The Meaning of Culture in Samoa

The samoaobserver has recently published an article about sharing the idea of culture. The Museum of Samoa has started a project in which many Samoan visitors were asked about their definition of culture. The submitted replies that are captured in the ongoing “My Culture Project” could not be more different from each other.

What does the word “culture” really mean? Every person might define the term in a different way. In Oceania culture is mainly defined by what you see; the lifestyle that local people live. Some countries like Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands are multi-cultural that consists of more than two major cultures. Other countries such as Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Marshall Islands are largely culturally homogenous with slight variations between islands.

The museum has collected lots of photos showing visitors of the museum and their perspective of culture. The museum collected so many photos that they decided to launch an exhibition. During the “My Culture Project” people visit the museum, and if they wish, will take a photo holding a piece of paper explaining what culture means to them. Most people write one word or a short phrase.

To take a look at some of the examples, visit the Museum of Samoa’s Website.

During this month (June) the museum plans to showcase approximately sixty different photos. That is sixty people with sixty  different definitions of culture. Lumepa Apelu, Museum Principal Officer, said, “This diversity is what makes the Museum’s exhibition special. It really features all the different kinds of people which visit the museum. That is why we decided to exhibit it. We have for instance taken photos of families, tourists, students and, of course, children.”

As for children, the museum’s administration believe that this project will be a great opportunity to encourage the museum’s youngest visitors to deal with their own heritage and culture. “We found out that a lot of children like the project.They all like to see the different ideas of culture. The kids do have some wild ideas and it is always fun for them to find out what everybody’s idea about culture is,” said Apelu.

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A Samoan Kava Ceremony

About islandculturearchivalsupport

Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of records pertaining to the cultural identity of island peoples in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia whose national and public archives, libraries, cultural centers, and business organizations are underprivileged, underfunded, and understaffed. The specific purpose for which this nonprofit corporation was formed is to support the needs of these South Pacific cultural heritage institutions by helping to preserve and make accessible records created for business, accountability or cultural purposes. The organization will endeavor to add value by providing resources or volunteers to advise, train, and work among island residents to support their efforts in building their future and preserving their collective memory through the use of modern archival techniques.
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