I'm preparing for a presentation in 2 weeks on cultural identity. I find I'm coming up with questions that make me question the how important that identity really is and I'm realizing how fluid it is depending on the situation we find ourselves in.
A long time ago, when villages were isolated and borders were closed, everyone had so much in common to the point of exclusivity. It remains that way today in some places like North Korea, remote Amazonian villages, places on the African continent, etc. But today those places are the minority, and every day the world gets smaller. We eat international cuisine and different family members have different religions, habits and values based on education, social status and worldliness.
What is culture (yeah, I know the text book definition)? I'm questioning it.... Is technology eroding culture and if so does it have a purpose, and what is it? Is it relevant? Do we need to belong to a cultural "bucket"? Why?
Today, many people identify with global citizen and multi-cultural. They have little affinity for the band of people who overthrew the piece of land their ancestors lived on and changed its name, their religion and cuisine. How many families are blended and reblended to the point of almost indistinguishable backgrounds?
I asked a few people today if they were proud of their culture. They all said yes. I followed up by asking - why? The most common answer I got was because it's my family history. I don't think that's a logical answer but it's what they said.
For how many generations will Americans say they are French, British, Polish, Italian, Irish, Australian, Latino, etc...? Why is it important? Is there a cut off after so many generations when they won't say it any more?
If someone you meet at a coffee shop asks you "what you are" how do you answer? If you were in Jamaica on vacation and someone asked you the same question would your answer be the same or different?
Some people have a really strong cultural identity and others - like me - have a very diluted or weak one. What about you and if you do, why does it matter?