Yes, You ARE My Data!

Data Pic 2

Anytime “data” can answer this question, the stakes increase. “Yes” or “No,” the question is posed rhetorically, for in receiving an answer, the trouble of the “human sciences”—that is, the human in human sciences—sounds off in a chorus composed of intentionality, strategies of identification, and politically-charged and charred epistemological appeals and ethical slights-of-hand. In other words, when we take this question (and its implications) seriously, shit stands to “get real.”

About a year ago, historian, religious studies scholar and public intellectual Anthea Butler wrote a powerful essay for Religion Dispatches titled “The Zimmerman Acquittal: America’s Racist God.” If you have the time, it’s worth another read. She ended up the target of a series of online attacks from people angry at the post. Dr. Butler cataloged the hate mail here. Continue reading

Your Turn: Are they “illegals” or “post-fetal persons”?

Mexican children

For the past several days this image has circulated around Facebook in response to the recent flood of Central American children reaching the southern borders of the U.S. in hopes of gaining safe passage, many of them escaping violent home countries. If you’re unfamiliar with the dynamics of what’s gone on, you can read more about it here.

Clearly, this situation has given many political groups ample opportunity to engage in the manufacture of various identities as they take sides on the issue. What identity strategies have you seen at play in this conflict? How have they operated? In what political/social/cultural contexts do they appear to be effective? It’s your turn.

Cultural Sensibilities

Change, Same Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.A year ago, a member of the Greek Parliament, Mrs. Repousi, who belongs to the leftish political party of DEMAR (Democratic Left) provoked a series of reactions in the media with two statements (each set apart by a couple of days) that she made during discussions concerning changes in the educational system. Continue reading

Spelling Identity

Picture 1I recently found a copy of Noah Webster’s Elementary Spelling book, a version apparently published in the 1840′s, that includes an intriguing discussion of spelling. A primary motivation that informed Webster’s work on the spelling book was generating national unity through consistent pronunciation and spelling. Webster’s work included differentiating American English from British English, as his book appears to be the source for the absence of a “u” in words such as color and favor and spelling “center” with an “er” instead of an “re”. Continue reading

YOUR TURN: The Natural Look

The Natural LookPhoto credit: www.julep.com

Your Turn” is a new, ongoing feature at Culture on the Edge, in which we just plant the seed by picking a ripe e.g. and then soliciting and responding to your analysis.

When I was twelve, I remember spending my birthday money on a “how-to” book on makeup application. I became particularly adept at “polka dot party makeup” (or a technique called something similar to that) wherein I dotted my eyes with black eyeliner in a way that I now realize probably resembled malignant freckles.

Despite my tender age, I remember recognizing at the time that there was some irony in the fact that the book featured a “natural look” section designed to help the makeup novitiate achieve a flawless “natural” state through the help of cosmetics. In the case of the photo above, this particular “natural look” is achieved through the purchase of the cosmetics sold through the website, and the photo supports an article on the same topic. Another related article tells the reader how to achieve a “no-makeup” look with — yes — makeup.

Many might (rightfully) comment that for those of us interested in the strategies of identity, this is nothing other than a misogynist attempt to reinforce beauty standards that not only consistently denigrate women but that also seriously limits them by locating their value in their looks. While all of this is true, there are other interesting identity markers at play in these articles that make them appealing reading.

What do you see here?  How is a “natural” identity constructed?

It’s your turn.

“My Husband, Some Hot Shot”

Picture 23I saw a friend on Facebook post the following story (click the pic to read it):

Picture 25…, along with the following comment:

Well this is interesting. Ah, and “ancient wisdom” once again rears its questionable head.

Which made me think of this classic commercial from the 1970s:

I’m not sure if there could be a better way to start thinking about the rhetorical uses in the present of the discourse on the past than this commercial — for, if you ask me, this is what’s going on every time you hear the discourse on origins or antiquity being used.

Coz there’s always some hot shot trying to sell something. And sometimes, if we make it sound dusty and yellowed in just the right way, there’s always someone willing to buy it.

Picture 26

Can a State Be Fundamentalist?

Following the recent Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby, this image — created by a conservative young woman who wanted to signal defiance to American liberals — received a lot of attention:

twitter gun bible

One response was to point out that this is little different from other forms of “religious fundamentalism.” The story — posted by a friend of mine on Facebook with the comment “Checkmate” — posted a photo comparison with commentary: Continue reading

YOUR TURN: Another Sports Metaphor? Ann Coulter and Soccer

Ann  Coulter soccerPhoto credit: africasacountry.com

“Your Turn” is a new, ongoing feature at Culture on the Edge,in which we just plant the seed by picking a ripe e.g. and then soliciting and responding to your analysis.

Many of you are likely aware of the brouhaha surrounding American conservative firebrand Ann Coulter, who in the past few days has claimed not only that soccer isn’t a serious sport, but that the World Cup craze is an inherently un-American activity. You can see Coulter’s specific discussion on her website here and here.

Knowing Coulter’s penchant for highly inflammatory comments, it’s tempting to dismiss her statements as nothing but an attention-seeking gimmick. But for those of us interested in the dynamics of identity formation, we can find some very interesting data embedded in Coulter’s statements.

What do you see there?  How does Coulter’s argument operate?

It’s your turn.

It’s Your Turn

yourturnWe’re starting a new, ongoing feature here at Culture on the Edge, in which we plant the seed by picking what we think to be a ripe e.g. and then soliciting and responding to your analysis in the comments section.

So it’s your turn to join us on the edge.

Watch for “Your Turn” posts coming soon…