not politically or technologically - the former resembles Europe more than it does Asia or Africa, for example.

Another reason often cited for not including Latin America in the West stems from the fact that most of its people are not “white.” However, a “white” population does not a Western country make. Eastern Europe nations such as Lithuania and Estonia, for example, are almost entirely “white,” but they have never been considered part of the Occident, least of all by Lithuanians and Estonians themselves. Others might argue that large portions of Latin America, such as Bolivia and Guatemala, are inhabited by people with no European ancestry whatsoever. But the same thing could be said of Canada, where in the most northerly areas of the country the population is mostly Aboriginal and Inuit.

Moreover, most Latin Americans have at least some European ancestry. The populations of some nations, like Argentina, Uruguay and Costa Rica are over 80% “white,” and many others possess substantial “white” minorities (including some people with no family ties to Spain; my last “white” boyfriend, for instance, was born in Peru to a German-Northern Italian couple). Nonetheless, even setting Latin America’s “white” inhabitants aside, the average mestizo [1] or mulatto [2] has more in common with his or her European forbears than Indian and/or African ones. He or she in all likelihood

  1. speaks a European language — Spanish in most of the region and Portuguese in Brazil — as his or her mother tongue;
  2. practices a religion that while not originally from Europe, took root on that continent more widely than on any other; and
  3. leads a lifestyle similar to that of Spain, Portugal and other Latin countries.

From this standpoint, it’s hard to claim that Latin Americans are any less Western than Americans or Australians. The difference is of course that the latter two groups derive their culture from Britain whereas the former trace theirs to Spain or Portugal.

Undoubtedly Native American and African customs have influenced Latin America. And it’s understandable that countries like Mexico, which broke away forcefully from their “motherland,” Spain, are now stressing their Indian roots over their European ones. Other nations emphasize their “mestizaje” — the term for “racial mixture” in Spanish — in an attempt to recognize their dual (or in the case of places like Brazil with a strong African component, triple) heritages. But the reality is that for most mixed-race Latin Americans — who, by the way, form the majority of the area’s population — their European heritage has played a far greater role in shaping in their world views, social attitudes, and daily lives than has their non-“white” ancestry.

Indeed, the fact that miscegenation — generally involving Europeans and other “races,” though individuals of mixed African and Native American descent also exist — played such a major role in Latin American history is probably the principal reason for that region’s status as part of the West. It’s important to stress that not all Spanish and Portuguese colonies joined the ranks of the Western world. Spanish rule in the Philippines, for example, did not transform the islands into a Latin country. Though Spain did have considerable influence on the Philippines — in converting most of the people to Catholicism, in providing Spanish loan words to the local languages, and in giving the people Spanish first and/or last names — the Filipinos’ pre-colonial Asian culture remained largely intact even after three centuries of Spanish domination — roughly the same amount of time Spain controlled Latin America. Interestingly, miscegenation between Spaniards and Filipinos (or should we say Filipinas, because practically all such unions involved Spanish men and Filipina women) occurred on a fairly limited scale, as very few Spaniards settled in the islands. As historian John Phelan explains, the Philippines failed to become a Latin nation as Mexico did in part because the former lacked a mixed-race population to help Hispanicize the natives and by extension the country.

A friend from Nicaragua, a man of mixed Spanish and Native American descent who would never have passed for “white” in the United States, admitted to me that he felt “at home” on a visit to Italy because Italy is a Latin country, like Spain and Portugal. Obviously Latin America is not a carbon copy of Iberia. [3] But neither is the United States a replica of England. And just as no one would ever classify my three cats as fish, amphibians, reptiles or birds, Latin America cannot be anything but Western.

Notes

1. The term “mestizo,” though it literally means “mixed” in Spanish, in Latin America generally refers to people of mixed European and Native American ancestry.

2. A “mulatto” refers to a person of mixed European and African descent.

3. “Iberia” refers to Spain and Portugal.



