Halloween is always an interesting time for anthropologists and sociologists. The things people choose to dress up as and what that suggests about the culture, the cultural histories of Halloween and it’s variations around the world (Dia de los Muertos, for example) are all areas of critical thinking and exploration.
For example, the holiday that we know as a family-friendly kids holiday didn’t exist as we know it until around the 1950s. Learn more here: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/halloween-around-the-world.
And did you know the theories put forth about why witches ride brooms? This one is a surprising one – tied to the theories about the causes of the Salem Witch Trials. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/why-do-witches-ride-brooms-nsfw/281037/
And how about the ability of the horror genre to address our most unspoken fears? http://www.theguardian.com/film/2008/oct/31/horror
And what about the many examples of racial and cultural insensitivity, appropriation, and sexualization of female costumes? What do those say about the issues we face in our society?
http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/10/29/halloween-choose-respect/ – This op-ed from the Harvard Crimson makes great points about the problems of college costumes and cultural appropriation on campuses.
A quote from the above article: “When you dress as “ghetto fab,” as a “redneck,” or as an “illegal alien,” you’re mocking the racial and socioeconomic inequalities in our society and appropriating what you think is minority culture for your one night of fun.”
http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/10/new_exhibit_assesses_the_history_of_blackface.html?wpisrc=burger – Mark Anthony Neal, a professor at Duke and Harvard Universities addresses this history of blackface and it’s place in U.S. culture.
As people celebrate, dress up, and eat candy this weekend, don’t be afraid to think critically!
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