Subject Material

My Cultural Identity

Published: 18.01.2012, Updated: 04.03.2017
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Ekanathe from British Guyana

Listen to this interview with Ekanathe. He is originally from British Guyana in South America but has lived in the UK since he was two years old. In the interview he raises essential questions about identity, culture and religion.

 

British GuyanaBritish GuyanBefore you start listening you should locate British Guyana on this map. As you can see it is located in South America, bordering Venezuela and Suriname. Why do you think it is referred to as a Caribbean country or as a part of the West Indies?

Listen to the interview (approx. 9 mins.) and then do the tasks below.

Ekanathe 

Comprehension

After listening to the interview, you should try the interactive task in the link collection.

Discuss

  1. With its location by the Atlantic Ocean, British Guyana is often referred to as Caribbean or West Indian. To determine Ekanathe's identity might be a bit tricky. He is born in British Guyana to parents of Indian origin, but he has spent almost all his life in Great Britain. Still, he considers himself Indo-Guyanese. Why is that you think?
  2. "Indo-Guyanese" is an example of what we often refer to as a "hyphenated identity" Hyphenated identity. Do you feel that you need a hyphen (-) to express who you are? Is it enough to say that you are Norwegian, or do you think it is necessary to add something, e.g. if you are a second generation citizen in Norway and have parents from Pakistan or Somalia?
  3. Why do you think some people find it offensive if we use a hyphen when we refer to their identity?

Find Out

  1. Look at this definition of cultural identity in an encyclopedia Cultural Identity on The Free Dictionary. What do you think makes up a person's cultural identity?
  2. After listening to the interview and seeing the photo of Ekanathe, what do you think is the make-up of his cultural identity?
  3. Religion is important for Ekanathe, as it is for very many people. What do you think is at stake here?

    Three students that did not know each other very well had a lively and pleasant discussion. One of the students was American, the others were from Jordan and Hungary. They really hit it off, until the Hungarian student suddenly proclaimed that he did not believe in God. The American student, who in no way was an atheist, took no offense. The student from Jordan, though, was extremely upset and became dismissive and reserved towards the Hungarian.

  4. What makes up your cultural identity? Consider
    • values and beliefs,
    • language
    • traditions
    • family/clan
    • food and drink
    • dress codes
    • taboos
    • ethnicity
    • respect/honour
    • ways of communicating (formal, informal, straight to the point, using anecdotes and body language)

 

Tasks

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