Edited by pinguin - 24-Mar-2007 at 19:51
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Spartakus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Mar-2007 at 19:51

In my current opinion,it is part of the Western World.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Mar-2007 at 22:27
Funny, since I arrived in Mexico I have been thinking a lot about the same question and I tend to agree: Latin America is western.

Of course it is undeniable that there is also a significant native American component, and of course it is clearly different from Europe, but I don't feel things are completely strange to me here. Latin America is definately more western than most people (Latin Americans and westerners (other westerners) alike) would want to admit. I think the western character of Latin America become clear if you contrast it to cultures that are clearly nonwestern. I have talked with people who have been to China, and judging from their stories that is a country which is completely different, in which almost nothing western is recognizable.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 00:12
Originally posted by Mixcoatl

.... Latin America is definately more western than most people would want to admit...
 
Why they wouldn't want to admit?
 
As far as I know, some Latin Americans (Mexicans in particular) promote "indigenism" as a matter of national pride, more than anything else.
 
But why is so difficult for other "westerners" to admit the obvious?
 
Particularly when we know that large parts of Europe were only in the Middle Ages integrated to the West? For instance, all the Northern part of Europe was considered Barbarian territories during the Roman Empire, and outside the West. Other parts, like North Africa and the Middle East, have been part of the Western Civilization for a longer time, but now are excluded from it.
 
Curious, indeed. To say the least.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 01:47
Originally posted by pinguin

Originally posted by Mixcoatl

.... Latin America is definately more western than most people would want to admit...
 
Why they wouldn't want to admit?

For people from Europe and the US: because Latin America is poor, so they don't want to believe they belong to the same culture.

As for Latin Americans, I have the impression that quite a lot (though not all) people associate the west with imperialism, which is something they don't want to be associated with. They rather blame their problems (justified or not) on the 'imperialist west' than consider themselves part of it.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 02:00
Curious. In southern South America, where I live, we still remember when we received the "poor" of Europe by the million. Well, I guess they want to forget us now.
 
Fortunatelly for us, our continent today is a lot less poor than in the 40s, we have a better standard of living than in the 70s and we are quite sure in some decades we will be fine.
 
Latin Americans (Not that I share it, but is what people say) see the U.S. like an imperialistic and agresive country, and Europe like a place in decline.
 
Pinguin
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pekau Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 02:54
Wow, that's really tough question. What makes a nation Western?
     
   
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Post Options Post Options   Quote The_Jackal_God Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 03:03
i dunno, when i think of the West, i think of those countries advanced economically and politically, based on the principles of free market and the universal rights of man.

So, most of Europe, up to and including the Baltics, Poland, down south to Romania and Bulgaria, the last two being fringe members; US and Can; Japan and Korea, Aus and NZ. From Latin America, only Chile really qualifies this way for me.

politically, as a bloc, Latin America isn't there politically and economically. The thing that stands out the most isn't the difference in economies, but the concept of law isn't the same. The corruption still puts it in the same place as Africa and the Arab countries. The culture still focuses on the person, not the office. The rule of law is weak. And this is such a fundamental necessity to modern concept of democracies, and so there's a fundamental difference politically as well.

but when someone says a western country, i think in cultural terms, and sub out korea and japan, and sub in Latin America.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JuMong Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 03:06
Interesting post, but what exactly is your point?

Calling Latin America "Western" is like calling Africa "Western."  Why do people from Latin America feel a need to glum onto something they're clearly not part of? Envy?  Does it make you feel better to be part of the "West?"  Is it more civilized to be called Western than Latin?

Unfortunately, you're buying into a racist stereotype and a pejorative that hierarchic White society have set up for themselves, with them clearly on top. I say, don't buy into it.  It's like buying into the idea that Western model for standard of beauty is ideal, but how many black people can fall under that standard?

Reading that article, I clearly sensed a sad undertone of inferiority complex at work, buying into the idea that you're clearly inferior if you are not part of the "West," or profess "Western Values," whatever that is. I personally think the whole concept of "West," or "Western" rather silly. It's usually how ethnocentric Whites like to dribble out in articles after articles whenever they feel a need to feel superior or insecure when countries like China is developing at an alarming rate and passing them by.

