Your culture is not the Norm

As an imagined collective, a visceral peculiarity, culture continuously transports individuals between belonging and othering. Flitting between man-made constructs, one might find themselves amidst negotiations of what makes them who they are and whom they are perceived to be. The blending and colliding of cultural hybridity contributes to the disintegration of cultural norms ostensibly tied to caste, geography, accents and creed to name a few. 

How we identify, describe and use culture as a definitive tool for comparison is complex. If culture is to be used to account for differences, we might only be able to draw conclusions when a particular feature is an essential attribute and is displayed by all members of a so called ‘group’. Other than viewing culture as a way of life, can it also be perceived as a fluid symbolic exchange between people and their social environment? As a dynamic and very much alive phenomenon undergoing perpetual transformation, the resulting diasporic narrative leads to a somewhat dizzying inquiry. Yet surely, culture facilitates communication, all the while provoking the creation of new meanings, a process moulded by individuals through time and space. 

The unravelling of the “Nepali” tapestry is not a simple feat; whether seeped in the slanting of eyes, the tall bridge of a nose, elders’ dietary choices, an enforced language, or the oft omitted maternal lineage. Dare we prod at uncomfortable ideas? What are the norms your culture asks of you? Do you comply? A chaotic collision of manifold lenses, this dialogue, is an attempt at doing just this. Disentangling culture, transcending rigid demarcations of what it means to belong, this zine is a collaborative effort, born out of conversations and reflection.

- Divya D. Gurung

Divya is an educator, neurodiversity advocate, and community organizer, crafting inclusive spaces for Nepali youth, and families of children with disabilities in Hong Kong. Traversing between Nepal and Hong Kong and shifting between belonging and othering, Divya Gurung explores her multi-generational diasporic narrative, probing a negotiation of norms and identity.

Refreshments were prepared by Pimbahal Fresh Potato Chips Center and 
Sancha Maya Lama.

Image credit: Samridhi Karmacharya, Amshad Sunuwar, Ankeeta Manandhar, Shreemila Shrestha, Aastha Chemjong and Mitra
July 9, 2023


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