we insert the theme of cultural identity in the current scenario
of accelerated social change, we see the difficulty of maintaining
a unique and homogeneous concept. Every territory that in the past
has provided us with solid references defining ourselves as social
individuals such as social class, gender, sexuality, ethnic
group, race, nationality is being fragmented today, shaking
the individuals from their identifying axle and preventing them
to maintain an integrated and global image of themselves.
to authors such as Stuart Hall
, we cannot conceive ourselves anymore as "subjects of illuminism",
i.e., individuals who from birth have an identity that is ours for
life. This identity would be like an inner center endowed with reason
that would remain the same throughout existence, allowing the individual
to have a fixed sense of him/herself.
growing complexity of the modern world, associated with the new
researches in social sciences, have been decisive to put in check
such model, giving way to the understanding that the structuring
of the central nucleus is neither autonomous nor self-sufficient
in itself, but it is formed through the relationship with others,
who act as cultural mediators. Identity is seen as an alignment
between our subjective feelings and the objective places we occupy
in our culture. Such conception of identity appears to be perfectly
consonant with the idea of development in an endogenous or local
perspective, since it allows for the use of the collective as a
focus, understanding that if development is a self-transformation
process, it is the cultural identity that allows the group to decide
what it wants to transform itself into, thus clearly affirming its
challenge imposed by current globalization to cultural models falls
directly in the identity organizing nucleus, that even sociological
approaches insist in maintaining. For if traditional references
are fragmented, revealing their unnatural and ephemeral character,
how can stable identities be built? Furthermore, if we identify
with "fragments", what is the assurance that such identifications
are congruent among themselves, conferring a measure of unity to
the identity? Authors like Hall and Canclini tell us that this identity
center is illusory and that we only feel it as real because we built
ourselves a comfortable self-description. In truth, inasmuch as
representation and signification systems multiply, we are confronted
with a disturbing diversity of possible identities.
cultural identity is not a solid pattern that will give us a sense
of belonging to a culture or a nation but a mobile
configuration continuously formed and transformed in the different
forms through which we are represented in the various social systems
surrounding us. We may therefore conceptualize it as trans-territorial
[cultural] identity is perceived as a shattered repertoire of mini-roles,
instead of as a nucleus of a hypothetical sense of self."
contemporary globalized society, in conceiving nations as cultural
hybrids, brings a new configuration to cultural identities, where
the strongest link seems to be the local one easily perceived
in the multiplicity of minority groups or community associations
which, ultimately, may indicate the fading of the idea of
nation and nationality. Separated from their original territoriality
and temporality, contemporary identities seem to "float freely".
The tension between the global the movement
that involves crossing borders and engaging in trans-national integration
and the local characteristic of new collective bonds
opens up a privileged space to redefine the new meaning of
cultural identity. If we consider the
Latin American hibrid Cultures , it is only in the coexistence
of tradition and modernity that any development project may be successful.
Which brings us to the next challenge: How to preserve cultural
identities and therefore cultural diversity without falling prey
to a xenophobic and ultraconservative posture?
may also insert this issue in the game between tradition and translation,
in the sense still utopic given by Stuart Hall to cultural
identity-building processes that cross natural borders are led by
people who maintain (...) strong bonds with their birthplaces and
their original traditions, without deluding themselves about a possible
return to the past. They carry with them the culture, traditions,
language and personal history that left strong impressions on them.
The difference is that they are not and never will be unified in
the ancient sense, because they are, irrevocably, the product of
many interconnected histories and cultures." (Hall, 2000, p.
people who belong to hybrid cultures, who are still learning to
translate and negotiate between different cultural habitats and
who seem to represent a new type of cultural identity, may be capable
of producing a decentralization (still slow and gradual) of Western
1) "HALL, Stuart. A identidade cultural na pós modernidade,
4.ed.. rio de janeiro: DP&A, 2000. (HALL, Stuart. The question
of cultural identity. In: HALL, S, HELD, D. McGREW, T. Modernity
and its futures. Cambridge: Polity Press / Open University Press,
A., Cultura, ambiente, desarrollo. Caracas, Universitdad Simon Bolivar/Instituto
de Altos Estudos de America Latina, 1992."
3) "CANCLINI, Nestor Garcia.
Culturas híbridas: estratégias para sair e entrar
da Modernidade. São Paulo: Edusp, 1998."
4) "D'ÁVILA NETO,
M.I. Os 'novos' pobres e o contrato social: receitas de desenvolvimento,
igualdade e solidariedade, seus mitos, laços e utopias. Arquivos
Brasileiros de Psicologia, n. 8, out.-dez. 1998, Rio de Janeiro,