Culture versus Ethnicity
Over the past year I have been looking into the difference between culture and ethnicity, because culture is the body of knowledge (language, etc) held by a people, both to define itself and to ensure continuity of itself.

In fact, ethnicity does not mean culture, because ethnicity refers to and therefore means nationality. I am aware many assume ethnicity means culture, but assumptions leads to misconceptions, misconceptions lead to misunderstandings and misunderstandings lead to wars, which are not always not fought with physical weapons.

The problem with this more than hundred years of misusing the word ethnicity (aka nationality), is that nationality can be either by race, or culture, or by race and culture. Thus, the word ethnicity tends to confuse race and culture together and such confusion is the root cause of racism, because racism is simply the attribution of cultural behaviour to a specific human race and vice versa.

Furthermore, because of the constant use of the word ethnicity in place of the word culture, this means that culture as a stand alone concept has ceased to exist and has become merely decorative in function, so that the word culture today is misused to mean only being about `arts and crafts`.

Whereas, the culture of a people is the core of that people, and not just fancy decoration, because the culture of a people comes directly from their language, because the reality (or perception of reality) of any people comes directly both from their language and the logic which is integral within that language.

And culture and language have nothing whatsoever to do with race; yes, culture can be associated with race, but it cannot ever be attributed to race.

I make the above points, because until the word ethnicity is recognised as meaning nationality, then race and culture will continue to be confused together and will continue to spread the plague of racism around the world.

in conclusion, the reason why I open this topic in an architectural forum, is because culture is (a) a stand alone concept which neither means race nor nationality, and (b) culture is the cause of any and all creativity, including architectural design.
Frank John Snelling
Culture versus Ethnicity
One of the most interesting features about architecture is that it is the most enduring of all the human arts, particularly when we build with stone, brick or even Sun-dried clay.

Therefore, ancient (and not so ancient) buildings act as messengers and bearers of cultural continuity across time and sometimes across memory. Thus one can call this form of cultural continuity "static", as opposed to the more transitory parts of culture such as language, music, 2D and 3D artwork on perishable products, literature, etc which can be called the "dynamic" form of cultural continuity and being dynamic is subject to both self-evolved change (from within) and to `the winds of change` of change (from outside) including short-term natural disasters and long-term changes in climate, etc.

Therefore thought, speech and language and the physical products of human thought, speech and language are how human cultures are created and recreated and through this process of the continuity of culture, humanity moves along the journey of life, perhaps not along a smooth, flat and level path and perhaps at a snail`s pace, but at least with a degree of self-respect, dignity and humanity.

And yet in this `global village` world of ours, all to many actively seek to disassociate from both (a) the principle of the continuity of human culture and (b) the principle of human culture, principles which enable and sustain human self-respect, dignity and humanity.

In fact, each one of us is the bearer of our own culture and language and through this continuity of human creativity, we will survive. But we (Humanity) will not survive by disrespecting the continuity of our cultures and and disassociating ourselves from our cultures.
Frank John Snelling
Culture versus Ethnicity
Humans are human because of their ability to create cultures and not because of their physical form.
Frank John Snelling
Culture versus Ethnicity
A very interesting arguement and one that I agree with. All too often the two terms get confused and have led to division and partitioning.

Culture is a repository of human experience, including knowledge, myths, stories, and products of human creativity and can be both tangible and intangible.
Shiraz Allibhai
Culture versus Ethnicity
Shiraz, Thank you, I appreciate your support because Humanity needs to move on from being stuck in the muddy and murky waters of mainstream European and Western academic thought in the Victorian Era (100+ years ago).
Frank John Snelling


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