Collective Identity Reflections

Throughout the Polletta & Japser piece, while waxing and waning on the theoretical perception of a conflict between moral actions and self-interest when choosing to do activist work, I had Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” playing in my head. Is it possible to understand a collective identity without talking to those who identify with the identity and have them answer the where/how/why/etc questions? Notions of the epic story creating the epic ‘student’ activist status in the 60s reminds me of status updates and tweets from OWS — the personal level. Today I saw a tweet about Tara — a 13 year old girl singing Adele on Youtube. She also happens to be Iranian. On Youtube the comments range from what a gift to — I hope that you aren’t arrested for this — to comments on the fear of an Israel/Iran war. Art is a cultural building block, and the collective identities being perceived and commented on in Tara’s video are vast.

What does go into making a collective identity? In terms of OWS/Anonymous…do Alan Moore/David Lloyd get credit/a check for the illustration of V’s Guy Fawkes’ mask? Does a comic book get credited as a cultural building block? I do not think many outside of the UK would have known who Guy Fawkes was let alone that there was a night/day for him. The mask is a symbol of protest, wearing it signifies membership in a group which shares a supposed or imagined collective identity. Art/music/the image/media are cultural building blocks. People use different mediums to express and explore who they are – and membership in collective identities is something humans tend towards.

In the image a hijabi wears a scarf made of national flags. This is spam for a talk on Cultural Anxiety, Collective Identity: Muslims and Citizenship in the United States and Western Europe. The rhetoric that “we are all women” sometimes implies we are all the same, and because such and such is so we have all had the same experiences and so let us rally towards xyz cause because that is the right thing to do as women for women. Third wave feminism has generally rejected those sorts of notions and promoted difference/intersectionality instead of the collective/shared experience. Much of Women and Gender Studies is a blend between personal, emotional, and academic. Maybe work in Collective Identity theory would benefit from personal stories and the intense emotions that can be evoked by collective identities.

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One thought on “Collective Identity Reflections

  1. Pingback: Collective Movement Identity Megablog | Networked Social Movements

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