Stuck up Brits at BBC are especially good at this when they need to denigrate China because, although China has far surpassed them economically and militarily, they still pronounce China as not Western because  it does not practice democracy, which a Brit may claim as hallmark of developed society. I'm not too sure if democracy is working all that well at this point, but that's for another topic. Anyway, look at the sense of inferiority running through  a poster called WesternCulture as India passed Japan as having more billionaire.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1797687/posts

Only thing West can do now is look to the past.Confused

Latin America is uniquely Latin American. It has it's own unique, vibrant culture in language, art, music and history, but clearly, it is not Western. If I had to define it technically, I would call it "Post Colonial," not much different from Africa. Latin America is uniquely Latin American, just as India is uniquely Indian.  It's not unnecessarily better or inferior. It is what it is.

Don't buy into this game of cultural envy.





Edited by JuMong - 25-Mar-2007 at 03:48
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 07:51
Yes, of course it is. There's not a single state in Latin America that wasn't created by Europeans, that is, Westerners, from Spain and Portugal. Let's do this point for point.

1. No, because it is American Indian.

Not anymore, all the present states and their borders were created by Europeans, and are still ruled by people of at least partly European descent.

2. No, because there are people of mixed race there.

Where isn't there people of mixed race? Certainly not in Europe, where different peoples have been migrating and interbreeding for milleniums.

3. No, because it is not as rich as Europe.

Saying that "Europe" is rich is a bit of an oversimplification. Some countries in Europe have among the highest GDPs per capita in the world, while some are poorer than most Latin American countries, like Romania, Albania or Moldova.

4. No, because they have an alien culture.

Alien? Nah, the Native culture might seem a alien to Europeans, but it's not very imposing.

5. No, because they speak Spanish and Portuguese and not English.

European languages, Western European even.

6. No, because they belong to the third world.

Well, an oversimplification again, although you could say certain Latin American countries do.

Originally posted by JuMong

Calling Latin America "Western" is like calling Africa "Western." Why do people from Latin America feel a need to glum onto something they're clearly not part of? Envy? Does it make you feel better to be part of the "West?" Is it more civilized to be called Western than Latin


If you read Latin American history, you will learn that they are indeed part of the European cultural universe in every respect. Latin culture is culture from Europe, it should be unnecessary to state that Latin and all the languages derived from it are European languages, Western European ones even. It almost seems as if you're trying to deny them their cultural heritage.

Edited by Reginmund - 25-Mar-2007 at 08:01
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 08:04
Originally posted by JuMong

Interesting post, but what exactly is your point?

Calling Latin America "Western" is like calling Africa "Western."  Why do people from Latin America feel a need to glum onto something they're clearly not part of? Envy?  Does it make you feel better to be part of the "West?"  Is it more civilized to be called Western than Latin?
 
I see you don't have a clue on the topic. Latin America is "Western" because:
 
(1) Most of the people is descendent of "Westerners" or European
(2) Speak "Western" languages.
(3) Is a branch of the culture of Spain, which is in direct link with Rome. Rome is the core of the West.
(4) Follows mainly a "Western" religion called Catholicism with is (or was) the center of Western Civilization
 
I believe it is not a matter of "envy" but of saying things like the are. In the same way the U.S. hijacked the term "America" for their own use only (all the people of the Western Hemisphere are "Americans") they also use the term "West" only for the Germanic-AngloSaxon peoples, forgetting the term "West" just mean Europe. And Western mean European descendent.
 
 
Originally posted by JuMong


Latin America is uniquely Latin American. It has it's own unique, vibrant culture in language, art, music and history, but clearly, it is not Western.
 
Latin America is not Afrocuban and Charro music. That's to entertain Japanese tourists. I don't see that is so "clearly" non Western at all.
 
Latin America languages are Iberian. Music and History are directly linked to the history of Spain, Portugal and Rome, which are CLEARLY western.
 
 
Originally posted by JuMong

 If I had to define it technically, I would call it "Post Colonial," not much different from Africa. Latin America is uniquely Latin American, just as India is uniquely Indian.  It's not unnecessarily better or inferior. It is what it is.
 
