Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oh Sweet Satisfaction...

Ladies and Gentleman, It is with great sadness that I announce to you this end of one of my greatest accomplishments in life..

Yes, that's right, we have fought 5 long hard years through sleep less nights, stressful mornings, afternoons and evenings.. countless words read, written, e-mailed, spoken and billions of thoughts processed at lightning speed.  Finally we have reached our destination point and the journey is coming to a close.

At exactly 2pm I walked into to the last academic moment of my undergrad... and at 4:47pm I wrote the final word of the final sentence for the final essay of my final exam for all of my undergraduate degree.

At 5pm I was out in the delicious crisp air, staring up at the glorious sun and sending up a prayer of thanks.  Every second of every minute that has passes since that moment has put distance between my past and my current future.

Although it yet to be official (at least until June 11th 2012), I am now completed all of the work required in order for the degree of Bachelor of Arts to be conferred upon me.

The relief and joy I feel is astounding!  I had my doubts about even making it to the end of last semester let alone the end of the full year and I am so thankful that I saw it through.

While i'm going to miss the university life style, my friends and colleagues and the most inspiring people I will ever be taught by, I am happy to close another chapter on my life.

I'll be waiting anxiously on pins and needles until I receive my grade point average and I hope that I have made it over the last hurdle so that nothing will prevent me from being able to graduate.  As it stands, I am 100% in the clear for graduation and I am looking forward to that day with more excitement then I have ever felt.

Here's to the future and to whatever wonderful moments await me in life!

Thanks for putting up with all of my crazy essays, terrible pictures and lack of posting when things got crazy faithful blog readers.. Cheers!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Last Essay of my University Career... Thank you Sherman Alexie :)

About 3 hours ago I submitted my final essay for CSCT 4SH3 (A.K.A a seminar on the works of Sherman Alexie). About 7 hours ago, I was working like crazy to complete 9 pages double spaced and finally be able to say I have no more essays to write for University.  Well you know when people say that it doesn't feel as good as you thought it would when you finally accomplish a goal??? They were wrong!! I am ecstatic and over the moon right now!! Finally I can breathe easy and all I have to do now is slowly prepare for my 2K06 (women's writers) cumulative final exam on the 17th and then I am Done Done!!..


okay, i'm done now :P  so I thought i'd be nice and post my last essay ever along with some pics...  I know that Spokane writer/director/poet/awesome guy Sherman Alexie is kinda a big deal so maybe he'll happen upon my essay by accident and who knows what could happen! *thinks about it* hmm.. maybe he'll post a comment! or maybe he'll sue me for putting words in his mouth... Naw it'll be fine!!  Anyway, I'm going to post it just as I submitted it to my prof.. Ι warn you now, there are some typographical errors, a 3 in the middle of a word somewhere and a few repeat words or missing words but hey, if you even read it through that far then message me to send you an edited copy cuz you'd deserve it!! So don't judge me and just enjoy.. ;)

Womanhood, Women and Female Gender Identity in Sherman Alexie’s Ten Little Indians

