Welcome! This chapter of the 2012 WorldLink Reader serves to inform you of the current issues surrounding aspects of identity and culture. In it, you will find a selection of articles that pertain to the complex notions of identity and culture as they relate to human rights. Culture and identity are two of the most enigmatic concepts I have ever encountered, as they frequently overlap with many other components of life. This makes it difficult to isolate them and examine them closely, much less determine the extent of their role in human rights protection and abuse. Throughout my summer experience with WorldLink, I grappled with pinning them to static, all-inclusive definitions. I found myself asking, “What are culture and identity?” and “How do they relate to me, or the fight for universal human rights?” The following research is the product of my probing and should serve as an introduction for you to determine your own meaning of identity, culture, and human rights.
Before beginning the research process, I had to find a way to compartmentalize my broad topics into not-too-broad, not-too-narrow subtopics. This was not easy. I chose to focus on certain aspects of identity and use them to guide my study of modern-day violations of age-old rights. Needless to say, there are countless other aspects of identity besides the ones I researched, but unfortunately I could not include them all. I also could have organized my research by cultures, but I quickly realized that culture exists on an infinite spectrum. Dividing it into categories would prove to be an impossible task. Culture, I learned, is relative to a person or group of people’s experience and is constantly evolving. With the rise of globalization and the rapid exchange of cultures around the world, the concept of fixed culture is outdated and no longer relevant. Researching according to the more constant aspect of identity was much more effective.
Having come to the end of my journey, I have many hopes for the impact that my work will make in the long run. I hope that by learning about international controversies surrounding culture, identity, and human rights, you take a step closer to unlocking your full capability to create change. I think it is important that the youth understand their role in the context of their communities and the world. I hope that the youth realize their infinite potential to lead, to heal, and to strengthen the dialogue of humankind. The inexplicable call to raise awareness and take action has its roots in the conviction that all people desire, and possess the right, to exercise their natural liberties.
With love and respect,
Rayne Ibarra, San Diego Early Middle College
WorldLink 2011 Summer Intern