Living in New York City is like living in a Global Village. Those who don’t attach much value to the concept of a homemade meal the city offers lot of choice in terms of culinary diversity. We can start off with a solid American breakfast in McDonald’s follow it up with a slice of Pizza at a local Italian Pizzeria for lunch and end it with a Mexican takeout form the Mexican Restaurant Chilies for dinner not forgetting about the French Macaron’s and Columbian coffee on offer a stone’s throw away from work. Every one living in big global cities can rework this scenario applying to their regular daily routine. Moreover The American Mosaic though presenting an American Identity has given leeway to all its citizens to identify with their cultural heritage and identity. The Parades in New York City ranging from Caribbean parade to the St Patrick’s parade and Indian Independence day parade give voice and the chance to showcase their cultural splendor to all the immigrant communities in New York. Life in the new millennium offers such cultural diversity in that we no longer see ourselves rooted in our own cultural identity and see the world through the lenses of multiculturalism and cultural pluralism.
Talking about cultural identity is there a barometer which measures our degree of cultural sensitivity Vis a Vis other cultures. Do we all take our culture too seriously and look down upon anything alien to our cultural beliefs. To a certain extent our locus of existence in reference to the world map has much to do with our perception of our cultural identity. Someone living in a Alpha world city with a lot of overlapping cultures and interacting with a cross section of people from different cultural identities will be far less myopic than a easy going commoner in a remote village country side of rural Bolivia. The life style in an Alpha city offers multi culturalism and cultural pluralism because of the trickledown effect of cultural diffusion bringing into focus two contrasting cultural perceptions Ethnocentrism and Xenocentrism.Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture. Ethnocentric individuals judge other groups relative to their own ethnic group or culture, especially with concern for language, behavior, customs, and religion. On the Other hand Xenocentrism is the preference for the products, styles, or ideas of someone else’s culture rather than of one’s own. – Wikipedia
I myself living in a global city had experienced the variants of ethnocentric and xenocentric behavior where once a gentleman with Italian Ancestry with whom I was engaged in a small talk in restaurant made a proud statement that Italian Cuisine is the best cuisine in the world. I did not vociferously disagree and admired the gentleman’s inherent cultural bias and his ethnocentric belief. Adding more to the discussion consumer habits have more to do with the tenets of XenoCentrism a case where some American car buyers don’t give undue preference for owning an American Car and put a premium on owning a German BMW or the Mercedes. Interestingly I heard a story of a Korean friend of mine long time back who was worried how his parents would react if he bought a Japanese car! A worry rooted in a negative Xenocentric Thought.
Now that a case has been made to explain both the Ethno and XenoCentric views I argue for cultural integration where all the good ideas from different cultures are promoted leaving little room for interpretation slightly deviating from a cultural relativists argument where what is bad in one culture might not be that bad color coding the inherent negative traits of some cultures in a relative and positive context.