My Cultural Identity

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Defining my own cultural identity
by Stefanie Öttl
Culture is one of the most difficult concepts in the human social sciences and there are many different ways of defining it. It is often argued that culture is a learned behaviour pattern shared by a specific group of people. Culture is about shared meanings, and language is the privileged medium in which meaning is produced and exchanged. People sharing one culture interpret the world in roughly the same way. Defining my own cultural identity seems to me quite difficult. I actually have to admit that I am not quite sure which culture I belong to. I was born in Austria but my father comes from South Tyrol, the northern part of Italy, where Italian and German are spoken. Therefore I have Italian nationality but I have only some basic knowledge concerning the language. Although I live in Austria, there are still some traditions and cultural aspects in my family that are not Austrian. Not only is there some Italian influence, but also Canadian due to the fact that my mother’s stepmother is British but emigrated to Canada. I haven’t got Canadian nationality, but I was brought up bilingually (German/English). Furthermore I spent half a year living in Chile and therefore I was influenced by the Chilean way of life. Understandably I sometimes get quite confused about which culture I really belong to. There are several parameters for defining one’s culture, such as nationality, language, the country you live in, gender, social class, occupation, interests, educational level….But the question is, which of these parameters is to be considered the most important. I have Italian nationality, but due to the fact that I don’t really know the language I don’t really feel Italian or ‘Southern Tyrolian’. And although I am not Canadian by citizenship I sometimes feel more at home there because of the language. Still, concerning some traditional aspects, I am more familiar with the ‘South Tyrolian’ ones but I don’t really feel that I belong there because I don’t know Italian nor do I really speak German with a ‘South Tyrolian’ accent. I believe that not knowing the language could be seen as a barrier keeping me from really experiencing Italian culture. I strongly believe that one can somehow adopt a culture by learning specific behaviour patterns, values, moralities or more precisely, a certain way of life. I experienced this while living in Chile and I can say for sure that it was far more difficult to adjust to a new way of living and learn how to react in certain situations than learning the foreign language. Despite all these influences of different cultures, I still feel very Austrian due to the fact of actually living in this country. The parameters which I believe to be very important in order to define your culture are first of all the is the country you live in because your culture depends very much on what is happening around you. The second important aspect is language through which thoughts, ideas and feelings of a certain culture are represented. The least important thing in my opinion is the nationality because I believe this to be a very official way of defining your culture. But, as I already mentioned, I sometimes don’t really know which culture I really belong to. I believe I am a mixture of all of them. Understanding home

by Michael Pelitz
“the night is your friend, your only friend the center stage, a moonscape as you walk. walk your head is a thread; your head’s a thread the eye of the needle becomes indistinct we’re just a sadder song away we’re just a sadder song away the mountaintops, the rainbow drops the fires from the temples and palaises. hurray the hierarchy that swallows me the pavement emptied out by night we’re just a sadder song away we’re just a sadder song away we’re off to understanding home we’re off to understanding home we’re off to understanding home we’re just a sadder song away” Just as I reached Radetzkyplatz,...
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