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April 3, 2008

Journal 1

Week 9 Journal

During Week 9: The History of the Self and other, class began by discussing Benedict Anderson’s “Imagined Communities?. After covering our initial responses to Anderson’s writing style and readability, we broke into small groups. Posed to us were these questions: “What does Anderson mean by ‘imagined’ communities?? and “What is the relation of the religious community, the dynastic realm, and nationality??

As for the first question posed, whatever homeostatic resolution we may have reached within our groups, the differences of our conclusions about the ‘imagined community’ resonated in discussion. Not only ‘imagined’ but ‘community,’ too, needed defining. What is a community? The working definition we seemed to agree upon was that a community is either ascribed or subscribed to, but in either case, it is a group of people with whom one has things in common—whether it be a floor in a dorm, a small city, or a nation in which all members live; a place of employment; or a group of people that all enjoy juggling. So how, then are these communities imagined, even the ones with physical contact? After much discussing, ‘imagined’ boiled down to not fake or made up, not the hierarchical orientation or the degree of physicality of the relationship, but the emotional investment in that relationship: the sense of “I belong.? Communities arrange themselves in myriad different ways, but when one considers oneself a part of a community, one feels like he or she belongs, he or she imagines a connection between him or herself and the other members of the community. And it is in this feeling of connection that Anderson stakes his claim of ‘imagined.’ Even in communities of close physical contact, where the idea of community is almost tangible, Anderson argues that it is still imagined because of the emotional stake people have in it.

In addressing the second question, discussion focused mainly on three different ways in which the religious community, the dynastic realm, and nationality relate. The first is how they are organized. What kind of relationship corresponds with each type of community? As for religious communities and dynastic realms, the relationship is a simple centripetal, hierarchical relationship. If portrayed three dimensionally, I imagine it would look pyramidal or cone like. At the top is the single, most powerful being in the community (God, or the Ruler); on the next tier is a powerful group few in number (the clergy, or the aristocracy); and on down the until the low group of many (common man). Nations, on the other hand are arranged horizontally, such that every one is perceived to be equal. The second way in which the religious community, the dynastic realm, and nationality relate is in terms of their bounds. Both the religious community and dynastic realm have fluid boundaries, shifting and moving all the time. Nations, on the other hand, have hardened, set boundaries. The third and last way we discussed that the religious community, the dynastic realm, and nationality relate is in terms of how time is viewed. In the Religious and Dynastic Communities, everything that happens is predetermined by Divine Providence and it is therefore unrealistic to think in terms of what is happening simultaneously at some other location. Nothing that happens is related to anything else temporally or causally. Everything happens in the Divine Realm at the same time and is spread out temporally only on Earth. In the national community, though, things are related temporally and causally and so thinking about events in terms of cause and effect and simultaneity is both plausible and common.

Though not presented in the questions we were supposed to address in small group discussion, we inevitably ended up talking over the shift from small physical communities to larger physical communities to the absence of physical contact within communities; this shift’s causes; and the pros and cons of this shift. Two of the major causes we discussed that were contributors to this shift are the decline of the use of Latin in printing (i.e. the democratization of Holy Scriptures and other scholarly texts) and print capitalism. Once people started being able to buy things like newspapers and to read them at home while sipping a cup of coffee, the need for physical contact lessened; and virtual contact and imagined kinship replaced it.

Journal 1

On March 13, 2008 we discussed “The Matter of Whiteness?, “Failing to See?, and “Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination?. These all have a common thread of discussing race and ethnicity and how they tie into life. The two readings that I will write about are the “Matter of Whiteness? and Falling to See?. “The Matter of Whiteness? is one that dives into the perception of whiteness equaling humanity. Richard Dyer the author of “The Matter of Whiteness? wrote on how in many situations race is mentioned unless the person is white. The class debated this point saying that maybe in regular speech; but not so much in literature is race not mentioned if the person is white. Most assume that the people portrayed in the literature are of the same race as the author. It was also suggested in class that white people are more conscious of other races; though other races are believed to refer to race more often than their white counterparts. In the “Falling to See? by Harlon Dalton race and ethnicity are discussed. The major issue discussed by the class with “Falling to See? is the statement that ethnicity would exist even if there were no other ethnicities. Whereas with a contrast to ethnicity, race you need more than one race for race to exist. “Moreover, race it self would be meaningless if it were not a fault line along which power, prestige, and respect are distributed.? Also in “Falling to See? there was a concern on how different races relate to their ethnicities. Particularly the black non-Hispanic race in America, in how they/we identify our race from our culture. Black is a race not an ethnicity but to some black defines booth race and ethnicity.

I personally feel as though in today’s society we try not to see race as a factor but it is a factor. Race is similar to gender in the way that people want to know how you are classified. Which box do you belong to is a question we try not to think about but it is always there in the back of are minds. As seen with “The Matter of Whiteness? it is believed that to some whiteness equals humanity. When a person is not white it seems as though their race is focused more on. As a minority I feel as though my race proceeds all of my other characterizes. This can be because my race is what one sees first. My race does proceed all of my other characterizes because it is something I can not hide, it is clearly there and definable. That could be why it is the one judge on the most. I wonder if others feel as if their race defines them before they can even open their mouth? Whites are portrayed in “The matter of Whiteness? as being oblivious to their race. They can do that because “as long as race is something only applied to non-whites peoples, as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm.?

According to Dyer being white is not addressed as often as other races making whiteness invisible, dominant. If this is so those who are white do not have to deal with bad connotations of race? Race means nothing because their race is what is seen as humanity? Do they do not have to deal with all the baggage associated with race because their race is perceived to be the human race? This could be why some white people become defensive when mentioning their race. They feel as though there race has no bearing on their actions. Whereas I feel as though my race is a huge contributor to my actions; I feel as if there are rules that are associated with my race. Most of those rules are bad stereotypes. I feel a heavy weight form my race and I wonder if other feel the same. I wonder if I would feel this weight if I were apart of the majority is it easier to breathe when you are apart of the majority. These are all the thoughts I had when reading “The Matter of Whiteness? but my feeling and thoughts changed as I went to the next reading. It is odd how from day to day article to article my opinion can change. A question that I am personally baffled on is how to distinguish my race from ethnicity.

The question of race is one that is only skin deep ethnicity on the other hand is ones culture and traditions. Race needs another race to be seen but ethnicity stands alone. I agree with this statement. Sometimes race is confused with ethnicity; an example would be as a mentioned before the African American community. I do not feel as if I should say I am African American. I have no ties to the continent of Africa I know little to nothing about it. Why should I say African it does not in my opinion describe me. Although I am quick to disregard the African part of African American older generations fought so hard to be described as African American. There is a clash between the generations over the description. With this I can only think that if we as a group can not identify ourselves what message does that send. Another example mentioned in class was Native Americans and how they are at times seen as race and ethnicity. Native American is a broad term. There are many tribes that make up the race of Native American each having its own ethnicities. Ethnicity is grounded in our way of life in what we do, eat, our traditions, and culture. With each article I became more confused on how I feel about the topics discussed. Each one is complex and can be viewed from multiply sides.
Word Count: 900