a203-11f-17-IdentityRitesOfPassage

These categories communicate your desired identity to

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- these categories communicate your desired identity to others - some aspects of identity are determined by others - how others classify you - how others react to your performance of the culturally constructed roles - other people’s responses affect your own perception of yourself - if people say you are smart, or act like you are attractive, you will start to feel that is part of your identity - if they react negatively to you, - you may incorporate that into your identity, - or resist it by changing how you present yourself - your identity is created by a feedback between the cultural cues you present and how people respond to them - Identity usually involves - gender - we will look at gender more carefully next time - social race (in many, but not all, societies)
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Intro to Cultural Anthro F 2011 / Owen: Constructing identity… p. 5 - as we have discussed a bit before - ethnicity - another socially constructed identity category - kinship, birth or descent - as in the Indian caste system, where people are (were) born into certain groups with specified roles - or any society where some families are wealthier than others, more politically connected than others, etc. - Rockefellers, Kennedys, Hatfields or McCoys; etc. - Hatfields and McCoys were two extended families in Kentucky and West Virginia - Had a famous, long-term feud from 1878 to 1891 (13 years) - Started with McCoys fighting for the Union and Hatfields for the Confederates; disputes over land, theft of a pig, led to a murder; then conflict over a woman, - eventually arrests, then a night massacre, then more arrests, trials, and an execution: 9 killed overall, plus 1 hung - identity as a Hatfield or a McCoy in those years was a life or death matter - age - you treat people differently depending on their age - age: child, teenager, young adult, middle-aged, elderly… - when born: “baby boomers” vs. “Generation X”, etc. - many African cultures have explicit “ age sets - every male born in a certain range of several years is a member of a given “age set” - members of the same age set feel solidarity with each other, connectedness, share similar experiences, tend to support each other, etc. - Some aspects of identity are genuinely individual - personality, abilities, interests, idiosyncrasies - but many aspects of identity involve membership in existing cultural categories (part of Robbins’ “identity toolbox”) - these categories themselves are not “out there”, but are culturally constructed - our culture arbitrarily specifies that certain features are appropriate to use in categorizing people’s identity, - and arbitrarily defines others as irrelevant to identity - for example, we arbitrarily do not typically categorize people by - right or left handedness - yet in medieval France, lefthandedness supposedly indicated that one was a witch – an identity with severe consequences!
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