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FIGT Research Network Affiliate

  • 25 Sep 2020
  • 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
  • Online (via Zoom)

Brain, Culture and Identity: Beyond the Third Culture Kid Paradigm

Date: Friday, September 25, 2020

Time: 90 minutes. 9:00am EDT (New York) / 1:00pm GMT (Accra) / 3:00pm CEST (Vienna) / 9:00pm SGT, AWST (Singapore & Perth)

Location: Online (via Zoom)

Cost: FREE. Open to all. 

What does the brain have to do with culture and identity? The ‘values’ that we hold dear to us and define us are commonly understood as products of social and cultural norms of the specific societies to which we belong. But what if something more universal – such as the biology of the brain and its mechanisms – was the real architect of our values, which in turn direct our behaviour, shape our culture and form our identity?

In the last 30 years, research on human development and behaviour through science and social science disciplines have been converging, giving way to a model for the inner processes that underlie cultural adjustment. The emerging model allows us to look at concepts such as ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ in terms that are linked to the more universal functions of biology—the biology of the brain, to be exact.

Dr Richard Pearce will outline how our values form and operate within the mind, how we use those values in deciding what to like and what to do, and how they make up what we know as ‘culture’. Richard will discuss how our identifications with important people in our lives gives us these values, and how we recall these identifications as we choose what to do, which is why identity is important. 

This is not how we usually see ourselves, but understanding the role of the brain in shaping culture and identity may help us in a practical way to analyse and resolve situations of cultural dissonance and conflicts of judgment. In many ways, it is a justification of present practices rather than a revolution, but it offers a conceptual framework which could have applications to research extending beyond the limits of the traditional Third Culture Kid paradigm.

This seminar will be hosted by Dr Danau Tanu, Co-Chair of the FIGT Research Network.

Richard Pearce, PhD, is British, and has worked in the UK and the USA and researched in the Netherlands. At the International School of London his roles included Director of Admissions. Though he was trained as a biologist, this close contact with mobile parents led to his doctoral research through the University of Bath on how mobile children adjust. Richard now writes and lectures on International Education, Culture and Identity seen through the lens of Cross-Cultural Psychology. He is the editor of the book, International Education and Schools: Moving Beyond the First 40 Years, and has contributed to Migration, Diversity, and Education: Beyond Third Culture Kids.

Danau Tanu, PhD, is the author of Growing Up in Transit: The Politics of Belonging at an International School, the first book on structural racism in international schools and a contributing author to Writing Out of Limbo: International Childhoods, Global Nomads and Third Culture Kids. She is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Social Sciences of the University of Western Australia and was recently awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the Japan Foundation to commence at Waseda University in 2021. Danau has published ethnographic studies on Third Culture Kids and mixed-race identities. She is a Co-Chair of the FIGT Research Network and Co-Founder of TCKs of Asia.

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