           In the short story “The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above” from one of his more recent works, Ten Little Indians, specific attention is paid to the representation and presentation of the modern Native woman, female-ness, womanhood and understanding of feminine gender identity.  Estelle is presented to Alexie’s readers through her son’s descriptions and documenting, and she allows us [the Canadian university student] an understanding of who the “new” Native woman is in modern [non-rez] society.  The young Native college student Corliss from “Search Engine” also provides examples for another type of portrayal of “new Native womanhood” which Alexie is presenting to his readers in comparison and in contrast to Estelle and to Sherman Alexie’s different understandings of “woman”.  To support my argument I will be discussing the following terms: womanhood, gender-identity, racial and gender stereotyping, the “gaze” and the “other”/ “exotic” which I will define using the following three cultural studies texts: Edgar and Sedgwick’s Cultural Theory The Key Concepts, O’Brien and Szeman’s Popular Culture A User’s Guide and Sturken and Cartwright’s Practices of Looking: an introduction to visual culture.  This essay will both consider and answer the following questions: How does Alexie present the women who are both traditional and modern and how does he define these two understandings of woman in his works?  Furthermore, in understanding that Alexie gives his readers the “life and times” of Estelle through a male gaze and voice, it is important to consider whether or not he is continuing to fuel the patriarchal system and history of colonialism that has and continues to place Native women on the margins.  Also, taking into consideration that the Spokane tribe, of which Alexie is a part, holds a Matriarchal social system, how might a female reader interpret the constant portrayal of women through “men’s eyes” or through the masculine perspective? Also, what is the effect of providing women and men as binary opposites, for Alexie; how might this be viewed as problematic for the reader?  This essay seeks therefore, to discuss Native women and female gender identity in Sherman Alexie’s works.    
            Estelle Walks Above is described to the reader through her son and in relation to their connection as mother and son.  In the first 2 pages of this short story, the son recounts that Estelle “was super smart […] born smart on the Spokane Indian Reservation and studied her way into the University of Washington during a time when she was pretty much the only Indian on campus” (Alexie 126).  He establishes that his mother was “heroic” and self-sufficient; “she did it all by herself, with one hand holding a textbook and the other hand holding a squealing baby to her breast” (126).  In these few sentences, Alexie has provided an understanding of who the woman Estelle is both in society and the home, and in the eyes of her son.  Slowly, Sherman Alexie works to create an identity for Estelle through her Son’s perspective which gives his readers an understanding of the Native woman off of the reservation.  It is important therefore to discuss the work that Alexie is doing to provide us with an understanding of Native women, their identity and issues surrounding Western gender norms.  As such, it is relevant to discuss the following definition of “gender” in Cultural Theory Key Concepts:
            “the concept of ‘gender’ is placed in opposition to the concept of ‘sex’ [female/male]        and […] may be taken therefore to refer to learned patterns of behaviour and action, as        opposed to that which is biologically determined.  [Therefore] the precise ways in which   women express their femininity and men express their masculinity varies from culture to       culture. Thus, qualities that are stereotypically attributed to women and men in             contemporary Western culture (such as greater emotional expression in women; greater      tendencies to violence and aggression in men) are seen as gender.” (Edgar and Sedgwick            139) 
Through this working definition, the reader will be able to understand that Alexie is pushing for construction of femininity or female gender norms in Estelle to be beyond or counter to traditional norms which include: passivity, a connection to nature, sensibility and subjective positions of power (Edgar and Sedgwick 103).  Rather, through the son, Alexie gives us Estelle’s counter-normative gender identity wherein he refers to her as “fierce and protective, open and permissive” (130).  Through this idea of womanhood or assertive female identity, Alexie is showing his readers that even the most historically and colonially marginalized subject- the Native woman- can embody a sense of self and power which places her [perhaps] above white and Native identity altogether but places her “above”.
            Along with Estelle, Alexie gives his readers the story “Search Engine” in which he presents the character Corliss and through her a sense of another type of womanhood- the Native female college student.  Through her, Alexie is able to another Native woman succeed against the baggage she is forced to carry as smart, Native, and a women.  In Estelle’s short story, the son cites that “it’s tough to be a smart girl anywhere but it’s way tough on the rez” and like Estelle, Corliss too must face this issue which unfortunately leads of her off of the reservation (Alexie 126). In the short story, Corliss describes herself as “a poor kid, and a middle-class Indian, […] destined for a minimum-wage life […] but she wanted a maximum life, an original aboriginal life, so she had fought her way out of her underfunded public high school into an underfunded public college” (Alexie 5).  Through her, the university student reader finds that Alexie is promoting strength, intelligence and self propelled work skills in 21st century womanhood for young Native women in the US and allowing a more positive perspective of women for themselves and the future.  At the same time however, Alexie reminds his readers of the challenging colonial- therefore racial and stereotypical- history that Native women are still subjected to with the young man in the coffee shop.  His perspective of Corliss is displayed purposefully and works to circulate the idea of “exoticism” and “sexualized other” that is involved with the territory of the historical colonial subjectivity of Native women in regards to white/ European men.
