Sheep’s clothing & Identity Politics
May 2010 07

Accepting that there are some elements of our identities which are pre-detetermined such as our appearances, the prevailing culture where we are born and the things we experience from our surroundings – What makes an individual’s identity unique? We are social animals, meaning that if we are ‘normal’, we live in contact with others – friends, family, significant others and acquaintances. As a result we are constantly comparing ourselves to each other and tend define ourselves in reaction to other people and their perspective stereotypes. More specifically, we are influenced by others.  There is no such thing as  identity without a socio-cultural/politcal context to relate it to in the first place. We either act to be identified with or apart from certain stereotypes and pre-conceived notions which we think other people have awareness of and can relate to.

It seems that in making choices about how one wants to be perceived in our information-age societies of pre-packaged social norms, there is only the choice between conforming or being the outcast. An example of such behaviour  is putting on one’s best outfit for a job interview with the understanding that people who wear well tailored suits appear more capable and successful. The flip-side to that would be someone who constantly wears casual attire  to make a statement that they are carefree as opposed to being ‘preppy’ for fear of being perceived as a ‘stiff-nosed tosser’. However I’m sure that most of us a familiar with the phrases ‘mutton dressed up as lamb‘ and ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing‘…

Take Michael Jackson as an example of a paradox in identity politics (see hyperlinked article). He was inspired by [read more..]

Music Break: Gang Starr – Code of the streets
Apr 2010 21

R.I.P. Guru of Gangstarr.

Check the social commentary in the rhymes. A true poet. He will be missed.

You too may fit the profile
Mar 2010 04

Things have changed once again.  It used to be that you could get on a plane quite easily after your baggage was x-rayed for contraband – drugs, excessive cash etc.

However, the September 11th attacks ushered in a slew of aviation security changes which are now considered to be commonplace such as: metal detectors, pat downs and stricter check-in procedures to name a few. It seems unfathomable that knives were once allowed onto planes. The botched attack of the infamous shoe-bomber, Richard Reid, meant that some of us now have to accept being asked to take off our shoes for x-raying as part of the security measures. The 2006  transatlantic aviation attack plot led to hand luggage liquid bans/restrictions as well.

Things are different now. The attempted attack by the 23-year old Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, otherwise known as the “christmas or crotch bomber” on Detroit-bound Flight 253 has changed things once more. The latest slew of security measures in include full body x-rays, tighter immigration rules and behavioural profiling…
[read more..]

Uganda Skateboard Union
Feb 2010 24

The Z-Boys should be proud. The appeal of the skateboarding subculture has extended so far and influenced so many that it surely must have surpassed their expectations by going from Venice Beach, California in the 1970s to Uganda today with the emergence of the Uganda Skateboard Union.

The Union’s story, one that bucks the trends and defies stereotypes, is a testament to cultural exchange. Like many others, the Union’s following has found escapism and even taken on a new identity based around the global skating culture.  They watch and are obviously influenced by skate videos but like other skaters they express their individuality in their styles.  Furthermore beyond being an escape; the pastime offers lessons in ingenuity and tenacity (eg. overcoming obstacles such as building a park and having to repair their own shoes).  The story of their self-made skatepark begins with Jackson Mubiru who (according to the BBC) was introduced to skateboarding by a European enthusiast. The video below shows them in action and tells more of their tale in detail.
[read more..]

From the inside looking out
Dec 2009 14

An American anthropology student conducts a social experiment in Ghana.

Vanick Der Bedrossian writes:

This is a TV news segment on my experience working as a money collector, known as a “mate” on a bus in Accra, Ghana (buses are called tro tro).

Regardless of possible ulterior motives; Van is a good sport for working as a driver’s mate, which is widely considered to be a menial job.  His experience and attitude teaches that all people regardless of apparent differences can relate to one another if they are willing to make the effort to familiarise themselves with the culture and experiences of others.

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