Archive for April, 2005

Identity – say it with capital letters

Monday, April 4th, 2005

Last night I was asked the epic question, “so, what are you studying?” This is the slightly less threatening form of the question “what are you majoring in?” Since my school doesn’t have majors, we victims of progressive education are forced to make up our own titles. So I replied “I’m studying Racial Identity Politics.” I like to say it with capital letters. And then, depending on who the person is I will add “and Theater” or “and Performance” or “and I build puppets.” These statements fall on a continum based on how likely I think the person is to follow this with the question “What do you want to do with that?” That is the question of the decade.

My interest in identity politics has existed for a while, but only really recently did I find an operational definition of “Identity.” Since I found it to be useful, I wanted to share it.

Identity is:
– Situational (based on circumstances, example time and place, which can change)
– multiple (I am both a woman and a white person)
– both self ascription and what others ascribe to you
– a relationship of self and other

I will probably add to this as I go, but so far this is what I’ve got. Then there is this quote from a book by Pamela Perry:

Identity is that by which we define ourselves, a name we call “home,” even if only temporarily or strategically.

so… chew that over.