The topic which questions differentaspects of my life and how it has transformed me into the person I am today isone I actually find myself coming back to often, and each time it gets harderto pinpoint exactly what it is.
So what makes this essay difficult tocomprehend upon, is the process of making a narrative for those who areinterested in having a prospect on the world from a different point of view andputting into light matters that may be brushed to the side. The notion of the individualityis perhaps one of the most basic foundations of culture. This also brings tothe light the definition of culture which I will be using; Geertz’s (1973) definitionof culture. Geertz defines culture as “a system of inherited conceptionsexpressed in symbolic forms by means of which people communicate, perpetuate,and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life” (Geertz, 1973, p.89). Other narrative theorists agree that the “cultural self” is derived from memorymodels (Nelson, 2004, p.
87). I agree that narratives about the self areculturally positioned and to simply put it, “‘my story’ can never be whollymine, alone, because I define and articulate my existence with and amongothers” (Freeman, 2001, p. 287). There are many aspects in which I could touchupon within my life which I believe that has shaped me, but I want to focus ona main theme which is ‘othering’. Within my autobiographical essay, I touchupon topics of racism, sexism and labelling in accordance with ‘othering’ andhow this has shaped me to be the person I am today.
In other words, if I wereto dig much deeper into it, I would view myself through the experiences and throughthe people who have played a role in my life. Through this idea, it helps toexplain my self-concept as I consider this essay as transformative for meprovided I have theorised many aspects of my identity along with it. The exposure of my personal lifeand experience for the consumption of the public readers is not what I am usedto; I would describe myself to be very reserved in what I choose to touch upon.The main reason as to why I am very hesitant in putting out my experiences isbecause my actions, even if it’s something I have no control over, has alwayscome under scrutiny no matter who it is. Other girls’ voices within thefriendship group were consequently hushed and at times even silenced dependingon their position within the group, sometimes under the instruction of the’popular girl leader’. (R.
George, 2007). I agree with this as I haveexperienced the power discourse within the playground between girls, howeveranother thought that comes to mind is that the process of ‘othering’ could nothave just come about into these kids’ minds. We believe that a child’s firstbase in terms of interactions is within the family context and our socialidentities are constructed through interactions with others- as humans we areable to reflect and change in accordance to these social exchanges(Herbert-Mead, 1934). Mead’s works have shown that we may change our imagebased on our interactions in regards to these interactions- also known as thelooking glass self. Unfortunately, this issue has not been addressedadequately as the process of ‘othering’ rather points towards a deeper process,which points to the initial socialisation of a child.Bauman sees our identities set upthrough the notion of otherness, which is vital to the way societies agree uponcategories of identities (Bauman, 1993), he uses the example of the ‘other’being diametrically opposite to oneself or a stranger (Bauman, 1998). However,Jenkins differs in his view as he says.
“A group is a self-consciouscollectivity, rooted in processes of internal definition and while a categoryis external defined.” (Jenkins, 2011, p54) This means that in terms ofethnicity there will be an open door for othering to take place, because aninternal definition is based on one’s own meaning of their social identity. Whereasthe process of external definition means that someone outside of thisindividual sphere is attaching a definition (Jenkins, 2011, p53)So in essence, a group isinternally defined, but a category is externally defined. A group is defined byits size as it is the build-up of individuals who are mindful of the culturalvalues of their own group. However, a category is more comprehensive in itsexternal definition as it more made up of people with the power to give a nameto social relation for example; scientists (Jenkins, 2011). I believe that thisexperience has shaped an aspect of my personality today because as people, weseem to assign meaning to the world through oppositions.
I tend to see myselffrom the ‘other’s’ perspective and I know that this has some negativeconsequences upon me because there will always be something that I am comparingmyself with. I have seen significant changes in myself as I am always trying tobe a perfectionist and I often aim to blur the distinction between myself andthe other, through experience, being ‘othered’ in a negative way especiallyduring childhood, is not a good feeling. As Hall stated; ‘identities are the names we give to thedifferent ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, thenarratives of the past’ (S. Hall, 1996). My identity as it is in the presenttense, is different in regards to my identity in the past and will probablychange further on in the future. My thirst to know more about the struggle ofmy country has shaped my identity because it may be that I am aware about ahistorical moment of trauma and oppression, making me much more empathetictowards my culture. This is because society is constantly going through changein which security and stability of cultures in society is being threatened(Giddens 1984: 41-92), which makes it important to me to understand my culturalroots.