Individual Identity and Cultural Relativism

“New kinds of technological interfaces will have in the future, an impact on our understanding of what is an individual self. So much of what we already can do with technology takes place outside the individual body… As synthetic biology moves ahead there will be other things which will be there in the world which are derivatives of us but are not within the boundary of the human body. So what it is to be biologically human is moving out into the world in ways we could not have foreseen generations before. Some people argue that it is at this moment in history when this is changing faster than ever before…”

In this interview with Counterpoint, a think-tank of the British Council, Henrietta L. Moore discusses her views on how anthropologists can best understand different cultures. What are the potential benefits and limitations of cultural relativism? How can psychoanalytic approaches enhance and enrich understanding? What is the impact of culture and technology on individual identity? Finally, how is one to interpret the current moment of cultural change? Are apocalyptic narratives of ‘mcdonaldisation’, ‘starbucksisation’ and homogenization justified?

Listen to the podcast on the BC Counterpoint website: