Finding ‘home’ in an instantaneous, interconnected and interdependent world.
When someone asks ‘where you’re from’ you should be able to answer it without thinking twice right? But when I get asked, I go into panic mode. Do they want to know my cultural background? My nationality? Or do they simply want to know where I live or perhaps once lived? So before I answer with “Well… I’m 1/8th Spanish, 3/8ths Filipino and 1/2 Australian, my nationality is Australian (because my passport says so) and I’m from a small village you’ve probably never heard of but I was born in a small town down the coast” lets take a look at why such a simple question can lead to not so simple answers.
Appadurai in his text Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalisation (1996), looks at five central dimensions of global cultural flows: ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, financescapes and ideoscapes. The one we want to focus on is ethnoscapes, which quite simply is the landscape of the people who constitute the “shifting world in which we live” (the flow of people across nations). More and more people, whether by choice or not, are moving from one place to another and technology is making it all too easy. In fact 220 million people in the world are living in countries that are not their own.
Writer Pico Iyer says that people spend their whole lives taking many pieces from around the world (much assisted through the ideologies and influences of the media which of course expose us to the worlds we haven’t been to) and use this opportunity to create our own sense of ‘home’. With three or four possible ‘origins’ himself, Iyer questions whether he’s Indian (his nationality), English (where he grew up) American (where he pays taxes) or possibly Japanese (where you spend or hope to spend most of your time).
So while I live in Australia, travel back and forth to the Philippines, go on the occasional eye opening holiday and on a daily basis am exposed to an endless amount of cultural influences from across the globe, deciding what I value and who I want to be sounds like one long, ever changing and unpredictable task – looks like the concept of globalisation is not as simple as it seems.
Why are there fears of homogenisation when it seems we’re becoming more diverse than ever?
While there is no direct answer to the age old question of where you’re from, Iyer stresses that it is not so much where you come from but where you’re going (a little cheesy I know but true). While one’s roots (as complicated as they may or not be) are important it is also important to embrace the diverse ethnoscape of the multicultural world rather than focus on such structural representations of who and what we are.
Benetton seems to think so.