            To continue in this direction, it is important to consider [briefly] the definitions of the following terms: “colonialism”, “the gaze”, “exoticism” and “other”. The term “Colonialism” as Edgar and Sedgwick provide, comes to exclusively signify “the forcible invasion, occupation and administration of non-Western cultures and nations by European and North American forces” (50).  Furthermore, O’Brien and Szeman cite that “Colonialism was not just an economic and political undertaking in which European nations compete3d for dominance through the exploitation and settlement of overseas colonies [but] was also a cultural project, in which these nations sought to extend […] the concept of civilization” (239).  As a result, the “colonial vision of universality” failed its intended purpose due to the increasing popularity of “live performances by colonials […] poetry readings by Aboriginal Canadian Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) [and] sideshow displays of nude or partially clothed African women [ie.] Saarti Bartman (nicknamed “Hottentot Venus”), [functioning] to some extent as performances of stereotypical otherness, the colonials offering audiences ‘primitive’ (savage and/or innocent) reflections of their ‘civilized’ European selves (O’Brien and Szeman 239).  In relation, colonial discourse in its production of knowledge and ways of talking about “the other” has secured the identity of the imperial “self” (O’Brien and Szeman 240).  Therefore, there is a differentiation of non-western cultures and peoples from Western and/or European people which then renders them as “other”.  This understanding led Western culture into an obsession with “otherness”, creating an eroticisation of that which is deemed “other”, labelling it as “exotic”.  Sturken and Cartwright provide an understanding of this obsession with “the other” by looking at Laura Mulvey’s concept of “the gaze”; “the act of looking is commonly thought as awarding more power to the person who is looking than to the person who is the object of the look [thus] representing codes of dominance and subjugation, difference and otherness” (100).  Laura Mulvey explains that “the activity of looking, it its contradictory narcissistic and voyeuristic aspects, is coded male, while woman, connoting ‘to-be-looked-at-ness,’ is consigned to the role of object of the gaze” (O’Brien and Szeman 91).  Through the understanding of these concepts, we can see the importance of “Search Engine” character Corliss as a model for a type of “new Native womanhood”.  Alexie gives his reader Corliss as she is seen by the white male “gaze” or viewpoint which works to address her in racialized sexualized language thus objectifying her:                        “he studied her. She was very short, a few inches under five feet, maybe thirty pounds                        overweight, and plain-featured. But her skin was clear and dark brown (like good     coffee!), and her long black hair hung down past her waist. And she wore red cowboy             boots, and her breasts were large, and she knew about Auden, and she was confident             enough to approach strangers, so maybe her beauty was eccentric, even exotic. And             exoticism was hard to find in Pullman, Washington”. (4)
Although he attributes Corliss as the younger more assertive and self-sufficient [though identity crisis-ed] Native woman, Ten Little Indians has characters embracing their stereotypes to gain power from fulfilling social and cultural expectations.  Corliss embraces her Native identity, using her “otherness” or “exotic identity” as a means to both shield and reveal herself in the light of society.  She is therefore placed both in comparison and contrast to Estelle in Alexie’s hunt for defining or redefining “Native womanhood”.                
            Alexie provides the important understanding of “new Native womanhood” through Estelle Walks Above when the character decides to become a “progressive and whole woman” (131).  Though her son admits to supporting her decision, he reflects that it would have been less challenging for him as “a reflexive and cracked teenage boy […] if Estelle had pursued her wholeness by herself” (131).  This mother and son are made, by Alexie, to become best friends but that places their relationship as uncommon in Western society.  Their ability to have open discussions about sex and sexuality only works to promote what I feel Alexie is aiming for, the concept of a “progressive and whole” womanhood; “the whole woman embraces and celebrates her sexuality” (132).  While this is a positive image for Alexie to send to both his female and male readers, it is necessary to understand that life, in relation to sexuality has been problematic for Native women since Colonization.  In her book entitled Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide, author Andrea Smith provides the direct reality that Native women in the US face daily in regards to a dysfunctional Western patriarchal social system.  