“Who Are You?” asks members of Culture on the Edge to reflect on one of their own many identities (whether national, gendered, racial, familial, etc.), theorizing at the same time the self-identification that they each chose to discuss.
Identities are weird things. Presumably, telling you my identity lets you draw up associations and predictions about me and my behavior based on that identity, as well as sympathies or antipathies, depending perhaps on whether or not you share the identity at hand. So here goes: I was a Wednesday baby. That’s right—I was born on a Wednesday. Crazy, right? I’m one of them.
Too random, perhaps? It’s an arbitrary point from which you can’t draw any conclusions about me? Would you prefer to know how much melanin I have in my body? The longitude and latitude coordinates of my birth? How many times I’ve circled the sun? Maybe the amount of melanin can tell you whether I’m liable to prefer rock or hip hop? Maybe the latitude and longitude of my birth can tell you whether I’m a brash like an American or reserved like a Brit? Maybe from the number of times I’ve circled the sun you could figure out if I’m likely to be loyal to my employer like a baby boomer or distrustful of authority like a Gen Xer? Could you draw out some behavioral predictions from those things?
In the abstract, are the amount of melanin in my body, the latitude and longitude of my birth, or the number of times I’ve circled the sun any less random than the day of the week on which I was born? Perhaps what distinguishes these former things is that they’re tied to social practices in a way that latter is not? It seems there’s almost nothing that can’t be made socially relevant.