By Avan Omar
If we imagine ourselves as directors observing the theatre of daily life, Erven Goffman argues, in his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, that this is a specific form of social interaction. Goffman studied social interaction in terms of theatrical performance. The social encounter is a meeting where a wide range of different reactions and interactions may emerge. As in our contemporary time of multiculturalism and globalisation with race and ethnicity in the public conversation, they continue to play an important role in the process of defining cultures and identities. Stereotyping is certainly not something of the past but still vivid and having an impact on people’s behaviour, the relation between subject/other and the relation of that influence by stereotype of an individual behaviour and interaction in the process of subjectification in everyday life. Goffman makes the case that in every situation people have a certain way of presenting themselves as if they were on a stage. One appears to others through their behaviour. They can apply different techniques in order to control the expectations formed by them. Applied more broadly, it is possible to see this notion in connection to the constructed societal hierarchies that underlie racial stereotyping. Thus, the stereotype of the immigrant and the West host society have made a wide range of characters and different reactions to deal with the fixed image that is drawn throughout the history for a people in colour.
Multicultural cities are sites of multiple encounters between various groups. the mediums of recognition, particularly visual appearance, have powerful effects and are difficult obstacles to negotiate. I see this process of recognition as a constant struggle as it is rooted both unconsciously and historically in how the “other” is positioned as fundamentally different.
The investigation of how the dominant group consciously and unconsciously retains the designation of those termed “others” creates the illusion that there is something wrong in the actions of those who feel that they do not belong. The dominant group perpetuates the idea that other groups are not part of society through the fixed image that they have in mind toward others. Navigating differences between “dominant” and “marginalised” characters is full of difficulties: the negotiation and creation of a new relation and identity comes up against ongoing conflict. This happens both between groups and in contemporary daily life. These groups share many things: work, friendships, studies, neighbourhoods, and so on
Thus, the question is one rooted in the challenge of how to improve the situation of daily togetherness and interaction within these diverse cities. To this day, this issue remains unresolved and urgent. In this writing, I will examine two case studies. In the first case, I will look at the interaction of non-Western European bodies in daily encounters. I will investigate how the owners of these bodies face their fixed image in daily performance. In the second case I will discuss character-type strategies as potential tools to blur the seemingly binary line between hierarchical groups within Western European society.
Stages for Encounter
Sociologist Arlie Hochschild highlights the roles of performance and emotion in social inaction. She asserts that social interactions are governed by culturally shaped rules, such as feelings of pride stemming from a job promotion. She introduces the concept of “feeling rules”, which shape the behaviour of individuals and can be found in every society. Hochschild does not see feeling as an emotional reaction experienced privately by an individual, but rather as a social expression of the emotional state of the individual. Her theory asserts that the expression of ourselves becomes formalised and standardised through contact with one another and broader social groups. In addition to this, Hochschild draws on sociologist Erving Goffman’s work on how people use setting, appearance, and manners to manipulate others. Goffman argues that one presents a specific kind of self through dramaturgical action in order to improve public self-image, a construction designed to be seen by others. Setting and appearance are features that act to construct our surface appearance, which Goffman terms “surface acting”. In contrast, “manner” refers to the ways in which one acts and speaks that go beneath superficial appearance.
Hoschschild further discusses how emotional cues are important in human interaction through the distinctions of “surface” and “deep” acting. She bases her concept on the work of theatre theorist and actor Konstantin Stanislavski, whose method required the performer to get into the character not by acting, but by becoming the character. Hoschschild terms this kind of acting “deep acting”. While typically performers always think about audience involvement and their point of view, in “deep acting” they interact within the “feeling rules” of the plot and character situation. Here “feeling rules” denote the behaviour that we are conditioned to assume in certain social situations – behaviours that are reinforced by social pressure.
