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Culture is a term with many layers. It can be applied to the customs, traditions, and expressions of the people within a particular geography (for example, France), and at the same time it can apply to the customs and expressions of people across all geographies, but centered around a certain activity (surf / skate culture for example), or a certain kind of music or art (hip-hop culture). Even age-groups can define a culture (youth-culture, Generation-Y culture).

Religion is sometimes a central element of culture. In many indigenous populations for example, culture is essentially an expression of religious beliefs.

Historically, travelers and others have always faced internal (and oftentimes external) conflicts over cultural differences. This has led to the concept of “cultural relativism,” or the idea that a person’s individual beliefs (and actions stemming from those beliefs) should be viewed within the context of that person’s – and not the viewer’s – own culture.

Cultural relativism is central to many debates because it often forces moral questions, for example, the morality of Afghan women being forced to remain covered head to toe in public. At Matador, we seek ground level views of culture as our gateway to empathy and understanding.

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