Latin America is independent since the beginning of the 19th Century, almost at the time the U.S. become independent. The "Post Colonial age" thing is something that affect Africa and Asia rather than Latin America.
 
African people are not descendents of European. East Indians are not descendents of European either. Phillipines are not decendents of European either. Those are "westernized" nations, like East Asia is in certain extend.
 
Latin America is, by large, descendent of forgotten European colones. Why Australians could be called Westerners and Argentineans or Brazilians can't?
 
 
Originally posted by JuMong


Don't buy into this game of cultural envy.
 
I am afraid you did LOL
 
Pinguin
 
 


Edited by pinguin - 25-Mar-2007 at 08:09
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Adalwolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 08:06
I would say they are western because, like Regimund said, they were founded by colonial powers, and recieved a large influx of European immigrants. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dan Carkner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 10:57
I voted it's not.  I love latin america but I see "the West" as a very specific set of rich nations that act together.

[Ed. --Although I do think that Spain and Portugal are, because they act together with Western European states.]


Edited by Dan Carkner - 25-Mar-2007 at 11:08
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Post Options Post Options   Quote The Hidden Face Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 11:13
What western institution in which the west acts together is the most important one?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2007 at 13:53
Originally posted by Dan Carkner

I voted it's not.  I love latin america but I see "the West" as a very specific set of rich nations that act together.

[Ed. --Although I do think that Spain and Portugal are, because they act together with Western European states.]
 
You are confussing Western Civilization with NATO LOL.
 
Latin America never cut its links with Spain, Portugal and Italy at all, for instance.
 
Besides, how could you expect Latin America would follow freely the desires of its northern neighbour, when it was invaded or intervened 100 times since the 19th century? Besides all the problems generated by European powers like Britain and France.
 
For acting together, you could ask yourself if Canadians follow the leader. They don't Big%20smile. And Canada is a Western country no matter perhaps one fourth of its population is East Asian.
 
We are talking about heritage in here, nothing else.
 
Pinguin
 


Edited by pinguin - 25-Mar-2007 at 13:54
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Post Options Post Options   Quote The_Jackal_God Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Mar-2007 at 01:30
Ok, Jumong


Calling Latin America "Western" is like calling Africa "Western."  Why do people from Latin America feel a need to glum onto something they're clearly not part of? Envy?  Does it make you feel better to be part of the "West?"  Is it more civilized to be called Western than Latin?
=>i am fluent in English and Spanish, languages that originated in Western Europe. With these two languages I can speak to almost everyone in the Western Hemisphere. I also play futbol, and that covers the rest. Besides language, law and religion also unite us, as we share the basic tenets. I see corruption as the biggest difference between American and Latin American politics (yes, I know in the USA it's just more institutionalized), and along with the absence of a middle class and considerable services sector, in the realm of politics and economics, my version of the West is on the giving/dictating end, and Latin America is on the receiving end, along with the other Third World countries.
__________________________________________________________
Unfortunately, you're buying into a racist stereotype and a pejorative that hierarchic White society have set up for themselves, with them clearly on top. I say, don't buy into it.  It's like buying into the idea that Western model for standard of beauty is ideal, but how many black people can fall under that standard?
=>Really? I thought I was basing this off my life experience. How do you insinuate "pejorative" and "racist" into my statement? Did you know I happen to prefer the Latino outlook on all things but traffic laws, having tasted both sides of the Rio Grande? Btw, thanks to the efforts of Martin Luther King and people like him, America is living the dream of the Enlightenment writers, and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man. Western isn't geographical, it's ideological, and that's why places like Bosnia and Albania, or more poignantly, Turkey, don't fall under the veil, even though the land of Turkey contains part of the birthplace of Western Civ.

