Friday, January 25, 2008

Identifying the core of the new and emergent multicultural society

You have probably heard the expression "I am not from here or there," or in Spanish "no soy de aquí ni soy de allá." The core of the emergent multicultural society in the United States is composed of people who are not from here or from there. Most members of this emergent society, of most cultural minority backgrounds, do not fully share the cultural experience of their heritage, and they do not fully feel part of the traditional "American society." Thus, the cultural ambivalence they experience. It is being in between worlds, and in a synergistic way combining them.

Interestingly when members of these different cultures share the experience of "not being from here or there" they have something in common. It is a sense of being different, or sharing difference. That is what anthropologists (Ruth Hill Useem) have called third culture kids. Third culture because it is not the first culture or second culture that prevail in their minds, but the third culture of the experience of being different and mixing aspects of both.

The richness of the experience of being different appears to be the common denominator of diverse cultural groups in the US. In an interesting way, a country of immigrants has the intrinsic quality of deriving from a "third culture." Perhaps this heritage has been taken for granted in common discourse, and new emergent "minorities" are becoming the core of a new era in which being different is what makes us similar, one more time in history.

Not being from there or from here is perhaps the core of a brave new world.