Judith K. Witherow, in her review of Smith’s book provides that the book highlights “truths which are related to the subject of “conquest”, to the process of deconstructive peoples, and deconstructing Native women to be of less stature and value then others” (Witherow 47).  Furthermore, Witherow cites that “as a Native woman, you can always count on someone ‘little ladying’ you, or treating you like a novelty [therefore] there is no way to build a real movement for justice and peace, whether between people, or between peoples and the land, without challenging the violence of historical and contemporary colonialism” (47).  Andrea Smith writes about “sexual violence as a tool for genocide, boarding school abuse, rape of the land, the colonization of Native women’s reproductive health, medical experimentation, spiritual appropriation as sexual violence, and anti-colonial responses to gender violence which will fill in the gaps omitted in other works” (Witherow 49).  Judith Witherow therefore presents the argument that, through Smith, all has not be forgotten or altered as of yet for Native women and sexuality, and so perhaps it is incorrect to simply read Estelle and think that Alexie is showing readers a current state or type of women who is positively enabled and not hindered in her sexuality or status as a woman within society.
            In “The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above”, an important moment occurs for both Alexie and the reader when the son describes his mother physically and then admits that his mother’s importance or relevance to society is attributed to living in the city.  Therein, he maintains that women on the reservation are unable to do what his mother has done in transforming herself into a “progressive and whole woman” (Alexie 131-133).  It can be viewed that Alexie is therefore providing a critic of life both on and off the “rez” and the space for women to change themselves in both societies.  The son tells the readers that “if we lived on the reservation, we’d be only two more Indians […] but we lived in the city, so naturally, we had a lot of white friends” and this allows his mother to spend time with white women who “as women, they’d been ‘saved’ by other women, and now they were preaching and witnessing: ‘Hear me road, I am woman!’”(Alexie 133-134).  Here, Alexie reminds his readers of the importance of solidarity between women that goes beyond racial markers but maintains the traits of cultural stereotyping and “othering” that occurs there as well.  Estelle changes her real last name from Miller to Walks Above because, as her son states, “my mother’s whole white friends loved how Indian we were, and my mother became more Indian in their presence” (Alexie 135).  Through Estelle, Alexie provides an understanding of how life is or could be for a Native woman in the city versus “on the rez, [where] she was that smart and strange girl who was always preparing to leave, and was loved by many and respected by most, but [who] became a wise woman in the presence of her white friends” (136).  Estelle’s relationship with her “white disciples” becomes problematized by the pain and memory of the colonised history, the violence and abuse of her people and ethnocentric eroticisation of Native people by modern way white people (Alexie 136).  The son recounts that “despite my mother’s sarcasm and racism, most of her friends are liberal white women! And most of my friends are liberal white men! My mother I are the hostages of colonial contradictions” (140).  Alexie reminds his readers that the Native womanhood of Estelle, much like that of Corliss, places her in a strangely dislocated space in literature, society and culture; she has no choice but to transcend the stereotype by accepting or embracing it, and must carry her painful history as cumbersome baggage on her back while holding the hands of the future but Walk[ing] Above the Native and the Western identity, culture and life.       
               Sherman Alexie’s Ten Little Indians allows him the space in which to work through the challenges of Native womanhood and female identity.  He allows the following depictions of Native womanhood: the younger generation’s college Native woman, struggling with identity and cultural/social conflicts in Corliss along with Agnus from The Business of Fancy Dancing and Marie Polatkin in Indian Killer.  Through them Alexie is working to develop his own feelings in relation to the “modern educated Native woman”, while comparatively and in contrast to the type of womanhood that he gives within Estelle Walks Above.  While he is aware of the double marginality of Native women in society, he works to give them a voice as much as possible through “romantic” “dreamer”, hopefully figures of the mother, the college student  and the traditional grandmother, moving away from the “romantic victim” but rather showing how one should handle one’s self in [a] community (whichever that may be).  As previously discussed in relation to Corliss, the female characters throughout Ten Little Indians embrace their stereotypes and gain power from fulfilling the expectations placed on them culturally.  As a result however, Alexie pushes the reader back towards exoticism and remembers the woman as the [or an] object for exoticisation and colonisation with the women depicted as mothers, poor, marginalized, as housewives and as sexual beings, healers and teachers.  Sherman Alexie works to break the stereotypes and have his female characters be like anyone and everyone else, and to fit them into the general category, away from the sole category of “Indian”.

