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What is Othering?

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Anna Whateley

on 21 August 2016

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Transcript of What is Othering?

What is Othering?
Who is the Other?
How do we Other someone?

Are you us? Or Them?
We or They?
'We' don't do things that way here.
What do 'we' mean by values?
'Our' way of life
Just not like 'us'.
Them / they
These statements create
social norms. They call to you
or interpellate you. Or they don't. If you identify or respond, you are normal, if not, you are Othered.

The default person is white, straight, middle class and male.
Binary Oppositions
us / them
we / they

white / black
male / female
rich / poor
able / disabled
youth / old age
West / East

access to power,
rights, and
marginalised, feared, less access to rights, education and power
To figure out who is them, and who is us, let's look at binary oppositions...
The Centre
Middle class
Working class
Working class
Lower class
Power is bestowed by
the centre (or wrested from),
and lessens as you move outward.

Those binaries are how people are seen by society, in the most simple terms. People have decreasing access to power the further they are from the centre, or privileged position, made up from the left hand column of binary oppositions.
So...... Othering is:

the process of cementing those binaries, and pushing people away from the centre.
Defining one thing by what it is not, or a person by who they are not.
The effects of Othering - the children have enacted the list of binary opposites in descriptions of the white/black dolls. How does this happen? Through the social constructions of humans in popular culture, literature, government legislation, education, images, music videos, social media, peoples' reactions on the street....
What are people doing about it?
Trying to stop the process of Othering by being inclusive and non-discriminatory in their language, legislation, employment, education, productions, and through equity.
Writing back to the Centre by giving voice to silenced peoples through literature
and so many other titles..

'They' can't help being like that.
'They' are born that way..
'They' don't have a choice...
'Those' kinds of people always...
Us, we...
They, them, those people
The Other is the "object" of study, voiceless, and relies on the Centre to be allowed in. Feminism tries to address the Othering of women, Post-Colonialism addresses the Othering of ethnic groups, etc...
This is is beginning to work, but has a long way to go before equality can be declared.
In 2014, only 164 phds were held by Indigenous Australians. That's 0.4%. This means that on the whole, policy, education, research and government is dominated by non-Indigenous people, creating an almost voiceless population.

Othering – The philosophical concept that the “self” requires an “Other” to establish and insure its own existence.

Edward Said (1935-2003) -Othering produces and stabilizes race and dominance. Othering is a process through which groups, such as nation states, wield power. Said examines how Othering was done by western societies toward those people in the 'Orient' [meaning the East particularly Middle-Easterners, Arabs and Palestinians] for the purpose of colonization and building empire. According to Said, Othering as a process, often involves the demonization and dehumanization of groups, which further justifies attempts to “civilize” and exploit these 'inferior' Others. Said’s work examines Othering as the most economical (read: easy, lazy, crude) process through which to produce and stabilize race and racial dominance.
Said quote from 1980: “So far as the United States seems to be concerned, it is only a slight overstatement to say that Moslems and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists. Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Muslim life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Arab world. What we have instead is a series of crude, essentialized caricatures of the Islamic world presented in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression.”
more detailed quotation, if you are up for it... zoom in :)
But let's step back a bit... who are we again?
Who is viewing? Who's gaze are we looking through? Check out these ads..
selling clothing to women?
selling food/drinks to men?
Most images in advertising are of white women (under male gaze). When do we see (O)ther people?
Kinds of Other?
The pitiable Other
The exotic Other
The exotic/erotic Other
The feared Other
Shaw, 2009
Hegemonic masculinity can clearly be seen if/when men do appear in advertisements
This ad plays with the expectations of the exotic/erotic Other...
Othering: Coined by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, it is “a process by which the empire can define itself against those it colonizes, excludes and marginalizes. […] The business of creating the enemy…in order that the empire might define itself by its geographical and racial others” (171, 173).
So the next time you say "they" or "we" remember what that means.

Remember that there are likely to be people in the room who are "they" but are now less likely to speak for themselves, because "they" have been Othered.
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