Predominantly, a group is formed through societal expectations concerning how to think and act, a formation that Hoschschild emphasises through the metaphor of the actor. Her idea of “deep acting” is useful, because it serves as a tool to question seemingly natural behaviours. She questions the “script” that members of a society follow – that is to say, stereotyped behaviours that underline and significantly contribute to cultural identity. Hoschschild positions this idea of the script in relation to the way the dominant social power pictures and identifies the “other” as a non-differentiated group.
As Weedon claims, despite the seemingly wide choice of social identities, there are only a limited number of ways in which the individual can present themselves in social settings. In these settings, “otherness” is associated with marginalised people who are disempowered in the social, religious and political world due to their markers of difference from the dominant group; and this applies especially to my topic, that is, the relation between non-Western European bodies and their host society (Western Europe). The difficulty of encountering diverse bodies and cultures can be seen in the daily situations of people who are expected to perform in roles defined as “other” in daily life; while the consequences of “othering” behaviour are worked through by these same people, this is about who question themselves and the images through which they are defined.
A personal experience of this was related to me by a friend. One sunny day, she was sitting with a group of people on the terrace and drinking beer. She emphasised that almost all of them were drinking beer. “While I was drinking my beer one of them asked me very generously for how long I have been drinking beer?” As she began to answer the simple and seemingly innocent question, everyone looked at her and listened to her answer attentively. This caused her to feel “strange”, especially as the question had not been posed to anyone else. When my friend first told me this story, she felt that something bad had happened to her, even though she herself referred to the question as innocent and normal. Her story included no information about the background and identity of those with whom she was drinking. Nevertheless, it was obvious that when she had been asked about her drinking, she had been singled out as the “foreigner” in the group – a stranger by appearance or linguistic ability. The simple act of asking the question revealed that there was a difference and, thus, produced the difference. Likely, the question was motivated by a stereotype about the foreigner’s “normal” behaviour. In this situation, in which she was performing as part of the host society, she was instantly reminded by the others that her drinking was strange. This is because, based on her appearance, she may have appeared to be Muslim, and in the Islamic religion the drinking of alcohol is prohibited. This question was posed in an unconscious manner and betrays an expectation about how its addressee is supposed to perform. Put simply, when a “script” is not performed, this often leads to tension in, or even to rejection on the part of, the “audience”. As Homi K Bhabha in his book The Location of Culture emphasised, the examination of mastery, binaries, and power relations that are rooted in history and structured in society reveals that stereotypes do not just incompletely depict the “other” but are a significant factor in upholding power relations.
The difficulties that arise out of this expectation to perform are dealt with by the critical theorist Sara Ahmed. Ahmed, whose work is concerned with queer, feminist, and race theory, attempts to show how diversity is framed both in society in general and in institutions. She argues that institutions use diversity to generate the illusion – in fact, the deception – that they are not racist. Her book On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life is based on interviews with twenty-one diversity professionals at universities in Australia and the United Kingdom. Without mentioning the names of interviewees or institutions, she focuses on the way institutions embody diversity; and she discusses her own experience within highly unified and regulated system of higher education. Central to this task is a description of the physical and emotional labor involved in the “fleeting encounters” that diversity workers initiate in their workplaces. Ahmed depicts the feelings of frustration and disappointment of these workers as they attempt to introduce diversity to their institutions. She asserts that the experience of being a stranger in Western European, heteronormative institutions amounts to an experience of being constantly aware of the need to defend oneself. This, she argues, is the basic experience of those who do not “fit” the normative identities that are prescribed by the institution. In her view, the figure of the stranger is one we encounter in a room: it is a body whose reading functions according to social assumptions. Further, the stranger’s emotions become a form of work when he or she – in this case a non-white body – find themselves subjected to the associations that relate to their presumptively “strange” appearance. In order to not fulfil these expectations, they are forced to manage their own body and to be careful of how they come across to others.
