• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Identity Anxiety

Extracts from this document...


Identity Anxiety Kate Chanock In academic circles, identity has become the New Black: basic but sophisticated, essence yet also artifice. The Humanities' central question -- what it means to be human - is refracted through the prism of postmodernism into questions about what it means to be any particular kind of human, in any particular time and place. In history, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, politics, literature, media or cultural studies, our students go home each semester with assignments asking them to look at how identity is defined, inherited, shaped, nurtured, cherished, celebrated, colonized, contested, denied, suppressed, lost, forgotten, damaged, destroyed, reclaimed, reinvented, sought or bought, branded, marketed, imagined, remembered, realized, enacted or expressed. But bound up with the urge to examine who we are, how we know, and why it matters, is a sense of the fragility of identity. Just when globalization suggests the possibility of living as a citizen of the world, we shrink back, like the silkworms in Douglas Stewart's poem, which have lived "all their lives in a box!" -- and, even when the lid is taken off, will not climb out.1 Once agents in the export of identity from the cultural West, Australians now fear colonization by American popular - and unpopular - culture. ...read more.


First there was Big Brother, with its ugly spectacle of bonding around the exclusion of a member of the community each week. I felt that this was unAustralian, though it echoed the milieu my children had encountered as puberty set in. I could not say that it was foreign to the culture, but it made the peculiarly disturbing world of adolescent girls into an acceptable norm for people of every age. Australians were transfixed, and I was worried. And yet, the worst that could happen didn't. The contestants became, in their own bizarre way, Australian mates. It happened again on Australian Idol, when those with the most at stake developed a generous affection for one another as the climax approached. These "games" are proliferating as fast as anybody can come up with an angle; is it possible that Australians can continue to naturalise these rituals of exclusion? What is needed is a robust sense of proportion, and that is not easy to come by in a country where the have-nots are mercifully few by world standards, and small stakes can therefore seem unnaturally large. It was such a distortion of proportion that we saw in the Olympic Games in Athens. ...read more.


Whether games or battles, these are always going to be about ranking, splitting and winning. If this undermines the things we most like about ourselves, we would do better to climb over the edge of our box and look at what makes us the same as everybody else, in every other time and place. It is perhaps five thousand years since Gilgamesh, the hero of the epic of Sumer (now Iraq), was advised to accept that he would never find the secret of immortality and should, instead, "cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this ... is the lot of man".4 It is the lot of people everywhere; and if we devoted ourselves to safeguarding this modest ideal, not just for ourselves but for our neighbours, we would have less cause to be anxious about our own identity. 1 D. Stewart, "The Silkworms", in The Penguin Book of Australian Verse, eds. J. Thompson, K. Slessor and R.G. Howarth (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1958), 183-184. 2 A. Stevenson, "The Odd Australian Out", Age 28 August 2004, Insight 3. 3 Stevenson, Insight 3. 4 N.K. Sandars, ed. and trans., The Epic of Gilgamesh, 2nd Edition (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972), 102. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Anthropology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Anthropology essays

  1. Urban Athens: a cultural examination of the differing treatment towards stray dogs and immigrants

    the immense feeling of community felt between Greek families and neighbours as well. And thus within the paradigm of community we can start to understand why stray dogs are cared for and immigrants shunned. Dogs are companion animals to people, immigrants are seen as invaders not companions.

  2. Are theories of postmodernism Eurocentric?

    and almost trying to destroy the old grand metanarratives such as religion and tradition. However by discarding these metanarratives postmodernists are surely simply creating a new metanarrative to replace the old ones.

  1. What is Postmodernism? Fashion in Postmodernism

    Madan Sarup (1930 - 1993) supports this view, suggesting that educational agenda puts an emphasis on the skills and training rather than giving a value to humanist ideal of education system. In postmodern societies, knowledge is being looked at very differently than in modern.

  2. What is 'postmodernism'

    (albeit many argue it was more of a combining force then a leap), when 'the uncertainty, ambiguity and linguistic emphasis...intrinsic to the poststructuralist stance were extended from texts to history'10. The prominent figure who started this transgression was Jean-Fran�ois Lyotard, creator of the term metanarrative, used in order to attack assumptions oh historical progress or development.

  1. The term Postmodernism.

    Common Features Although many writers ambiguously write on Postmodernism, it becomes apparent that there is no absolute definition. However, there are some characteristics common to some of the writers. The following characteristics will be explained with reference to a contemporary example.

  2. Body Modification, feminism and postmodernism

    But these types are no longer necessarily a statement of individuality in today's youth culture. Most young adults now will either have a tattoo or a piercing or will know someone that does. These forms of individuality are now fashion statements that are seen as part of western culture.

  1. Manipulating the Personal Journeys of Identity: Westernization and the Ottoman and Republican understandings of ...

    Method and Sources The available sources prove the existence of avenues for the Ottoman subject to respond to new forms of self-expression, thus to voice individual concerns and questions about the imposition of new definitions on the 'self'. Literature was one tool that the intellectuals of the Tanzimat and later

  2. Are we in a post-traumatic age?

    This lead to theories that there were basic parallels between individual and mass behaviour and if dissatisfied people were prone to intolerance and authoritarianism then it was reasonable to assume that dissatisfied nations were prone to demagoguery and war. (P305, Herman, 1995)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work