Rethinking change in culture

Is ‘change’ a challenge in preserving our ‘culture’ or our ‘identity’? Many of us have heard the slogan ‘our culture is our identity’ in varied surroundings. Now an introspect is needed on the ambiguity of this generalized perspective. Culture is dynamic and its change is inevitable, histories of great civilisations share testimonies of the changes in the growth of their culture. While the slogan has more inclination to the idea that culture is static rather than dynamic. Changes through modernization are considered an antithesis of this essential entity. Cultural changes are happening in order to fit into the overall change in lifestyle. It is impossible to go back into our cultural shells. The looming anxieties of losing one’s cultural identity can be mitigated by being aware that modernization, albeit bringing certain changes, has made some cultural aspects more resilient. This resilience can be evident from the grand celebration of our local festivals, an emphasis on displaying tribal artifacts in our living rooms, the systematization of the indigenous faith, the rise of tribal cuisine restaurants, movies and songs made on the nostalgia of tales from our ancestors, books popularizing stories that remain ingrained into our generational narratives and many more of instances of resiliencies. Thus, it can be understood that modernization to an extent has helped in the propagation of certain aspects of our traditions.
Culture can be considered a living organism that sheds away its characters that aren’t needed anymore and embraces new elements that help it prosper. This organic analogy of culture can be well perceived in the present time when centuries of isolation of our civilization have gradually ended and when the abrupt introduction of modernization has accelerated many changes. Such changes have always been central in the academic discourse of social sciences. The theory of Darwinian evolutionary biology, which can be described as the changes among the successive generations that tend to benefit for its survival, has been employed in understanding society termed as ‘Cultural Evolution’, which is fundamentally just the changes of culture over time. It can be said that all cultures will be different in the future with changes in literacy, technological advancement, economic development, demography etc. But they will remain unique in their own identity, and the similarities in the external attributes wouldn’t significantly impact the traditional values to a great extent. Can we remain pessimistic about our cultural future? We can expect that our culture will not be dead but will mould into a different form than its past and remain distinct from other cultures.
Taba Menia