Ahmed names certain strategies of achieving this, such as softening one’s appearance, discourse, and demeanour. In her study, Ahmed gives the example of a black male diversity trainer. The trainer describes the self-questioning invoked by conflicting feelings whilst working with a diverse group, namely people of colour:
The other point as well about being a black trainer is that I’ve got to rapport build. Do I do that by being a member of the black and white minstrel show or do I do that by trying to earn respect with my knowledge? Do I do it by being friendly or do I do it by being cold, aloof and detached? And what does all this mean to the people now? From my point of view, it probably has nothing to do with the set of people that are in that room because the stereotype they’ve got in their heads is well and truly fixed.
By questioning his self-presentation, the trainer investigated his performance by unpacking his emotional labour. In this context, emotional labour can be a form of additional labour, which is to say as one that goes beyond the ordinary salaried duties of an employee and requires a specifically emotional input. The investigation of “deep acting”, or likewise the act of questioning how people perform stereotypes within the workplace, enacts an emotional toll, which adds to the stress and pressure of the work itself.
The trainer struggles because he is not sure which strategy to adapt in order to present himself while working with a diverse group. Despite this, as he remarks in his conclusion, people already have a fixed image in their minds. Seemingly the only thing to do in this context is to take care not to perform in a way that would fulfil the preconceived image. The tutor becomes exhausted by the limits of his questioning. Ahmed underlines:
…the emotional labour of asking yourself what to do when there is an idea of you that persists, no matter what you do. Indeed the consequences of racism are in part managed as a question of self-presentation, of trying not to fullfil a stereotype.
“Deep acting” takes place within the “feeling rules” of this situation. “Feeling rules” are present when we feel that we are being questioned by others. In the example above, the trainer was aware of the fixed image that people had of him. He then tried to counteract it and failed – and this failure enacted a great emotional toll. His failure is an example of how the pressures of the stereotype bleed into every aspect of life and how the idea of performance structures this situation.
The question of how to deal with stereotypes is present in both examples that I have discussed so far. In the first, when my friend was “deep acting”, she herself was unaware that there was a difference between herself and the others in the group. Through the act of questioning her act of drinking beer, the others in the group brought her perceived difference to light. In the second example, the trainer was previously aware of his otherness and the fixed image people may have of him. In the specific situation of work, as an academic interacting with students within an educational institution, he tried not to act in a way that would reproduce a stereotypical image. He did this in order to unpack and examine the emotional struggles with stereotypes that take place in the daily life of non-Western European bodies in Western Europe. The owners of these bodies often see themselves as stereotyped in a manner that keeps them within a fixed hierarchy in which they are “others” in their host society.
Below I introduce various characters introduced by different thinkers as strategies for confronting the dominant group. I discuss how the “refugee” and/or “stranger” tries to perform a certain identity that may not always succeed. Later, I will explore these characters in relation to my personal experiences of undertaking research I did in 2016, in the Netherlands.
The people who I met during my research came from different countries and had a variety of backgrounds, lifestyles, and sociocultural commitments. In interviews, the participants described how they did not want to change their origins or traditions and discussed the ways in which national and religious identity play a crucial role in these traditions. However, some were reluctant to be labelled as “outsiders” because they felt that they had integrated into Dutch society. I focused on aspects of people’s lives that remained the same even when they changed geographies. While before this I engaged with many “outsiders” socially, I had not paid attention to the details of their different choices. Despite the variety of reactions, what astonished me was that in most of the interviews there was expressed an underlying feeling of being an “outsider”.
To take one instance, one of the participants, who had been married to a Dutch woman for twenty years, had “Dutch children” and a good job, was nevertheless unable to free himself from the sensation that he was an outsider. In addition, many of the immigrants with whom I spoke believed in all their actions and interactions, they were perceived by their host society as an outsider in Dutch society. However, these examples were not my sole means of investigating the topic; there are different means and levels of integration (or non-integration) within a new society. In the next section, I discuss the experience of those who want to integrate into their new society. How can cultural practices offer new forms of agency and serve as ways of subverting, and negotiating with, the dominant power-group?
