My cultural background essay

Garlic was an object that marked difference, more or less foreign to the German kitchens at the time, at least the ones I knew. I cannot remember garlic as an ingredient, let alone a common ingredient in our food; now, I grow about bulbs per year in my own garden. I remember two incidents having to do with garlic. The first happened in fifth or sixth grade. Some students in my class began calling my friend Joseph "Knobi" short for Knoblauch, garlic. I was not really aware of this name calling until it became known that Joseph's mother had come to school and complained, which led to reprimands of the students who had called Joseph the names.

The second happened one night when we traveled on the train—perhaps it was after our car broke down coming back from Yugoslavia. At one point, there was also a man of clearly Mediterranean origin. After he left the compartment on the next day, we were talking about the decidedly different smell exuded by the person, a smell that we related to garlic-eating patterns.

We children experienced the smell as unusual, strange, and almost repulsive—much as my whole body revolts when I smell different meats cooking on a grill.

It would have been interesting to see such developments theorized in terms of activity theory in Cultural Psychology. How do distinct preferences for tastes and smells develop in children, and how do these preferences become markers for cultural difference and, in the extreme, racism? Cleanliness streets, houses, etc. The houses seemed to change suddenly when we crossed the borders, which themselves required customs offices and fences to mark the difference in an otherwise unmarked topology of the landscape. We learned that the French, Italians, and all Mediterranean people more generally were not as clean as we were.

Not that we could see it "naturally"; we were tutored to see the cleanliness of our own villages where the people were using brooms to clean the sidewalks every Saturday , and the "dirtiness" and "filthiness" Schmutz that characterized the streets and outsides of homes in other countries.

Although my grandfather rejected the Nazi atrocities when he found out about them, although he was a world traveler, he still rejected the idea that his granddaughter, perhaps German women in general, would date and marry people of a different nationality or ethnicity. My sister was going out with a Liberian, but never visited my grandparents, though they were relative Libertarians, because she was afraid of having to face their disapproval.

Although my grandparents were world travelers and for a period of time after their retirement spent as much time abroad as at home, they could not accept that their granddaughter would date an African, or for that matter, an Italian, as she did later. But racism is not something isolated to Germans. The U. American society, for example, is fundamentally racist, forcing individuals of all ethnic backgrounds to get drowned in the "melting pot" of Anglo-Saxon middle-class culture or be rejected.

In the sixties, I heard for the first time about African Americans not being allowed in the same parts of public transportations; I did not understand because those African Americans they used to call them "Neger" [negro] back then, a piece of evidence that culture, language, and values constantly change that I had seen in Germany, did not seem any different in humanity than the other American soldiers. When I lived in Mississippi during the eighties, evidence of racism abounded.

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A man leaving the house when his wife, children, or grand children watched one show or another in which an African American featured. My room mate, an African American teacher from New Orleans, talked about attempting to enter a pub, being initially asked for one piece of ID, then another, then a third, and not being able to enter because he did not have a piece of ID issued by the state of Mississippi.

Fat Joe's flea market in the center of Lucedale, Mississippi, was openly selling Ku Klux Klan outfits, samples of which were hanging on flagpoles over the entry to the store. But one did not have to go to the "Deep South" to experience racism.

My Cultural Identity Paper #1

During the mid-eighties in Martinsville, Indiana, members of the KKK were driving an African American out of town who had dared to open a little business. I lived in northern Bavaria where Catholics inhabited most villages though some other villages were dominated by a protestant population and in each, a few families lived in diaspora.

Cultural Identity Essay: Make Others Feel the Beauty of Your Native Land

I always lived in diasporic situations, always other than my peers, never making the weekly Saturday trip to confession. I only found out later that the difference was relevant to some: a girl once told me during my teenage years that it was no use dating because she could never marry someone who was not a Catholic. Both the idea that dating entailed marriage and that inter-denominational marriage was out of question are cultural. When I was about eighteen, I asked my religion teacher who was also pastor religion classes were compulsory in those days , how he could so fervently preach the message from Bible if, had he been born in India or Japan, he could have been a Hindu or Buddhist with the same fervor?

Religion, to me, was a matter of context and not a matter of truth. It never made sense to me to have religion as a marker for borders such as "inter-denominational m arriage" that could not be crossed. In Canada, we encourage sometimes requiring legal precedent difference all the while, through participation in shared activity, encouraging the commonality of all citizens. For example, police offers of Sikh origin may now wear the traditional turban rather than the hats that officers have worn for decades, since the country was born.

Teaching here on the Canadian West Coast requires particular sensitivities to the plurality of patterns on which individuals may draw in their bricolage of identity. Aboriginal students often do not speak when there is insufficient temporal "space" between speakers so that in classes, where aboriginal students are present, only sensitivity to the temporal lag between speakers will permit them with points of entry in conversations. In other aspects, these aboriginal students are like those of other individuals born in the country, for example, in their easy adoption of the practice of addressing their professors by using first names.

