April 2024 EYP Article

April 9, 2024

The Rise of Culturalism

By Genie H, a volunteer with the Edgemont Youth Press

Have you ever considered what makes you, you? For many, the answer would vary depending on particular viewpoints. Scientifically, it would be your atoms and DNA sequence. Psychologically, your past experiences, childhood memories, and interactions form crucial components of you as an individual. What role exactly does culture play in distinguishing the unique differences between people? Or is it even a differentiator? A culture does not consist of solely one person—rather it is shared among a great group of people. Would it be fair to say then, that culture is merely a representation of collective identity? These are all questions that continue to be explored upon in our quest for finding identity.

Culturalism is a culture-centric ideology, and we are beginning to see a rise in the trend of appreciation for differing cultures. Some would argue that it is easier now than ever to get involved in your culture and realize this aspect of your identity due to increased awareness. On February 9th and 10th, for example, the Annual Ethnik Festival of Arts and Culture took a key part in celebrating Black History Month (February) and Zero Discrimination Day (March 1). As we approach the International Day of Happiness (March 20), it would be empowering to see heightened curiosity in becoming a more accepting community, embracing all cultures and identities. 

It is inspiring to witness how, on many fronts, people from diverse backgrounds are emerging into various fields. In the performing arts, there evidently has been a rise in the sharing of more traditional works—one’s audience members would not otherwise have actively sought out. Certain forms of historical styles, such as dancing, have been making recent reappearances. For instance, Unganisha dancing (meaning connection in Swahili) has been gaining more attention through performances, promoting the universal language of dance. This upward spiral of culture-based events introduces people to cultures they are less acquainted with, especially kids of younger ages.

Additionally, we are seeing historical styles being integrated into more modern programs, leading to artistic evolution. The Calgary Youth Orchestra latterly performed a concert revolving around Black composers. We see communities incorporating diversity in their programs, deepening people’s appreciation for contrasting cultures. Stimulating a newfound spark in people to get to learn more about others within their community, incorporating culture in the arts is a wonderful way to share and celebrate history.

Ultimately, the crucial component to getting to know both yourself and others is the ability to do so through the building of healthy human connections. These connections stem from having an open mindset towards things you are unfamiliar with, and we should all be encouraged to respect differences amongst ourselves. Take a moment to consider how lucky we truly are—to be able to call such a diverse and vibrant place home. We have the privilege of interacting with and learning more about so many other cultures, developing new relationships, and broadening our individual worldviews.