Cultural Idintities

Topics: Race, Nation, Ethnic group Pages: 6 (1724 words) Published: May 5, 2013

Cultural identity refers to the identity elements of a group of people or a particular culture, or even an individual who belongs and influenced by a certain group or culture. Different current cultural researches and social theories have examined cultural identity. Recently, a new type of identification has appeared which analyze the recognizing of the individual as a integrated subject within a collection of different cultural identifiers. These cultural identifiers might be the fruit of diverse conditions involving: history, gender, sexuality, language, religion, race, ethnicity and nation. However, The divisions between cultures may be very fine in particular parts of the world ( that the citizens have different ethnics and social community is supported by shared social values and beliefs) , in places such as the United States or Canada. The cultural researches view on race and ethnicity certainly affirms the influences of the intersections of ethnicity, race and class. However, it has aimed to avoid the curtailment of these forms to class and the capitalism functions. As an alternative, cultural studies has tended to examine: the representation of cultural meanings of race and ethnicity, race and cultural politics, and finally the relationship between class, race and gender(Barker, 2008).. This essay will explain and discuss the idea that cultural identities are not fixed but have histories and undergo transformation in relation to race and ethnicity. The essay will be focused on ethnicity and race as categories of cultural identity. Indeed, it is the examination of the degrees of race and ethnicity in terms of identity that imparts the cultural studies method its typical edge.

Main body

Firstly, The meaning of the word race carries the traces of its origins in the biological claims of social Darwinism that intensify 'types of people' and 'lines of descent'. Here the concept of race attribute to ostensible physical and biological characteristics, the most obvious of which is the color of the skin .These features, usually linked to 'intelligence' and 'capabilities', are chosen in order to rank 'racial zed' groups of people in a hierarchy of social and material dominance and servility. These racial categories, structured by and constitutive of power, are at the base of racism. Barker argued that:" The idea of 'racialization 'is established on the argument that race is asocial conception and not a universal or essential form of biology." (Barker, 2008). It is argued that Races do not appear separate of representation. Rather, they are emerged in and by symbolic representation in a process of social political power clash (Hall, 1990,1996d, 1997c).Therefore, visible attributes are converted into race signifiers. This involves the inauthentic appeal to fundamental biological and cultural difference. As Hall argues: "Accepting that skin 'colour', however meaningless we know it to be, has a strictly limited material basis in biology, opens up the possibility of engaging with theories of signification which can highlight the elasticity and emptiness o f racial' signifiers as well as the ideological work which has to be done in order to turn them into signifiers o f race'as an open political category, for it is struggle that determines which definitions of'race'will prevail and the conditions under which they will endure or wither away." (Hall,1992)

In Britain, Australia and America the historical creation of 'race' is one of power and inferiority. That is, people of colour have gotten constitutionally subordinate positions in relation to many areas of 'life-chances'. British Afro-Caribbeans, African-Americans and Australian Aboriginal peoples have been underprivileged in :the labor market, the housing market ,the education system ,the media and other types of cultural representation. In this context, race position (or racialization) has been inherently racist for it involves categories of social,...

References: Barker, Chris, (2008) "Ethnicity Race and Nation" from Barker, Chris, Cultural studies: theory and practice pp.246-279, London: Sage
Brah, A. (1996). Cartographies of diaspora. Contesting identities. London: Routledge.
Hall, Stuart. (1992). ' 'The Question of Cultural Identity. ' ' pp. 273-326. Cambridge: Cambridge Polity Press.
Hall, Stuart. (1996)," Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies", pp. 411-440. London: Routledge.
Miles, Robert, (1982)" Racism and migrant Labour" ( London: Routledge and Kegan Paul)
Miles, Robert,. (1989). "Racism", London: Routledge.
Richard Dyer, White: Essays on Race and Culture (London: Routledge, 1997)
Albertazzi, D and Cobley, P. (eds) (2010) The Media: an introduction (3rd edn), Harlow: Pearson.
Rex, John, (1970) "Race Relations in Sociological Theory", Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, pp.161.
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