As Erving Goffman argues, in every situation, people have a certain way of presenting themselves as if they were on a stage. They do this in order to control the expectations formed by their audience. This recalls Arendt’s account in her essay “We Refugees” of the strategies used by Jews who attempted to resist prejudices, as well as their efforts to create other identities within their host society. Arendt states that
A man who wants to lose his self discovers, indeed, the possibilities of human existence, which are infinite, as infinite as is creation. But the recovering of a new personality is as difficult – and as hopeless – as a new creation for the world. Whatever we do, whatever we pretend to be, we reveal nothing but our insane desire to be changed, not to be Jews. All our activities are directed to attain this aim: we don’t want to be refugees, since we don’t want to be Jews; we pretend to be English speaking people …
Arendt underlines that despite the infinite possibilities that may exist, choices are limited due to the existence of preconceived images of certain groups. Later, Arendt talks about the figure of the Pariah (the conscious Pariah) as opposed to the figure of the Parvenu; these, she claims, are the two main subject positions open to Jewish people.
Originally, the word “Pariah” comes from the Indian Tamil “Pariyan”. It is a word that is used to refer to a member of the Dalit group of Hindus of Southern India and Sri Lanka. The members of the Dalit group have historically had a very low status in the traditional Hindu caste system within India and Sri Lanka. Due to their low status, they are only able to find “undesirable work”, which is considered ritually impure by the upper classes. They are not able to choose their job freely but are obliged to choose between jobs that within the Indian tradition are regarded as dirty and inappropriate. This work includes performing music and carrying out different functions at funerals. The word “Parvenu” comes from French; it is the past participle of the verb parvenir (to reach, to arrive, to manage to do something). The word “Parvenu” is typically used to describe a person who has suddenly risen to a higher social and economic class and has not yet gained social acceptance by others within that class.
These terms were later used by late nineteenth-century French-Jewish literary critic Bernard Lazar to make a distinction between the rebellious, “conscious Pariah” and the “assimilationist Parvenu”. They were also used by the influential early twentieth-century contributor to the creation of modern Israel, the Austrian Zionist leader Theodor Herzl, who described the situation of the modern Jew as that of a “Pariah”. German sociologist and political economist Max Weber was the first to introduce and analyse the figure of the “Pariah” in sociological terms, in discussions also dating to the early twentieth century. Moreover, Weber introduced the notion of the “Jewish Pariah” in order to counter German social scientist and economist Werner Sombart’s 1911 claim that Judaism was an essentially “capitalist” religion. Weber saw the Jews not as capitalist originators, but as politically and socially unprivileged “Pariahs”.
In Arendt’s view, the “Pariah” is a specific type of Jew as opposed to another type of Jew, the “Parvenu”. Both figures, the “Pariah” and the “Parvenu”, face their “strangeness” in different ways, though both live in societies in which they are unable to feel at home. This negotiation of identity involves conflict: whether Pariah or Parvenu, the Jew is confronted with a new life, a new place, and with new people. Both figures seek refuge, but in very different ways. The “Parvenu” does everything possible to be like others and find his or her space among them, while the “Pariah” never performs the part, or wears the mask, of others. The “Pariah” remains outside others and never becomes part of the host culture and society. Arendt praises the “Pariah” figure: she describes the “Pariah” as a member of “humanity”, rather than an “upstart”. In this context, she introduces the “upstart” as a term with negative connotations, the purpose of which is to describe a person who has suddenly risen to wealth or a high social position.
As a “Pariah” figure, the Jew was totally alienated from their host society and did not try to assimilate. Instead, they accepted the consequences of their identity. As a “Parvenu” figure, the Jew became part of the host society. They continued to be a Jew in the sense of signifying a different “other”, in an exotic sense, but they were simultaneously not a Jew, because of their social integration. Despite all attempts made by the “Parvenu” figure, Arendt claims that they never fully assimilated and will always remain recognisable to others as a Jew. In the end, both “Pariah” and “Parvenu” remained outsiders and were never able to fully integrate into their host society.