Works Cited
Alexie, Sherman. Ten Little Indians. New York, NY: Grove Press. 2003. Print.
Edgar, Andrew and Peter Sedgwick. Cultural Theory The Key Concepts. New York, NY:    
    Routledge. 2008. Print.
O’Brien, Susie and Imre Szeman. Popular Culture A User’s Guide. Toronto, ON: Nelson. 2010
Sturken, Marita and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking an introduction to Visual Culture.    
     NewYork US: Oxford UP. 2003. Print.
Witherow, Judith K. Review: “Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide” by  
     Andrea Smith.  Off Our Backs. 35.11/12 (2005) : 46-49. JSTOR. Web. 7 April 2012.

Thanks again Sherman Alexie... you're the greatest! <3

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Almost done University.. crazy!

Easter has been a crazy time for me and my family as per usual- the church thing really kept us running around and exhausted! Luckily no one got sick though, which is a family first.. although the 3 days full moon had us all in headaches and swallowing advil in every sip of water but *sigh* thank God it's over!

On top of it all I have been working like crazy to get my final assignments completed in time for tomorrow's submission date.  Last Wednesday was my final day of classes for my university career but I had to sing at a funeral so I didn't attend..  :(  Oh well, it's over without much pomp or circumstance and as much as I am nervous, the relief is just amazing! Sadly its only been short lasting since I still have to essays for my seminars and a final exam for my full year course to write.. cumulative too- as in, remember everything you've learned since September 2011 and be able to recognize cite passages by author and explain.. come on! there's only 300 authors and corresponding stories/poems, it's easy! SO NOT. Come April 17th midnight it will all be over and all my pain and suffering through essays, response papers, readings, lectures, tutorials and seminars will be a thing of the past :D

So beyond my crazy weekend, I managed to spend a total of 3 days working on my essay for CSCT 4HC3 (a.k.a the history of Cultural Studies seminar) and let me tell you it was no easy feat!  First I had to come up with a topic from nowhere, and the make sure it was a well researched, interesting argument about either something in the history of cultural studies or cultural studies that dealt with questions of urgency.. definitely took a lot out of me.. I spent half an hour out of my Holy Saturday vigil mass editing the 4 single spaced pages that I'd written hours before.. not to mention some of the homily in today's Easter Sunday mass finishing it up- and I didn't even get to the 4th page entirely! Thankfully my Bestest Best Friend agreed to read it over for me tonight, I couldn't/can't look at another sentence!

So just so you understand all the research work and the labour I took in writing the darn thing I've decided to post some pictures followed by my actual essay- pre submission and pre-conclusion lol

Enjoy! and please, keep ur negative comments to yourself!!(hehe)

