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  • Writer's pictureElena Breeze

Global V Local - Architectural Globalisation and its Effect on Local Cultural Identity (P1)

1. Why Culture is Important: Humans have a desire to travel and experience new places; in 2018 alone, there were 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals (The Guardian, 2019). So, what is it we seek to gain from this travel?

Figure 1: National Geographic ‘Map of Human Migration’ (2020) The image above displays DNA tracking that has shown humans have been migrating around the world for millennia (National Geographic, 2019:online). This suggests that we seek changes in our environment. Scientists have discovered that approximately 20% of the world’s population have a variation of a gene DRD4-7R (Ellewood, M., et al., 2017:online) which is “linked with restlessness and curiosity… This restlessness can cause people to take bigger risks which includes exploring new or different places” (Psychology Blog Aimee, 2013:online). We yearn to experience different cultures and landscapes. So, what does experiencing different cultures do for us? Human beings have always had a strong need to belong – to know where they fit in (Very Well Mind, 2019). Perhaps to find our identity we must first learn about others’ identities so we can decide where we fit in to it all – decide who we want to be. In his book ‘Europe: A Cultural History’ Rietbergen says (referring to travel):


“for many, the memory remained a life-enhancing experience, a factor which somehow determined their future thoughts and actions. An increasingly close interaction between travel and other forms of educated communication altered the elite vision of European culture.” (Rietbergen, 1998:330) By writing this Rietbergen is stating that not only do our experiences travelling alter the way we think and act, they also influence our own cultures. It could then be said that through experiencing these different places and ways of life we are becoming more understanding and accepting of different cultures and subsequently different races and ethnicities. This would mean that travel and cultural exposure could lead to a more harmonious and understanding world – as humanist Jennifer Hancock writes: Travelling “builds confidence and empathy and strengthens our sense of self while at the same time helping us to feel connected to others. In short, it helps give us a global perspective that is at once humbling and empowering” (Hancock, J., 2017:online) Alternatively, it can be argued that experiences like these highlight the differences between different groups, causing some individuals to have an adverse response resulting in more friction. But although in some rare cases this has caused negative responses from extremists, the likelihood is that people will be able to identify what they don’t like about other cultures and will subsequently learn more about themselves and their values – helping them to adapt and find the sense of self and belonging that they yearn for; “cultural identity is important for people's sense of self and how they relate to others” (New Zealand Ministry of Social Development, 2003). Whilst cultural diversity helps us decide who we are it also makes the


world a much more interesting place; “when people come from different places and cultures they have contrasting points of views and ways of life” (Llanakila, 2018). Without these different views and ways of life there would be a reduced amount of individuality and a reduced cross-fertilisation of ideas, resulting in a lack of the creativity which makes the world flourish (Llanakila, 2018).


Culture brings large numbers of people to different countries, contributing to economic growth. However, this is not the reason cultural identities are formed. Culture is created from the history and nature of a place by the settled people. If a place has no culture it has no identity – no sense of place, and as Paul Brislin (leader of Arup's Sport Architecture and Sport Venue Design teams) says: “there is no doubt that a sense of identity is essential to survival – of individual, family, group and neighbourhood” (Brislin,2012). Therefore, it is fair to say that without culture there would be an increasing lack of identity. This would result in the absence of societies as people would not have that cultural connection bringing them together: “culture is the identity of the nation, without culture the society is impossible” (UK Essays, 2018:online).

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