Lecture 7: Culture, Landscape and Identity
Reading: Fouberg et al, Chapter 5, pp. 149-162
Quiz: Opens today at 5 pm until Friday at 5
Cultural identity: the feeling of belonging to a group or culture (good
definition for the exam)
Is this an exclusively human idea?!
Another definition: identity of an individual, influenced by belonging to a
group or culture
What Goes on in an Identity?
• Common habits, characteristics and ideas may be clear markers of
a shared cultural identity, but it is also determined by difference:
o We feel we belong to a group and a group defines itself by
noticing and highlighting differences with other groups and
o We notice that we speak a different language when we come
across those who speak a different language
o Your identity vs. another’s identity
o Identity and culture clashes are what define identity
• Markers: clothes, language, food…etc
Constructing Cultural Identity
People who feel they belong to the same culture rely on a common set of
• But the awareness of such common codes is possible only by
confrontation with their absence, namely, confrontation with other
• Common Markers and the Absences
In other words: if you think you’re the only existing culture (e.g. living on an
island in the ocean) do you see yourself as a culture?
• Thus cultural self-definition implies a continuous contact between
o Ex. Fortified city of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan state, India à
Founded in 1156, used in confrontations between the Bhattis
Such contact is not relations of equality, since they never exist in an isolated
form • Equality in technology ?
• Perception of inequality between different cultural groups
• Who is better than the other?
• The notion is that cultures are rarely equal in all things
• One culture better at something than the other
The complex web of relationships created by the interactions of -- political,
economic, scientific, cultural relations, etc… -- turns any relations between
two cultures into what can seem to be an unequal one.
• This can change at anytime though.
• There is frequently a dominate cultural practice. Culture A may be
dominant in architecture and B in technology. (comparative
Within a culture or cultural practice, there is an awareness of common
• This means that
o There has also been a striving toward preservation of this
o Toward self-preservation of the culture
o Ex. Constructing monuments are part of this ‘striving’ –
monument to Portuguese discoveries in Lisbon, Portugal;
The shared conventions on which identity is based, are often assumed and
• The basic rules and meaning underlying the production of identity
are taken for granted by participants.
• This structured set of presuppositions are what we call ‘doxa’.
(know this term!)
• Such as clothing, behaviour, and position in society
Responses of Cultural Identity to the ‘Other’
Every culture is continually forced to determine its position toward ‘other’
cultural elements, in order to preserve or redefine its identity.
• Repositioning Nomadic pastoralism is one of the most heavily influences cultures by
One approach to examining this difference, is to look at responses to cultural
• In one framework, there are four basic reactions to ‘other’ outside
o Imperialist: A reaction in which otherness is denied and
o Trans-cultural: a reaction that neither radically opposes itself
to other culture (or cultural features) nor refuses their
o Defensive: a reaction in which ‘otherness’ is acknowledged