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Ancient Cultural Stereotypes

Ancient cultural stereotypes are usually developed by those outside of a culture to explain what seem to be unusual behaviors, attitudes or beliefs because they do not conform to what an outsider considers normal.  Many modern stereotypes have their roots buried in the history of a people and can have a modicum of truth re-molded and misinterpreted, resulting in a Cultural Stereotypes.

Forming Ancient Cultural Stereotypes

A cultural stereotype is formed when an assumption is made about a group of people as a whole.  This assumption is then passed on until it becomes a cultural stereotype.  For example when the Spaniards came in contact with the Aztecs in their mighty cities they continued the old tradition of defamation of cultures outside their own religion. Inventions of sacrificing individuals to their gods , the depiction of a savage race with barbaric behaviors became the writings of the Inquisition. Because of a different cultural paradigm, the Spanairds considered  it abnormal.

Why were Ancient Cultural Stereotypes Formed?

The ancients, when coming upon a new race or culture were usually forced to quickly decide if this new group of people posed a threat or not.  As a result complex behaviors were ignored for the simple easy to understand generalities.  There was no time to figure out the particular patterns of an individual within a group of people.  It was vital to determine if this new group of people posed a threat or not.  The quickest way to sum up a culture was by using sweeping generalities.  Such as “all Irish are drunks” or “all Inuit live in Igloos” or “all Japanese know karate”. 

How is Ancient Cultural Stereotypes Perpetuated?

Many of the ancient cultural stereotypes exist today because they have been passed on throughout history. Passing on of a stereotype is especially true in writing and film.  Too often characters are developed based only on these stereotypes and not on any intimate knowledge of a group of people by the author.  Native Americans are pictured as drunks in film.  Black women are depicted as servants for white households in many novels.  If there is a movie depicting a race other than white, and there is one white man in their midst, he will always be the smartest of the group and usually end up as the hero.