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Blog // Thoughts
June 26, 2006

Third Culture Kids

This morning in a local bookstore I was thumbing through a copy of Third Culture Kids, a book I have seen reviewed a few times and which I suspect will soon end up on my bookcase. Actually I don’t have a bookcase at the moment, since both the cases and the books are in storage. […]

This morning in a local bookstore I was thumbing through a copy of Third Culture Kids, a book I have seen reviewed a few times and which I suspect will soon end up on my bookcase. Actually I don’t have a bookcase at the moment, since both the cases and the books are in storage. What I do have is a nice little coffee table with a small pile of books on it, I guess it will end up there.

The term third culture kids refers to children who have grown up in a culture that is not that of their parents. Their culture is actually an amalgam of their parents culture and their host culture, even though they never fully participate in either. The idea interests me because my daughter is clearly a third culture kid. She has an Australian passport but has never lived in that country, having been born in the UK and spent most of her life in India. She is now in Hong Kong looking forward to attending a Canadian International School. My Thailand Diary blogs a number of interesting third culture issues that I can see in my my daughter as she dealins the loss of her Indian “age” even though that was not her home culture and the third culture issues she will face in the future as she explains her upbringing.

Moreover, I’m interested in thinking about the third culture phenomenon because it is my biography as well. The older I get the harder it becomes to answer the “where do I come from questions” and the more impatient I become with being shoe-horned into simplistic cultural stereotypes.

But finally I am interested in this because there is a missiological-outsider element involved. Singer Sinaa’s Third Culture blogpost reminds us that the idea of third-culture-thinking implies the marginal role of the missionary. I’ve long felt that the third culture distance, the marginal perspective, heck even the Flaneur approach are essential to theology and culture, to truly missional thinking.

To me that is the big difference between christendom thinking and missional thinking. In christendom, identity is fixed and theological discourse in cultural central. In missional thinking, identity is fluid and theological discourse is disruptive and culturally marginal. The theology of a missional approach is a theology of cultural negotiation.

I will return to this topic in future, it seems like a rich stream to dive into.

[tags] Third Culture Kids, Missional, Christendom [/tags]

Responses

my copy arrived a few weeks ago and i am lookiung forward to reading it

Toni 16 years ago

I sounds like putting patterns on something that isn’t quite as clearly structured and patterned like that, although that’s how people often study things. I’ll be interested to watch though, as a third-cultured kid myself.

Robin 16 years ago

I grew up as a third culture kid and I found this book quite helpful. I could understand why my social life was as frustrating as it was. Read it for your daughter so that you can understand her more.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Robin – thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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