Friday, May 30, 2008

Cultural identity, personal identity

Cockpit social chat touches on issues of identity.

Chuck: Where you say you were from?

Graham: Auckland, originally.

Chuck: Oakland? I flown in there. California, right?

Graham: Auckland, New Zealand. Auck, as in awk!

Chuck: Place with all the sheep?

Graham: 50 million sheep, 4 million people, yeah, yeah.

Chuck: So, you’re a New Zealander?

Graham: Originally, yes. Haven’t lived there for 30 years. I have difficulty being called a New Zealander. If someone asks me, "What are you?" I can answer, "I fly, I'm a pilot." That's part of my personal identity. But my cultural identity is not Maori. My father was English but I've never lived there so I'm not British.

Chuck: So what are you? Culturally, I mean?

Graham: Been asking myself that for years. Sort of mid-Pacific?

Chuck: Easter Island?

Graham: Closer to Pitcairn.



Graham is one of an increasing number of migrants who have left behind an uncertain cultural identity and not found another.

His personal identity being related to his work might mean that we see strong elements of professionalism in his persona, but fewer enthusiasms for food, music, literature, or other cultural traditions.

The cultural stereotype of New Zealand equaling sheep is one which traveling New Zealanders need to have a ready answer to at any time.



Anonymous said...

Baa huhubug

Barry Natusch said...

Baa as in sheep? Hu as in huhu bug? Sherlock suspects the identity of the commentator has vestiges of an antipodeal origin.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, traveling nz-ders, & I know you have much & vast experience, have great receptivity around the world,(even in oz), much more so than equaling sheep (I think of Noah & his ark; or the tally man on the chain gang?). Probably coz we sport just a little self-denigration, are quick to quip, & ready for most stuff. Wot u reckon? Are Icelanders or Pitcairners similar?