2nd identity paper

2nd identity paper - W ill Cliff 2/17/10 World Arts and...

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Will Cliff 2/17/10 World Arts and Cultures 20 Professor Cosentino Prompt 1: How do Cultures ascribe definition of gender and race to the human body? Using articles “Black Hair-Style Politics,” “Womb as Oasis,” and “Material Girl,” compare and contrast how the cultures described by these authors use the human body to define racial politics in the US , as well as various notions of femininity in Northern Sudan , and American post-modern culture . To what extent are members of these cultures free to choose their own identities , and to what extent are identities prescribed by their cultures ? All over the United States, and the greater world, nations and societies are coined with the term freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of the idea that we live in a society where you can be who you want to be and live the life you want to live. Over the majority of the planet, freedom seems to be established as a natural human right. This overuse of the term freedom has most likely stemmed from the establishment of democracies—the government for the people. But looking beneath the surface, there are many pressures that have come about in societies around the world. Pressures have emerged from the media, from our own history, and from society itself. Examining the topic more thoroughly raises questions on how free we truly are. Do we each individually possess the power of individual freedom regardless of societal pressures? According to articles presented by Kobena Mercer, Janice Boddy, and Susan Bordo; cultures greatly influence the formation of our individual identities so that we naturally conform to the mass identity of the particular culture we were born into. Kobena Mercer’s article “Black Hair-Style Politics” analyzes the efforts of African-Americans to create their own identity as a minority group in the United States during the 20 th century. In a time when blacks were not
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represented politically, they found a way to produce a sense of self and find a sense of power as a people through style, language, and the arts. Hair-styles that were considered to be “natural” to the black population—Afros and Dreadlocks for example—became extremely prevalent in the black community and were worn with a sense of pride. Hair, being very easy to change its direction and size, became politicized through being an “ethnic signifier.” Mercer writes, “all black hair-styles are political in that they articulate responses to the panoply of historical forces which have invested this element of the ethnic signifier with both personal and political ‘meaning’ and
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2nd identity paper - W ill Cliff 2/17/10 World Arts and...

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