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Belonging: Diasporic identity within the homogeneous city

Part 1 Dissertation 2015
Jane Taylor
University of Plymouth | UK
Our urban surroundings have emerged over time as a product of our social and cultural practices. These practices are increasingly diverse; resulting in cosmopolitan and multicultural environments. Globalisation of these urban environments could be assumed to provoke displacement of identification with pre-existing local culture. This exploration of cultural diaspora investigates the erasure of traditional identity by a multicultural society, and questions a resultant hegemonic modernity.

Through research of existing theoretical discourse, the heterogeneity of modern urban environments is applied to the concepts of individual identity and belonging. These two key parameters define whether we consider ourselves to be at 'home', and are used to identify whether individuals truly belong to their local socio-cultural environment.

In order to explore cultural erasure, the seemingly generic city of Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) forms a case study which investigates the presence of traditional culture. Within the cultural hybridity of this postcolonial environment, Aboriginal identity appears visibly marginalised. The process of understanding the underlying spiritual culture of aboriginal society instigates discussion regarding the importance of visible representations of local culture.

This exploration of cultural representation discovers a need for authentic identification with the cultural character of our environment, and the meaningfulness of belonging within a social landscape.

Jane Taylor

Katharine Willis
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