Ethnocentrism and Urgency: The Importance of Challenging Post 9/11 Stereotypes
            The history of cultural studies seminar focused on a number of articles this term which shed light on the effects of terrorism on Western society, specifically in the United States of America where ethnocentrism and therefore racism and racial stereotyping have increased since the terrorist attacks on the world trade centre on 9/11.  The Jasbir Puar’s article “The Turban is Not a Hat: Queer Diaspora and Practices” focuses on the call for understanding and the willingness to gain knowledge on the difference between the “terrorist” Muslim and the peaceful Sikh on account of visual differences regarding the religious headwear of Sikh and Muslim men- the turban.  Puar asks the reader, in this case, the Canadian university student to consider the direct effects that 9/11 had and continues to have on non-white or “othered” bodies in regards to colonial and orientalist history of the West towards Indian culture.  In a similar way, Angela Failler’s article ‘Remembering the Air India Disaster: Memorial and Counter-Memorial” provides the Canadian example on the subject of ethnocentrism and racist stereotyping which has arisen in the “West”, post 9/11 and seeks to present the effects of terrorist action on Canadians of both Indian and non-Indian descent.  In order to examine more closely the Western ideology of people in the east and the relation of those in the east to the ideologies surrounding race, identity and social alienation this essay will provide working definitions for the following terms: ethnocentrism, stereotype, orientalism, racism and the “other”.  Furthermore, it will attempt to bring forward the problems involved in stereotyping as they arise within the issues of racism and the subjection of certain bodies [in this case, the non-white body] as object and subject of what Laura Mulvey termed “the gaze” as well as in relation to Edward Said’s term Orientalism.  Through examining Puar and Failler’s articles in relation to the aforementioned ideologies, this essay will provide an understanding of the work of cultural studies within the issues and questions surrounding race and identity as they are related to, and effect ethnocentrism along with cultural acceptance and alienation.
                     When approaching subject matter relative to post 9/11, it is important that the cultural theorist or cultural studies student attain and work through a common understanding and definition for the term “ethnocentrism” which will enable them to examine more clearly the accounts of events that lead towards the mislabelling and stereotyping various cultural groups.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term ethnocentric (ethnocentricity, ethnocentrism) in two ways: “ethnocentric: 1 evaluating other races and cultures by criteria specific to one’s own, 2 believing in the inherent superiority of one’s own race or culture” (OED).  Relatively, Edgar and Sedgwick’s Cultural Theory The Key Concepts defines “ethnocentrism” as: “the tendency to refer exclusively to one’s own cultural values and practices, even if engaged with others who may not share those values [and] likewise, the tendency to describe and judge the systems of value and dominant practices of other cultures from the standpoint of one’s own” (115).  The definition given also maintains that “such an attitude has connections with the stereotyping of others and can be a feature of racism and prejudice” (115).  While the OED definition gives a more concise definition, Edgar and Sedgwick provide a working definition which, being more than theory, rather allows for the student to understand the practice, cause and effect of “ethnocentrism”.  The issue arises when, in the case of mistaken identity the non-Sikh or non-Muslim American/Canadian person allows themselves to retain and put into practice the mind frame of ethnocentrism.  The opinion of the ethnocentric person translates the presence of an “other” or different person and relegates that presence to a position of inferiority and direct opposition with their own self and social, cultural or political position that then renders that presence as an object and not a subject.  Therefore, as Puar cites through Butler and Ahmed, “hate does not reside in a given subject or object [but rather] it circulates between signifiers in relationships of difference and displacement” (184).  Furthermore, “the challenge [of] localizing fear in a body [offers that] the feared body occurs through a visual racial regime as well as the impossibility of containment of feared bodies” (Puar 184).  The author also provides that “the anxiety of this impossibility of containment subtends the relegation of fear to a distinct object, producing the falsity of a feared object [and therefore inhibits] the nonresidence of emotions, their circulation between bodies, that binds subjects together, creating pools of suspicious bodies” (Puar 184).  This presence is therefore taken as a literal object and this causes the spark of ‘contagion’ wherein there is little to no differentiation made between a turbaned Sikh man and a turbaned Muslim man, with racist sentiments then stemming from purely visual findings.  As a result, it is the work of cultural theorists and students to understand and breakdown the questions of why and how race is purely a visual finding and whether or not differentiation will help to end that racism.
            To further understand the idea that racism, ethnocentrism and racial stereotyping [along with sexism and homophobia] stem from visual difference, it is important to understand exactly why and how physical cultural distinctions or interpretations affect cultural identity.  While Puar suggests that ‘seeing’ race or the ‘vision of race’ can be used to combat the issues of ethnocentrism, racism etc, the author also struggles with what she provides as a mistaken identity clause wherein Sikh groups attempt to gain acceptance by showing themselves as counter to or different from ‘Muslims’ (169).  While the non-Sikh or non-Muslim Canadian/American places a label of “other” on both Sikh’s and Muslims, it is necessary to consider the issues of representation, exoticism and “Other” as they pertain to and affect ethnocentrism and racism.  In O’Brien and Szeman’s text Popular Culture a user’s guide, the concept of “other” and more specifically the representation of the Other is defined as follows: “popular visual culture, has traditionally worked to reinforce and accentuate the cultural code of masculine dominant and female subjection by spectacularizing difference and inequality [and] much the same thing occurs in the representation of minorities, whole visible embodiment of difference has serves, like the category of femininity, to shore up the dominant- white, masculine-code of identity” (90-91).  Furthermore they cite that “like the female body, the non—white body, both male and female, has historically served the function as spectacle, a site for projection of fear and desire in the form of stereotypes” (91). Therefore in order to understand the cause and effect of cultures [viewed and thought after as] “other”, we must examine the following two theories: Edward Said’s term Orientalism and Laura Mulvey’s concept of “the gaze”.  Once the definitions of these two terms have been clarified, it will be easier to see how the ‘specular’ is relied upon for these “othered” groups or individuals (Dean, 2012). 
