Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Identity and Representation Identity defines how people’s group affiliations (for example, cultural or national identity), as well as individuality are conceptualized and expressed. It is a representation of the distinctive characteristics, either real or perceived, by which any random group or category and all its individual members are known and associated with (Cote & Levine 14)…
It will further highlight the tensions encountered in entering an unfamiliar group and how the values brought in are affected. Some electronic, print and social media have linked Islam and, inevitably, the Arab world to intolerance and violence while ignoring its commonalities to other religions (Cote & Levine 57). Some cultural groups immediately associate the mention of an Arab with negativities such as barbarism, terrorism, religious fanatics, cruelty, oil wars in deserts and belly-dancing women. As an Arab student in the US, where a multicultural philosophy conspicuously prevails in the education system, I was shocked at how different it is with Arabs. Some students are driven into an identity crisis and take frantic measures, some extreme, to adopt or reject the host culture with a risk of ending up in depression. However, I decided not to lose my culture, which is the source of my identity and at the same time not give stereotypes, in contrast to their expectations, a chance to confirm their perceptions. The best way to maintain a positive identity is to preserve my heritage while respecting that of others by fully interacting with them. As a new member of the university society, it is my duty not to let the behaviors, feelings and thoughts of those I interact with be influenced by their wrongly adviced perception of my cultural background. I chose to view the diversity of the American culture as the true source of knowledge, beauty and richness that it is. At the same time, I expect the US Constitution to support the desire of all minorities, including Arabs and Muslims, to conserve their heritage. That will be in accordance to the values upon which the US was built (Leary & Tangney 24). I do not intend to let go of my cultural roots, and I opted for a problem-oriented approach towards the stereotype, rather than an emotion-oriented one as stereotypes would expect. An emotional approach would make me want to “fit into” the American culture and resent anything linking me to my culture. This leads to attempts to attain a culture that I do not belong to, with a possibility of rejecting my own people. Instead, I chose to be proud of my identity and heritage and contribute positively to a country populated with a myriad of cultures. I attend and invite friends to my cultural functions as well as others that are foreign to me. I never point out any negative aspect of other cultures, especially in culturally polarized areas or around people that can be offended by my remarks. I make it my policy to participate, and invite others, to community service whenever time allows. I further realize that an emotion-oriented approach towards an identity representation can lead an individual or a cultural group to create a defense mechanism, albeit unconsciously. They attach themselves fully to their homes or community and vehemently reject everything else not perceived as part of their heritage. Such rejection of outside cultures often culminates into violence, which contributes towards confirmation of the stereotype. Studies have shown that this group even has a tendency of rejecting other Arabs who adopted foreign cultures (Leary & Tangney 31). It is further shown that ...
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She argues that representation does work to construct identities and identities are usually marked through symbols. The construction of identity is both symbolical and social. For example, Woodward argues that more often, the construction of national identity is gendered; however, identity is often marked by differences (Woodward, 1997:10).
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The paper below describes my childhood experiences and their effects on my identity.
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