A Cultural Identity: do you have one?

Posted: June 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

identity by amantsdeminuit

With western trends taking over the world, got nothing against it in particular, I looked out the bus window and the people I saw on the pavement just made me wonder about a few things. Food for thought if nothing else.

Trendy clothes. Fast food. English accents. The unique identity that americans and the british started with are now becoming a sort of point that other countries seem to be clamoring to reach. Those developed countries are the most forward in terms of progress and most definitely have so much to teach developing countries about how to prosper – but looking at the general populus of men and women, in Delhi, in Singapore, in Colombo, all dressed in what’s trendy this season, eating the same kind of convenient food, talking about the same kind of movies, series and music – I feel like, I don’t know, the path to Being A Developed Nation seems to be sucking out bits of the nation’s roots.

I’m no one to judge and there’s no direct answer to the question of how to create a healthy equal balance between a country’s developmental change and its original culture. The growing culture initiated by the west in a way unites all the nations, gives all the countries something in common, adds to the whole ‘global village’ concept and all that jazz. Everyone’s got a burger joint, everyone learns english if they’re gonna join an important firm, everyone’s heard of Prada. And anyway what else can I expect? A Colombo where young people dress in sarees, paavada, sarongs and handloom cloths.. stick to the staple foods of kiribath, rice and maalu sodhi.. where all schools regardless of government or not teach sinhalese and tamil as first lingos, and make sri lankan geography and history compulsory..? A super-culture where sarees and sarongs are cultural pride and not backward compared to Levis and suits? Where the importance of english and western culture as a universal tool of communication are recognized and studied about but not at the expense of compromising eastern culture? Where pure eastern music is appreciated and not considered lame compared to english pop and rock?

Japan is one country I think that’s managed to balance things to some extent. It’s culture is epic and in every way remains intact, blending smoothly with their fast development, creating a sort of neo-Japanese identity. Do young people in Colombo have a unique identity compared to someone in another city? I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between my 15 year old cousin and another 15 year old cousin who was brought up in the UK, except for perhaps a coupla ‘aney’s in her sentences and the fact that she loves rotti. They both speak, dress and act the same, and have everything in common. Maybe a global village is a good thing that way? No differences, everyone’s the same. But who are you then? A dot among millions of dots, all grey dots on a grey wall.

Food for thought if nothing else.

  1. Gehan says:

    very interesting!

    im not so sure japan is a prime example. to me, they seem to have gone to both extremes instead of striking that balance u were talking about.

    i think dress and other things are all dependant on the appearance of affluence. its just that, to represent true wealth, we can not emulate someone of our own because, well, the white buggers are ‘richer’.

    the ‘global village’ idea sorta encompasses all that, but like u said, i suppose it is food for thought.

  2. Chavie says:

    Good post Maks.

    It all boils down to the attitude you have about your own culture. And when people pick jeans over the sarong, they’re picking function over looks or culture or whatever. I wouldn’t try jumping out of a moving bus wearing a sarong! haha 😉

  3. Dee says:

    Japan was pretty closed up for a long time and I suppose that’s why their culture remains little changed for today…

  4. Sach says:

    Maks, it’s a myth taught in our good old paradise island that Japan has ‘balanced’ things. Far from it. Compared to them, even in Colombo, we have preserved our culture much better.

    The only thing that Japan differs is, well, they don’t speak English so rather than trying to learn English they’ve just found a way to use Japanese in everything.

    Otherwise, Japs are total America wannabes.

    • makuluwo says:

      Wow really?! :O I guess I believed too much from those japan-esque movies, where there’s still women in kimonos and dojos in the streets and stuff. 😛

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