Some students never change to the first name pattern others resort to addressing me with title and first name, as "Dr. Perhaps multiculturalism may lead to the abandonment of the concept of culture, especially if, as KAYA's text suggests, culture such as Turkish-Berlin hip-hop emerges from a bricolage of elements. At this point in time, opposite trends can be observed. There are clearly nationalist tendencies, such as the Basque or Corsicans, or the tendencies to self-government among aboriginal peoples Australia, Canada ; the definition of the unit is a definition of a distinct Self for each and everyone subscribing to the tendency.

On the other hand, there are also the opposite tendencies, which lead to an increasing creolization of ethnicities. In this case, the question of identity and its correspondent construct of culture needs to be reexamined, especially when multicultural means no distinct culture along traditional lines of difference. Over the years, I have found it increasingly difficult to say who "I" am; certainly not voluntarily do I talk about German ancestry but more as having grown up in Germany.


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I do not understand myself as German but as Canadian, with all the sensibilities that are attributed to this multicultural, multiethnic nation. Increasingly I have become aware of the fact that we define who we are in terms of narratives of past events, the roles we have played in our lives, the successes and failures, in terms of the activities that we engage in, our occupation, marital status, number of children, or the music we listen to.

Cultural Background Of Cross Cultural Communication

In both books, it was difficult to discern what it means to be a human being, making decisions in the specific context that are described. Identity is a structural aspect, which, in Cultural Psychology is expressed in the treatment of German soldiers as cultural dopes that have become or rather were killing machines. Sicher in Kreuzberg also articulates the structural or shall I say, constructed aspects of identities:.

Unless we are defined by others, we cannot represent ourselves. Who is the person, who equally likes medieval plainchant, requiems, MAHLER's symphonies, serialist compositions, and minimalist music? I do not experience a contradiction between high culture and popular or counter culture or subculture—though being raised in Germany and going to Gymnasium meant that initially I had the same distain for popular culture as most of my fellow students.

But over time, especially after I learned to appreciate classical music in my early twenties, developed a wide-range of musical tastes. These include the rock of my teenage years Rolling Stones, Jimmy HENDRIX, Doors , Texas blues that I came to know and appreciate during my years in Mississippi, a broad range of classical music from plainchant through the entire gamut of twentieth-century music. Who is the person who is research professor, grows all of his vegetables year-round, and spends an hour and a half each day on a road-racing bicycle?

How would it change my reader's own experience if I could be him author for just a day? For me the most troublesome aspect in much of social research, one that neither modern nor postmodern scholarship has sufficiently addressed is lived unrepresented experience itself. The simple fact of being in the world, HEIDEGGER's central concern in Sein und Zeit [Being and time], doing what one has to do, saying what one has to say, without being reflective about it or trying to do and say more than one does and say.

In my present life, there are many moments of complete abandonment to the present moment, in writing research, tending to my garden, riding a racing bicycle, teaching, or cooking meals. Take the present moment of writing these lines. I might say, "I" am sitting, working on an article.

Cultural Identity Essay Sample and Expert Writing Hints

In fact, saying "I" is overstating a central aspect of the experience. Nor does it appear appropriate to say "sitting" and "working. Many years ago, I wrote the following lines that were part of a poem in a collection entitled "Transcendence. Where there are no words Space and time dissolved Being is The experience of unity. Being able to abandon Self [ 54 ]. There is no reference to anything or anyone sitting; the sitter is not discriminated from the mountain. Can we still talk about cultural identity when the very tools and processes for "constructing" identities, representation and reflection, do no longer exist in the experience?

Cultural Essay: Things to Talk about While Writing

How can cultural studies, which focus so much on the "construction" of identities, and cultural psychology, which focuses on the production of identity in activity, account for such experiences? Cultural Psychology is divided into two parts: theory Part 1 and method Part 2.

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In Cultural Psychology from the Perspective of Activity Theory Chapter 1 , the results of many quantitative studies are cited to support the claim that culture and psychology are, in fact, inseparable. Correspondingly, there are subsections that deal with the influence of cultural activities, artifacts, and concepts, on the one hand, and psychological phenomena, on the other. There is a subsection in which the author articulates not a one-way dependency between the variables just articulated but that there exists, in fact, a dialectical relationship among cultural activities, artifacts, concepts, and psychological phenomena.

Finally, there is a section in which the topic of agency, a concept central to recent discussions in the social sciences and always held in dialectical relation to structure.

In the second chapter, individualistic approaches to agency, those that treat psychological phenomena independent of culture, are merely sketched in strawperson fashion and then viciously attacked.

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