            Laura Mulvey’s theory of “the gaze” and Edward Said’s concept of orientalism and have been used side by side within various areas of cultural studies for reasons which this essay also seeks to illustrate: that the relationship between “East” and “West” in colonial history has caused a want or seeking of the exotic and has placed non-white people as subjects of interest for white men [specifically]. In Practices of Looking: an introduction to visual culture, Sturken and Cartwright provide an understanding of both “the gaze” and of “exotic” through the use of paintings/images by white men involving non-white women from Tahiti and Papua New Guinea:
                   These paintings also produce meanings of discourses of race, gender, and   colonialism [and] the women in [the] painting’s are specifically coded as other, in  particular as the exotic other who represent a world supposedly unspoiled by modern  civilization, a paradise.  The race of the women is marked [so that they are viewed as]   exotic, different, and other” in accordance with the binary oppositions of      civilization/nature, white/other, and male/female. (Sturken and Cartwright 100-102)
Sturken and Cartwright provide their reader with the concept of “the gaze” defining it in relation to the position of women in films as presented objects of what Mulvey terms the “male gaze” (76).  They provide that “the concept of the gaze is fundamentally about the relationship of pleasure and images; in Mulvey’s theory, the camera is used as a tool of voyeurism [or the pleasure in looking while not being seen], disempowering those before its gaze” (Sturken and Cartwright 76).  Furthermore, “the image convention of depicting women as objects of the gaze and men as lookers continues to exist today [and] this convention has many cultural and social implications” (Sturken and Cartwright 80-81).  While Sturken and Cartwright allow that “the concept of the gaze is not restricted to questions of subjectivity and spectators [there are] also ways of thinking about institutional gazes, which have the capacity to establish relationships of power and to affect individuals within them” (93).  It is in this understanding that we can return to the issue of Sikh vs Muslim mistaken identity and causes of visual racial stereotyping and “other-ing”.  The white male in this case is the “looker” according to Mulvey, and the Turbaned non-white male is the subject and object of the white man’s gaze.  Therefore as Puar cites, “the turban, and the body that it sits upon” becomes not only a subject for viewing but a site through which gender, therefore masculinity and sexuality are read and questioned (168).  The question from the Canadian university student: how does this excuse or enable racial stereotyping?
            Puar’s article provides an interesting relationship for ethnocentrism, racism and the non-white identity with Edward Said’s concept of “orientalism” as she allows her reader [the Canadian University student] to understand the “double movement” which has been enabled for the “queer South Asian diasporas” (169-70).  As such, it is important to understand Said’s concept to then comprehend what this double movement allows.  O’Brien and Szeman provide that “Edward Said uses the term Orientalism to describe a dominant form of colonial discourse in which a mythologized East, or “Orient”, becomes a site for the projection of Western fantasies of otherness as well as a mechanism for Western domination of actual non-Western cultures” (240).  The text further informs the reader that:
                   Orientalism consists of a repertoire of images and ideas that produce ‘the Orient’ as   an               object of Western knowledge and control.  Disseminated through a variety of  institutionalized forms [and which] draws on a bank of stereotypical (and frequently inconsistent) qualities- inscrutability, deviousness and treachery, religious    fundamentalism and immorality, violence, and excessive delicacy and effeminacy- in  order to construct ‘the oriental’ as a fixed, unchanging other, lacking subjectivity or  internal variation and condensed in binary opposition to Western consciousness and  culture.  At the same time [serving] to mark the absolute otherness of Eastern people [and] turning other cultures into objects of Western knowledge. (O’Brien and Szeman   240)
Through this definition, Puar’s discussed “double moment: an invitation to  participate in and reproduce narratives of U.S queer exceptionalism in contradistinction to perverse (Orientalist) and repressed (neo-Orientalist human rights discourse) sexualities of the East [in the queering of terrorist populations of the sexually perverse brown terrorist]: the body or object”- the turban and the body it is attached to (Puar 169).  Therefore, the “turban” itself affects not only one’s notion of person, race or culture but of “queer” and sexuality as well (Dean 2012). 
            The ethnocentric person, as Edgar and Sedgwick propose features strongly in creating cultural stereotypes and racism which “play a significant role in shaping the attitudes of members of [one] culture to others” (336).  It is within their definition of the term “stereotype” that the Canadian university student can see the effect that ethnocentrism has on multi-cultural societies [specifically “Western society”]: “a stereotype is an oversimplified and usually value-laden view of the attitudes, behaviours and expectation of a group or individual [wherein] such views may be deeply embedded  in sexist, racist or otherwise prejudiced cultures, and are typically highly resistant to change” (Edgar and Sedgwick 337).  As this definition explains, the ethnocentric person contributes to a general stereotyping of a culture or cultures and these labels are then carried over into every aspect of society therefore causing problems for anyone who may fit into the stereotype or definition associated with certain cultures physically, behaviourally and so on.  Furthermore, it is important to understand that the ethnocentric person themselves if also subject to the culture in which they are raised with all of its norms, values, practices and practical theories that contribute to the continuation of racist, stereotypical behaviour.  
            As a result, systemic racism which has been created through a history of and perpetuated by ongoing cultural stereotypes becomes common place, so that post 9/11 Americans have turned towards any non-white individual or cultural group with violence and ignorance. In Angela Failler’s article “Remembering the Air India Disaster: Memorial and Counter Memorial”, the author reminds her reader [in this case the Canadian university student] that Canada [relatively] though needing a better anti-terrorist aim, cannot escape the past which oppresses the present but rather, that Canadians can choose whether or not to perpetuate the same ideas as those in past.  Also, as discussed in seminar, perhaps the author is asking the student to consider the need to create a true and well-rounded inclusive history involving every angle and side of a situation which should then be written by many authors of varying experience and voice (Dean 2012).  Although, will it be enough if the ethnocentric voice is excluded from history?  The hope is that racism, stereotyping and ultimately ethnocentrism itself will disappear from society but then theorists and students of cultural studies have to be putting the theories into practice with no space for error or incorrect thought.  Ultimately, where would the “Western” societies [Canada/ the United States of America] gain their understanding of “culture” [Culture] if there were no diversity present?  The challenge therefore lies in the need to find a space within “Western” [C]culture for the acceptance [and/or] tolerance of non-Western [or Eastern], or “Other” bodies, cultures and ultimately peoples for the sake of a world that should be unified [especially] in the aftermath of tragedies and terrorism.          

