Culture identity, also known as cultural identity, has been at the forefront of many educational discussions in classrooms and at academic conferences. With issues such as terrorism, politics and religious differences overwhelming the media these days, the need for cultural awareness has become more important. With so many different identities to consider, the term "cultural identity" is used more frequently, so awareness of the definition will assist in understanding one's culture identity.

Cultural Identity Definition

Traditional Indonesian dancer teaching tourist to dance

According to WordIQ, cultural identity is the feeling of being included in a group or culture. Culture is defined by attitudes and beliefs and what a person from each culture believes is normal for that group. Since there are many cultures in society, each culture contributes to cultural diversity, creating a "melting pot."

Different Types of Cultural Identity

Close-up of a father and son holding hands facing a crucifix

Cultural identity is not just defined by a group or culture with which you identify. Cultural identity also consists of racial, religious, class, gender, sexuality and familial identities. Additionally, national, social and personal identity also contribute to one's cultural identity, as these properties envelope the entire person, making her who she is.

Problems with Cultural Identity

Woman wearing a burka, close-up

Throughout history, there have been clashes as far as cultural identity is concerned. For example, in early America, Caucasians and Africans co-existed in owner-slave relationships where Africans were viewed as uncivilized. World War II involved the Holocaust where Nazi troupes killed over 6 million Jewish people because the Germans felt they were "racially superior." Both instances involved racial identities, an issue that exists in many communities and nations today. Other issues involve religious and cultural identity, for example, the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland and, as of 2010 in France, the fight to prevent females who follow Muslim beliefs from wearing burkas.

Understanding Cultural Identity

Science teacher showing students how to use microscope

By not accepting cultural identities, people create limited worldviews and perceptions of others. According to Derise Tolliver and Elizabeth J. Tisdell, cultural identity development can "help people withstand oppression and be motivated to support social transformation." One way to work toward understanding cultural identity is to ask and answer questions instead of shying away from issues. Tolliver and Tisdell point out that many "are contemplating the need to be involved in social transformational activities in order to ensure the world will survive." Worldwide, diversity education is entering into the classroom in order to teach tolerance and acceptance.