Cultural identity Essay

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Cultural identity Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 955

  • Pages: 4

Cultural identity

According to Bloch, the ultrasocial and communicative nature of the human species makes the desire for a unique sense of belonging a deep-seated need. Identification with a particular community, whether it is a distinct cultural identity or a subculture of socio-political beliefs helps fulfill this need. This is not to say the desire for cultural identity rests on the same psychological drive or libidinal charge that powers fashion or gestation.

It is important to distinguish that need from these desires, as cultures are not mere surface properties distinguished only by flavor and aesthetics, instead they arise naturally from the unique properties of the geography that spawn them. Archaeologist Paul Bidwell notes that the success of many empires such as those of the Roman Empire quite possibly has more to do with their ability to accommodate diverging cultures.

Areas which were successfully Romanized such as southern Britannia were won over by inviting the ruling classes to dinner, while Celtic chiefs disinterested in Roman culture were never successfully incorporated into the pre-modern proto-melting pot that was the Roman Empire. In essence, Bidwell asserts that the Roman Empire’s assimilation policy rested entirely on a principle of minimizing the amount of intervention necessary to secure imperial interests such as the food supply provided by Egyptian agriculture, limiting their actions entirely to structured forms of co-optation: legislation, taxes and the requisitioning of goods.

Bloch concurs, noting that when an empire begins to disrupt the social fabric of a culture, that trouble begins. This is not unlike the present state of the “accidental empire” of the United States, which as a melting pot (or salad bowl, depending on who you ask) is remarkably tolerant of other cultures to the extent that it does not threaten the status quo.

Globalization permits the fulfillment of the desire for individual cultural belonging by making all sorts of cultural identities permissible by amplifying their importance in relation to an American past that had previously been subject to the hegemony of European culture. Because cultural diversity is now more relevant to the economic and political concerns of the United States, they are now considered more relevant to individuals by making the range of identity expression more permissible.

If the United States is the Roman Empire, then it has now begun to realize that it is no longer practical to keep the cultures of Celts and Egyptians at arm’s length. For example, European culture’s relationship with the United States resembles that of the relationship between Greek culture to the Roman Empire, while many other cultures stand in for the Celts which are largely held up as valuable assets to be accommodated into a global economy that has been enabled by digital telecommunications technologies.

Jerry Mander argues that whatever criticisms can be leveled against free trade agreements and other means by which nation states and transnational corporations exert commercial and political hegemony, these acts are merely external homogenization processes, and as such, a truly efficient and successful homogenization of culture relies on the ever expanding range of communication technologies such as TV and the Internet.

Global telecommunications are in essence, internal homogenization forces that “speak directly into the minds of people everywhere, imprinting them with a unified pattern of thought, a unified set of imagery and ideas, a single framework of understanding for how life should be lived, thus carrying the homogenization and commodification mandate directly inside the brain. ”

For example, Todd Gitlin argues that the increasing influence of Hollywood on the international film market have essentially rewritten the parameters by which filmmakers produce their films, effectively washing away the paradigms of filmmaking that are unique to various cultures as well as reengineering local tastes. Gitlin does not suggest that differences in cultural content have been eradicated, but rather, the models and designs of American entertainment have become the most far-flung, successful and consequential.

However, Soraj Hongladarom does defend the idea that digital telecommunications do not necessarily erode notions of local culture, presenting an example in which one thrives in spite of globalizing effects of such. In an examination of Thai based newsgroup culture, he notes that the Internet replicates the heterogeneity of local cultures using it, rather than subsuming them into one homogenous whole.

Hongladarom thus concludes that what the Internet does, is create an “umbrella culture” under which disparate cultures can communicate: “Thai attitudes toward the CMC technologies, especially the Internet, seem to show that the technologies only serve as a means that makes communication possible, communication which would take place anyway in some other form if not on the Internet … Cyberspace mirrors real space, and vice versa. ” Works Cited Bidwell, Paul. Roman Forts in Britain. Wiltshire: English Heritage, 2007. Gitlin, Todd. Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives.

New York: Henry Holy and Company, 2002. Hongladarom, Soraj. “Global Culture, Local Cultures and the Internet: The Thai Example. ”C. Ess and F. Sudweeks (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Communication and Technology ’98, University of Sydney, Australia, 231-245. Retrieved May 6, 2008 at: http://www. it. murdoch. edu. au/~sudweeks/catac98/pdf/19_hongladarom. pdf Mander, Jerry. “The Homogenization of Global Consciousness: Media, Telecommunications and Culture. ” Lapis Magazine. Retrieved on May 6, 2006 from: http://www. lapismagazine. org/index. php? option=com_content&task=view&id=120&Itemid=2

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Cultural Identity Essay

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Cultural Identity Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 609

  • Pages: 2

Cultural Identity

Stuart Hall beings his discussion on Cultural Identity and Diaspora with a discussion on the emerging new cinema in the Caribbean which is known as Third Cinema. This new form of cinema is considered as the visual representation of the Afro-Caribbean subjects- “blacks” of the diasporas of the west- the new post colonial subjects. Using this discussion as a starting point Hall addresses the issues of identity, cultural practices, and cultural production.

There is a new cinema emerging in the Caribbean known as the Third Cinema. It is considered as the visual representation of the Afro-Caribbean in the post colonial context. In this visual medium “Blacks” are represented as the new postcolonial subjects. In the context of cultural identity hall questions regarding the identity of this emerging new subjects. From where does he speak? Very often identity is represented as a finished product. Hall argues that instead of considering cultural identity as a finished product we should think of it a production which is never complete and is always in process.

He discusses two ways of reflecting on cultural identity. Firstly, identity understood as a collective, shared history among individuals affiliated by race or ethnicity that is considered to be fixed or stable. According to this understanding our cultural identity reflects the common historical experiences and shared cultural codes which provide us as “one people.” This is known as the oneness of cultural identity, beneath the shifting divisions and changes of our actual history. From the perspective of the Caribbean’s this would be the Caribbeanness of the black experience. This is the identity the Black diaspora must discover. This understanding did play a crucial role in the Negritude movements. It was a creative mode of representing the true identity of the marginalised people. Indeed this act of rediscovery has played crucial role in the emergence of many of the important social movements of our time like feminist, ani-colonial and anti-racist.

Stuart Hall also explores a second form of cultural identity that exist among the Caribbean, this is an identity understood as unstable, metamorphic, and even contradictory which signifies an identity marked by multiple points of similarities as well as differences. This cultural identity refers to “what they really are”, or rather “what they have become.” Without understanding this new identity one cannot speak of Caribbean identity as “one identity or on experience.” There are ruptures and discontinuities that constitute the Caribbean’s uniqueness. Based on this second understanding of identity as an unstable Hall discusses Caribbean cultural identity as one of heterogeneous composites. It is this second notion of identity that offers a proper understanding of the traumatic character of the colonial experience of the Caribbean people.

To explain the process of identity formation, Hall uses Derrida’s theory ‘differance’ as support, and Hall sees the temporary positioning of identity as “strategic” and arbitrary. He then uses the three presences–African, European, and American–in the Caribbean to illustrate the idea of “traces” in our identity. A Caribbean experiences three kinds of cultural identities. Firstly, the cultural identity of the Africans which is considered as site of the repressed, secondly, the cultural identity of the Europeans which is the site of the colonialist, and thirdly, the cultural identity of the Americans which is a new world- a site of cultural confrontation. Thus the presence of these three cultural identities offers the possibility of creolization and points of new becoming. Finally, he defines the Caribbean identity as diaspora identity.

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