Works Cited:

Dean, Amber. “Remembering the Air India Disaster: memorial and counter-memorial”. CSCT

            4HC3. McMaster U: Hamilton. 13 February 2012. Seminar.

Dean, Amber. “The Turban is Not a Hat: queer diaspora and practices of profiling”. CSCT

            4HC3. McMaster U: Hamilton. 13 February 2012. Seminar.

“Ethnocentric.” The Canadian Oxford Paperback Dictionary. Ed. Alex Bisset. 2000. Print.

Edgar, Andrew and Peter Sedgwick. Cultural Theory The Key Concepts. New York, NY:    
     Routledge. 115-364. 2008. Print.

Failler, Angela. “Remembering the Air India Disaster: Memorial and Counter Memorial”.              Cultural Studies/Critical Theory 4HC3. Ed. Amber Dean. Hamilton: McMaster U. 79-         105. 2012. Print

O’Brien, Susie and Imre Szeman. Popular Culture A User’s Guide. Toronto, ON: Nelson. PAGE             2010  Print.

Puar, Jasbir. The Turban is Not a Hat: Queer Diaspora and Practices”. Cultural Studies and            Critical Theory 4HC3. Ed. Amber Dean. Hamilton: McMaster U. 95-113. 2012. Print.

Sturken, Marita and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking an introduction to Visual Culture.         NewYork US: Oxford UP. 76-106. 2003. Print.





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