Reading that article, I clearly sensed a sad undertone of inferiority complex at work, buying into the idea that you're clearly inferior if you are not part of the "West," or profess "Western Values," whatever that is. I personally think the whole concept of "West," or "Western" rather silly. It's usually how ethnocentric Whites like to dribble out in articles after articles whenever they feel a need to feel superior or insecure when countries like China is developing at an alarming rate and passing them by.
=>Really? Pardon me if I think you've read into it. Would you mind if I read Chinese nationalism into yours? I think I drew the distinction between culture and politics/economics clearly. Clearly, the West is the world's economic and political leaders and exercise their leadership globally. Culture is a whole different story. When you say "Western values" i'm not sure what you mean. Western society allows two polar sets of values to coexist. As a classicist, i tend to side with the traditional set, which, surprise, surprise, i share with many, many people around the world, despite all sorts of cultural differences. i embrace my values because i've examined them, and decided they were good.

Stuck up Brits at BBC are especially good at this when they need to denigrate China because, although China has far surpassed them economically and militarily, they still pronounce China as not Western because  it does not practice democracy, which a Brit may claim as hallmark of developed society. I'm not too sure if democracy is working all that well at this point, but that's for another topic. Anyway, look at the sense of inferiority running through  a poster called WesternCulture as India passed Japan as having more billionaire.
=>You got me! I do indulge in BBC news, mainly because they have a more global outlook than CNN (think Anna Nicole, Britney Spears, Naomi Campbell). If BBC pronounced China western tomorrow, nothing would change. China simply is not Western, and prolly never will be, provided no more Mao's come along. China has so much cultural richness and history, it's future depends on drawing on and building off of the good things found there. British may be a little wistful of their former glory. I don't know, I'm not British nor that poster, and neither speak for the entire Western commune.
Second, the term democracy also conveys an implied concept of constitutionality - a guarantee of certain basic individual rights; which is why certain third world countries are not considered democratic just because they go thru the ritual of voting, while they maintain censorship, don't give fair trial, and so on.

Latin America is uniquely Latin American. It has it's own unique, vibrant culture in language, art, music and history, but clearly, it is not Western. If I had to define it technically, I would call it "Post Colonial," not much different from Africa. Latin America is uniquely Latin American, just as India is uniquely Indian.  It's not unnecessarily better or inferior. It is what it is.
=>In Haiti and French Guyana, guess what they speak. And in Suriname? Latin America isn't a monolithic cultural block. Nor is Europe. Nor even is the United States. That's not what Western means. It means we all share common values, based on a common legacy (or rejection of those values).

Don't buy into this game of cultural envy.
=>can i use reason with you, or do i have to say i'm black latino who's mother is from India before you accept any endorsement of something you perceive to be white, elitist, racist?

btw, having grown up in foreign cultures outside my birthplace, my culture comes from somewhere over the Atlantic. before you accuse anyone of cultural envy again, take a good look in the mirror.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Mar-2007 at 09:51
Originally posted by pinguin

 
For acting together, you could ask yourself if Canadians follow the leader. They don't Big%20smile. And Canada is a Western country no matter perhaps one fourth of its population is East Asian.
 
We are talking about heritage in here, nothing else.
 
Pinguin
 
 
Are you serious? one fourth? That may be the case in the province of British Columbia, but really for Canada as a whole, more then 80% are of European descent, with a good number of African, native and south-American, East Indian and South-American descent.  Take a look here:
 
 
You'll see that all East Asians together comprise about 2 million out of a population of 30 million...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Mar-2007 at 10:00

In the West (Saskatchewan), East Asians were quite numerous indeed. I would bet there are lots of more East Asian than in the two million figure you have there. Anyways, that 8% or 10% of the population doesn't convert Canada in an Asian country at all. Nobody would argue that.

Then, why some people consider Latin America non-western because there is admixture with Natives, and in some regions with Africans?

That was the point
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Mar-2007 at 12:11
Yes, but the rest of the West don't agree
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Mar-2007 at 17:29
Originally posted by hugoestr

Yes, but the rest of the West don't agree
 
Well I do.  The totality of Latin America is far more impacted by:  five centuries of European imigration, the influence of Christianity, and (whether they like it or not) the impact of North America, than it is anything indigenous.
 
The Western Hemisphere is part of the West.
 
 
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