I see these two figures as not only relevant, but as prevalent among contemporary non- Western European bodies in Western Europe. I found connections to both the “Pariah” and “Parvenu” figures during my 2016 research with immigrants who came from different non-Western European nations.
There were those who believed that they have never been accepted as part of their host society; they have built their own community and asserted that they do not care about “the looks” they get from those they perceive as “Dutch”. On the other hand, there are those who fight to engage with Dutch society, learn the language and study the culture. They were somewhat removed from their national community and/or other immigrants who did not identify with the broader Dutch society. They tried to adapt and to see themselves as Dutch through strategies such as home design, clothing, treatment of their children and behaviour in daily life. Despite this, I could still sense their struggle. Many told me that “no matter what we do we remain strangers, outsiders [‘buitenlander’ in Dutch]”.
All of those I spoke with felt that they still faced the question of “where do you come from (where do you originally come from)?”, as well as stereotyping, even though many came from families that had lived in the Netherlands for two generations. In the process of these interviews, several strategies for adaptation (or lack thereof) became visible; one was that of mimicry.
The behaviour of the colonial masters in relation to the colonised population leads the colonised nation to look at themselves as inferior human beings, as less than the colonizers. For the colonised to change this self-image, one line of action is to become like the master: to assume the image of the colonizer by means of mimicry.
“Mimicry” is defined by some scholars as the attempt by the colonized to imitate the behaviours, attitudes, language and/or culture of the colonisers. This is described by Frantz Fanon as a traumatic aspect of blackness. Fanon particularly emphasises that the desire to mimic “the White” haunts “the Black” day and night. He concludes that sadly, being white is the only destiny for the black man. Fanon asserts that the figure of “the Black” “wants to be like the master. Therefore, he is less independent than the Hegelian slave. In Hegel the slave turns away from the master and turns toward the object. Here the slave turns toward the master and abandons the object”.
Homi K Bhabha explores a similar idea to Fanon but through a very different approach. In his essay “Of mimicry and man: The ambivalence of colonial discourse”, Bhabha uses Lacan’s notion of mimicry, starting his essay with a quotation from Lacan: “… The effect of mimicry is camouflage … It is not a question of harmonising with the background, but against a mottled background, of becoming mottled exactly like the technique of camouflage practiced in human warfare”. Lacan’s discussion concerns how subjects, like animals, can employ certain mimetic strategies in the struggle for survival. For instance, an animal or insect, in order to protect themselves, can camouflage themselves by imitating poisonous plants or mimicking their background. Bhabha refers to this Lacanian notion of mimicry-as-camouflage, but he claims that the performance of mimicry by the colonized is a very effective strategy of usurping colonial power and knowledge.
Bhabha states: “…The menace of mimicry is its double vision which in disclosing the ambivalence of colonial discourse also disrupts its authority.” Thus, when the colonizer sees the so-called “other” mimicking him, he sees himself but also not himself, and this is a form of double vision. In challenging the coloniser’s authority, the colonised sees himself both as subject and object. So, in a way the binary is blurred between the colonizer “subject” and the colonized “object”, this creates ambivalence.
Drawing lines between self and other effectively means building one’s identity; thus, for Bhabha, the act of mimicry blurs the line between self and other. For many this is a negative behaviour because it reveals the desire for something that one lacks. A further finding is that mimicry connotes a negative behaviour, especially for those who belong to groups that identify as marginal within a broader society. An example that exemplifies the negative connotations of this mimicry is “the coconut”. The “coconut” is a vernacular term that is used to refer to those whose skin is brown but are perceived as culturally imitating those with white skin. The argument is that one tries to attain this desired object only at the cost of rejecting one’s own, “authentic” identity.
