Name Date Professor Course Section/# The Stranger as a Construct of Biases: Understanding Sara Ahmed’s Piece Through the Lens the Use of Stereotypes, Racism, Ageism, Sexism, and other Preconceptions A strange is not just someone we do not know – it is oftentimes a “type” that we have categorized all too well and have perhaps “known” before…
Whereas one can easily recognize their neighbor as someone that fits invariably into their everyday life, the individual by means of stereotyping/judgment can equally judge an “unknown” individual/stranger as a type of individual that they have categorized as a certain type to be avoided. Ahmed notes in her opening paragraph concerning the initial thoughts that go through the mind of the perceiver when faced with a stranger: “I know you but I don’t want to know you quote” (Ahmed, 21). “The stranger then is not simply the one we have not encountered – but the one we have encountered and who we have already faced (Ahmed, 21) Thus the term stranger begins to lose a great deal of its conventional meaning and begins to have a second life as a definition of a way in which humans work to compartmentalize their lives. As such, Ahmed further relates that “strangers” are those individuals that do not fit into the compartmentalized realities that we construct around us; thus, since they do not fit, we shun and avoid them and provide them with an “alien” name to denote the fact that they do not belong to our given construct. For purposes of this analysis, this author has selected the area in and around the first apartment I resided while a university student. Due to the fact that the apartment building was primarily housing for college students, the understanding of what was “other” and what was a “stranger” as defined by Ahmed was quite the simple task. In this way, a type of ageism was applied to those that did not fit in and around the area. Oftentimes, what we would deem “unsavory” people would frequent the area in and around the apartment buildings in an attempt to panhandle the youths due to the fact that they invariably found their naivety an easy target to generate money. Understandably, the student-friendly housing offered student-friendly pricing and was therefore located directly in between what could be considered a nice part of town and a very economically depressed part of town. In much the same way, Ahmed notes: “To recognize means to know again, to acknowledge and to admit. How do we know the stranger again? The recognisability of strangers is determinate in the social demarcation of spaces of belonging: the stranger is ‘known again’ as something that has already contaminated such spaces as a threat to both property and person” (Ahmed, 22). It is difficult to say if this human classification of “other” is a net good or a net evil due to the fact that in many ways it works as a self defense mechanism to keep us safe from “perceived” harm; however, at the same time, it puts our ingrained biases with relation to age, gender, spatialism, and racism to the forefront of our judgment. This is an interesting dichotomy not only because it forces young students to face the realities of those less fortunate and develop their own defense mechanisms with respect to how they chose to interact with this foreign and unfamiliar subculture; but in that all of this was taking place during the formative college years. This dichotomy is of extreme interest due to the fact that these formative years are supposed to be very years in which young people are supposed to be the most open minded and suppliant to differing lifestyles as well as ...
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