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Nationality and Cultural Identity Essay

Since the beginning of civilization, man has always traveled across shores for better food and shelter. As time passed by, the need of food and shelter transformed into the desire of a better living and man started traveling continents for the same. Today the world is heading more and more towards globalization and many developed countries abode multi cultural society. The United States of America’s entire history lies on migration and though by citizen they are Americans but all of them come from very diverse cultural backgrounds. The identity of a person is one of the most crucial aspects of being a citizen of a nation.

When it comes to countries that are multi cultured and have people from all parts of the world settled in than on a whole they might be citizens first, but they will always be identified from their cultural background. A nationality cannot be considered as an accurate guide for a person’s identity, as his cultural background would play a major role in his identification in the society. It is always seen that when it comes to identifying people with communities or groups, there is a common tendency to categorize people on the basis of ethnicity and racial diversity .

If groups of African American are standing in an airport in an Asian country, they would first be identified as people from African community rather than being identified as Americans. The cultural identity of a person is independent of the nationality one holds, and even though he might be a part of that nation, but it is commonly seen that they might exhort their own cultural identity rather than following the traditions of the masses. Nationality plays a major role in identity of a person on a whole but plays minimum role when it comes to cultural identity.

In a place like the United States of America, one can find people living of diverse race and cultures, and the fact that nationality cannot be seen as the cultural identity is evident by demographics of the country. Americans are culturally and racially separated on the lines of Caucasians, African Americans, Latin Americans, and Asian Americans. When its further segmented for instance in Asian American community, one can see that there are huge amount of differences culturally in an Indian American and a Chinese America, yet when it comes to nationality both of them have the American passports.

Because of a huge diversity in the world culturally and racially, it is more prominent to identify a person their culture rather than their nationality. A huge evidence of this fact of cultural identity is people from diverse backgrounds suffer racism for other culture whoa re too same nationals of that country and for that reason people also stick with groups or people who have the same cultural or racial background as a sense of identity is preserved.

When it comes to people traveling abroad, there is a tendency of people wanting to be with people of their own nationality and at that time there is more of being identified as citizens of a country rather than being identified culturally. The following quote of Zen’s from philosophical agendas sheds light on this issue: ‘The notion of humanity is basically a European construct, the mere addition of color or nationality as a qualifying circumstance to this ‘universal man’ will not be sufficient to legitimate indigenous and marginalized ethnic cultures on their own terms’ .

However the generations that are being perceived in this multi cultural environment choose more to be identified as a citizen before being identified culturally. Being born in an environment so full of diversity, there are youngsters who want identify all the cultures surrounding as one and denote them of being cultural inhabitants. The case of cultural identity being overshadowed by being a national of a country can be observed when people identify themselves as citizens of a particular nation. Factors such as accent and speaking dialects also make a person’s identity.

People are identified on the basis of countryside and city inhabitant just on the basis of dialect in America. The choice of staying in religious groups is also an important factor in identifying people. Since some religions have certain codes to be followed they can be identified from their dressing and living ways, for instance, Muslims grow beards, Punjabi Americans would be seen in turbans, Christians would mostly have crosses and so on and so forth. Another factor that identifies a cultural identity apart from nationality is the cuisines of a culture.

The variation in the cooking styles and inclusion and exclusions of meat choices to spices indicate a lot of cultural identity. One thing is for sure that how much ever one has to be culturally different from one another, when it comes to the nation, everyone are more citizens than cultural representatives. Bibliography: • Rogoff ”The Cultural Nature of Human Development”. Published by Oxford University Press US, 2003. • Schutte ,”Cultural Identity and Social Liberation in Latin American Thought”. Published by SUNY Press, 1993.


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