On the one hand, mimicry as a strategy of copying those in power seems opportunistic, akin to how the “Parvenu” figure tries to benefit from mimicking. However, in many cases, this backfires. It often results in the creation of an identity that feels as if it is part of neither group. Even Bhabha, who argues for mimicry as a strategy to blur the line between groups, this underlines its ambivalence. As a tool, it creates a situation of “the same but not quite”. He states that: “… mimicry is the desire for a reformed, recognizable Other, as a subject of a difference that is almost the same, but not quite”.
I assume that these strategies serve as temporary solutions, created out of the need for a speedy visual answer to the problem of discrimination. As in the case of the “Pariah” and the “Parvenu”, ultimately both figures remain outside in relation to those who hold social power. The “Parvenu” imitates their host, but never settles or becomes part of the host society. This is a useful finding that is consistent with the experience of many of the participants in the interviews I conducted with non-Western European immigrants to the Netherlands. Moreover, it chimes with Fanon’s assertion that the effort to mimic white culture results in the negation of one’s own (black) identity, and that this causes feelings of alienation and confusion related to belonging and identity. Fanon does not argue for this position in order to defend an “authentic” black identity, since in his view “the black” is also the creation of a colonial system. He asks, “What does the black man want?” Fanon answers this question with the conclusion that the black man is not even a man. The desire to mimic the white haunts the black, day and night. This leads to Fanon’s eventual argument that black colonial subjects eventually realise that they have no viable and precise identity, because the only destiny for the black man is to become a white man. He further claims that “There is another fact: Black men want to prove to White men at all costs, the richness of their thought, the equal value of their intellect”.
For the above reasons, and in view of the results of my own interviews, I conclude that mimicry is not a successful strategy for blurring the line between social groups. The fixed image of the non-Western, non-European (non-white) body is rooted, consciously or unconsciously, in the structures of contemporary Western European society. This comes with the expectation that the “other” should perform according to the terms of this fixed image, somewhat in the manner of a script. If this script is not followed, the result is tension and, in some cases, rejection, such as in my friend’s experience that I discussed earlier. Ultimately, mimicry as a strategy comes down to viewing the dominant power as a role model. I am interested in more subversive ways in which the “other” does not have to completely take on a new identity in order to find acceptance. In his book The Location of Culture, Bhabha refuses to acknowledge the existence of purity, while at the same time he emphasises the difficulties that arise from the binaries and power relations that structure the relations between cultures. In order to extend the discussion of Bhabha’s mimicry, we should now attempt to conceptualise the concept of “hybridity”. Bhabha defines “hybridity” as an answer to the dangers of cultural binaries of “us/them” and the fundamentalist urge for purist cultural forms.
Hybridity has been discussed throughout history in a wide range of ways. Bhabha used the term as another way to deal with differences between groups and cultures. Over the course of centuries, cultures fractured, combined and reformed as a result of different regimes, mixes of people and implementations of geo-political power. As a result, many contemporary cultures are a hybrid mix of the combination of various influences, reflected in language, food, clothing, rituals, and so on. In the case of post 9/11 Netherlands, new immigrants challenge the representations of themselves within Dutch society. In this context, hybridity can be understood as a strategy. It is an important tool that can be used to challenge the images created by those in power. Hybridity can open space. Like Bhabha’s concept of mimicry, hybridity is twofold; there can never be just one space or one strategy. For Bhabha, hybridity promotes an image of being in two places at once. In his essay “Sign taken for wonders”, Bhabha outlines how individual identity is flexible, not simply the result of factors such as education, gender, and race. Since individuals can only be accurately described through cultural hybridity, stereotypes are not an appropriate means of description. Hybridity is a strategy for the colonised subject to regain agency. He states that:
Hybridity reverses the formal process of disavowal so that the violent dislocation of the act of colonialization becomes the conditionality of colonial discourse. The presence of colonialist authority is no longer immediately visible; its discriminatory identification no longer has its authoritative reference to this culture’s cannibalism or that people’s perfidy.
