I found Joana's views very interesting and valid. Her quote of anthropologist Marshall Sahlins that more often than not, people use foreign objects and ideas to become more like themselves, has particularly struck a familiar note. Here in India, a lot of noise was made about how opening up the skies, so to speak, to cable TV is going to ruin the nations youth; the older generation cluck-clucked about MTV and its eroding effect on our culture.
However today we find the youth very intuitively aware of their Indianness.It is no longer old-fashioned to see Hindi movies or listen to Hindi songs,ethnic fashion is in in a big way, more and more youngsters are religious, family values like love and affection, loyalty, respecting elders, etc are making a resurgence. The biggest money-spinners among Indian movies in the last couple of years have been the ones where large Indian families live together in a warm cocoon, celebrating weddings in a traditional, lavish manner; go about finding a bride or groom in the old accepted manner,where a number of relatives go along to see the prospect; where there is implicit trust in what the elders of the family are deciding for you.
Of course, there is the subtile western influence in all of this-there is no ugliness in this genre of movies. The settings are picture perfect, with lovely homes, enchanting locales,etc.
However the point is that possibly we have been made aware of our identity by seeing other cultures and peoples streaming into our living rooms every day. And possibly we understand that, while belonging to a global culture, we are also intrinsically different,and that we must respect that, while at the same time respecting other peoples. I am a painter, and this analogy comes to mind: I will never know how bright my white is till I place it alongside another colour.