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Most people still think of themselves as belonging to a particular culture. Yet today, many of us who live in affluent societies choose aspects of our lives from a global cultural supermarket, whether in terms of food, the arts or spiritual beliefs. So if roots are becoming simply one more consumer choice, can we still claim to possess a fundamental cultural identity? Global Culture/Individual Identity focuses on three groups for whom the tension between a particular national culture and the global cultural supermarket is especially acute: Japanese artists, American religious seekers and Hong Kong intellectuals after the handover to China. These ethnographic case studies form the basis for a theory of culture which we can all see reflected in our own lives. Gordon Mathews opens up the complex and debated topics of globalization, culture and identity in a clear and lively style. His book will be illuminating and valuable for social and cultural anthropologists, their students, as well as more general readers.
Gordon Mathews is associate professor of anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is also the author of What Makes Life Worth Living? How Japanese and Americans Make Sense of Their Worlds.