Cultural Identity In Anthropology

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The dialogical self is a very useful concept for the analysis of the multiple identifications of individuals in multicultural circumstances that are so characteristic of the contemporary era of globalisation. It complements the dynamic conception of culture that has emerged in anthropology in recent decades, while it has a number of advantages over the traditional concept of identity. This article discusses the development of the concept of culture in anthropology as well as the parallel debate about the notion of cultural identity in anthropology in order to demonstrate that the notion of the dialogical self to some extent overcomes the difficulties with the concept of identity in the analysis of the dialogical interaction between different…show more content…
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seems very useful to address the different and even opposing demands resulting from the differentiation of culture in the context of globalisation and its associated processes of migration.
Indeed, the prominence of culture in the contemporary era seems itself a cultural phenomenon that cannot be analysed in isolation of the unprecendented impact of globalisation. When the impact of innovations in communication technology gathered some momentum and the rise of neo-liberal ideologies seemed irreversible, the emergence of globalisation became rapidly uncontested in the 1980s. Initially, some pessimists still predicted that globalisation would entail an increasing homogenisation of customs and cultures throughout the world (Ritzer, 1992), but some 15 years later it is no longer disputed that globalisation seems to involve increasing heterogeneity instead (Appadurai, 2001). After all, in contrast to earlier expectations globalisation has incited a large-scale revival of cultural traditions at local
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‘Culture’ in the old days
The contestation of culture is not a unique feature of the existing Zeitgeist. By mid-twentieth century two American anthropologists, Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952), found 164 definitions in their famous review of what anthropologists meant by culture.
In the course of the 1960s and 1970s, however, culture nearly disappeared from view in
European anthropology, although in the United States it did retain its value as a crucial concept (Kuper, 1999). Over the past 15 years or so, partly with the help of cultural studies, it can be argued that ‘culture’ has resumed its key position in anthropology throughout the world, which is largely due to the central role of culture in popular discourses of multicultural societies. But contemporary conceptions of culture are radically different from the meaning culture used to have when anthropology developed as a discipline within the academy in the nineteenth century. A brief excursion into the shifting meaning of culture over the years may help to clarify contemporary connotations of culture.
Many anthropological textbooks open with the definition of culture as a whole way of life of a group or society as it was first formulated by the English
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