04 May 2005

If design = culture, where do I fit in?

I wonder what my cultural identity is. What designs do I, or should I, have on my own identity?

As an Indian – from India, and not to be confused with those who roamed freely over the American continent before the Whites arrived – I’ve often tried to pinpoint my place on the cultural map. Geographically, I know where I stand, but in terms of ethnicity, interests and lifestyle, things get a little out of focus for me.

Culturally, India is so diverse that perhaps there is no single Indian culture. Each state has its own ethnic formulation, with variants that could boggle any scientific mind. On top of this, living in Mumbai, which is a cauldron full of various ethnic potions, defining a single cultural identity becomes even more complicated.

With a childhood spent between Bengal and Brisbane (Australia), a university education in Economics which pointed out a career in marketing and communications, a penchant mostly for English books, Blues & Rock music, Hollywood films, and a circle of friends from around the country, I’m not quite sure which cultural or ethnic group I belong to.

So, I was glad to read an article titled “Cultural Identity” by Wendy Richmond in Communication Arts, and later reproduced on the Net where I came upon it. Ms Richmond’s final words appealed to me the most: “Instead of having a single cultural identity, perhaps I am part of an ever-changing cultural consciousness.” I think I fit in somewhere there.

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