Bhabha suggests that differences between cultures are neither erased nor unified but continue to be a part of daily life; and he proposes that these differences form a hybrid “Third Space”. He states that culture is the site for this peripheral place, a liminal area where identities can cross and blur. This dislocation or hybrid position is experienced by different communities but is especially prevalent among those who experience a distinct mixing of cultural identities, such as immigrants and those with a multicultural background.
Bhabha’s Third Space comes from a cultural position within the postcolonial. First, I see this as taking place within the site of the home: the individual’s home, and their cultural background and its performance. I see the second space as the other, or new, culture outside of the first space. For Bhabha, when the first space wants to operate in the second space and the second space does not allow it due to discrimination (whether based on race, gender, language, or some other structure), then a Third Space is created as an alternative. This allows the establishment of a hybrid culture. The Third Space is not linked to specific territory, and it is not a geographical space. It can happen anywhere. Bhabha rejects the idea of a fixed identity, such as a true origin. Contemporary identity is a complex negotiation between the powerful and the marginalised. For him, the Third Space is “the revaluation of the assumption of colonial identity”.
According to cultural anthropologist Jan Nederveen Pieterse, hybridity is a useful concept because it reveals the interconnections between groups. Nevertheless, Pieterse argues that the hybrid space is still a space where people must struggle in order to articulate their identity. He claims that:
Recognition and difference are a function of the existing identities and boundaries that are available on the social and cultural maps. Recognition is part of a process of struggle over cognition. Hybridity is a journey into the riddles of recognition.
However, for Bhabha and many other scholars, hybridity is a way of creating a new, shared world in which there is space for the possibility of new identities and subjectivities. Generally, in the anti-hybridity discourse, the major critical focus is as follows.
Despite the rhetoric surrounding multiculturalism, scholars argue that hybridity has not altered the situation in which some are made to feel racially different. Sociologist Floya Anthias criticises Bhabha’s positive concept of hybridity as utopian or incomplete. She writes that:
…homogenises the group in not attending to differentiated hybridisation. The differential projects of diaspora groups or the divisions within them are not explored enough, particularly those of class and gender…”
Nevertheless, it is accepted by Bhabha that hybridity does not change either the coloniser or the colonized; rather it is a means of making both sides aware of the fluid nature of culture.
The present writing has found that the medium of recognition, such as visual appearance, is both a powerful and difficult obstacle to negotiate. Institutions and culturally hegemonic groups do not easily give up their position of authority and domination, and the resulting struggle for recognition by the Other takes energy away from the creation of spaces of self-empowerment. In addition, the main finding is that the idea of fixed identity still has a powerful presence. Due to this power, the critical unpacking of third space remains a primary concern.
Discussing the various characters gave me the means to think about how to break from the confines of representation, be they gender, race or class, I have shown that the stereotype of non-western European immigrants within a Western European host society is a fixed image that repeats throughout history. This repeating framework creates a specific border, and, in this writing, hybridity emerges as a third space that might counteract the hegemony of this border.
In the contemporary geo-political situation of borders and nations, I see the Third Space is a particularly potent tool of potential subversion; one that extends the politics of the personal into the political landscape. To be clear: I do not claim that this space is a solution – I am still ambivalent about the notion of a third space. Just as I am adamant that I will not provide an all-encompassing solution in this writing, it is important also to problematise concepts such as Third Space, in order to depart from them theoretically and conceptually in the future.
Through the struggle with the fixed image and the ways of dealing with dominant group, I realise that all narrowing down one’s space in life, and affect individual subjectivity in many ways that I discussed. Above all this struggle is nothing but another way to give another power to dominant group.
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Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 10
Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Globalization and Culture: global mélange(Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).
Floya Anthias,Rethinking anti-racisms: from theory to practice(London: Routledge, 2002), 34.