Originally written on March 29, 2010

I have been contemplating my own cultural identity as of late and would like to explore exactly what it is that makes me, or anyone else for that matter, unique from anyone else in the world. I was born and have always lived in the United States. Does that in and of itself represent any sort of cultural significance? I have lived in several states in various regions of the United States. Do these particular regions offer one a unique cultural experience different from any other region or state? I am of mostly Irish-Catholic heritage, have relatives still in Ireland, yet have never been to Ireland and experienced what is unique to their culture. Does that play any role whatsoever in my own cultural schema?

To some extent, I identify myself as “Irish” and would like to think that makes me unique in some ways to someone in the United States who identifies with their Italian, or Polish, or Greek heritage? At the same time, Ireland is overwhelmingly Catholic, a religion that I disassociated myself with many years ago. Is that a subculture in and of itself: anti-catholic Irish Catholic? Perhaps I’m just another middle-aged white American, but is that a distinctive cultural identity in itself? Most white Americans think of Americans of African descent as having a unique cultural bond simply because of color and the uglier aspects of American history, although race is entirely a social construct. We are all inherently human and identical in biological function regardless of nationality or skin tone.

I spent the majority of my youth in Laramie, Wyoming. Some would argue that this is culturally unique considering the so-called “wild west” mindset of those who live there and embrace the cowboy imagery of freedom and open spaces. It is true that my experiences in Wyoming were unique than the experiences of another person growing up in another part of the country or world. I lived in the central Midwest for a number of years, in constant contact with my relatives who are farmers. I have lived in the Northeast for a number of years as well, and there are customs that are somewhat unique to that region. But does any of this actually represent what one would call culture? My conclusion is that culture is simply the accumulation of the places we have been, the people we have met, the customs and beliefs we have developed because of these unique individual experiences. Culture is simply what one wants to make of it based on their own schema of the world in which they observe. I am an Irish-American-Western-Cornbread-East Coast elitist; yet I am still just human and still the same and unique as anyone else.