Ever seen those? Those are Spanx brand undergarments. I’ll get to them in a minute.
I have just returned from my 20th high school reunion, which, as one might imagine, provides a cornucopia of data on identity. There were plenty of “Can you believe it’s been twenty years?” comments, the resurrection of lots of insider jokes that were much funnier long ago, and many discussions of spouses, jobs, and kids. In other words, it was an enjoyable, albeit predictable, time. Continue reading “Now You See It, Now You Don’t: On Deception and Identity”
This month marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Gettysburg is remembered as one of the most pivotal moments in the United States’ Civil War, in part for the way that momentum shifted towards the Union forces, but also because the largest number of lives were lost there than in any other battle in the conflict. Continue reading “Gettysburg, Or How (And What) We Remember”
I was at Chipotle this weekend, waiting to order my favorite fast food (crunchy chicken tacos with veggies, heavy on the corn salsa). The man behind me in line spoke fluent English to a child with him, but when it was his turn at the counter, he looked at the young female employee and began ordering in Spanish. The glitch in the plan was that while he was talking to a woman with brown skin (who, according to popular identifiers, might have a better chance of being a Spanish-speaker than others), she was not a Spanish speaker at all; in fact, as she pointed out to him, she was Asian. After a few embarrassing laughs the burrito bowls and extra guac were ordered, and everyone scooted out the door. Continue reading “Habla Espanol?”
Some of you may have seen supermodel Cameron Russell’s recent TED talk on the topic of beauty (and, more to the point, its social construction). In the talk, Russell enters the stage wearing a tight, revealing black dress and very high heels, but as the substance of her speech ensues, she quickly changes into a far more demure (not to mention much looser) skirt and sweater. Continue reading “Supermodel Blues”
One of the most interesting ways that we talk about ourselves, in my opinion, lies in the ways that we think we’re not talking about ourselves. For instance, in the courses that I teach on gender, students constantly remark that “society tells us that women need to wear makeup and tight clothing to be perceived as beautiful” at the same time as they sit before me (in makeup and tight clothing) talking about both “oppressive” practices. Continue reading “WE WON!”
Midway through the Spring semester of 2013, Leslie Dorrough Smith (on the right of the photo) accompanied a group of undergraduate students from Avila University to a variety of cities in India, including Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. The study abroad course in which the students were enrolled focused on issues of social justice. Read a post by Leslie here, discussing how, when some people (e.g., North Americans) travel to such locales, they report witnessing exploitation all around (such as the women Leslie reports who would let tourists hold their children for a picture–but for a fee). “We only see it as exploitation,” Leslie concludes, “because we have the luxury of doing so, to put it simply.”
Craig Martin and Russell McCutcheon recently co-edited an anthology on religious experience for Acumen Publishing of the UK–or better put, a collection of critical readings that takes the discourse on religious experience as its object of study, inasmuch as all scholars have to study are claims of experience, regardless the sort. And Leslie Dorrough Smith contributed the critical introductions to each reading.
During its working session in Chicago, in November 2012, the members of Culture on the Edge (pictured below) took some time to record a conversation on identity creation and its study, for The Religious Studies Project (RSP)–a series of podcasts created and maintained by UK grad students that is devoted to the work of scholars of religion from around the world.
Click here to listen to our conversation.
Apart from thanking RSP’s Christopher Cotter and David Robertson for their interest in our work, we would like to thank Andie Alexander, then a student in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, for assisting with the technology, and also thank the Department for supporting the group.)