Anti-Essentialism Very Interesting. This Is Particularly True, Essay

Length: 2 pages Subject: Sports - Women Type: Essay Paper: #84106839 Related Topics: Interest Groups, Feminism, Colonialism, Merit Pay
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … anti-essentialism very interesting. This is particularly true, when one focuses on the many contentious debates regarding racial and gender equality in America. For example, an essentialist understanding of an indigenous identity would focus on surviving cultural traits, those practices and customs, objects and ideas that have survived colonialism with little or no change. Narayan and Williams explain that cultural norms are not universal however. They state that meaning is generated through the relationship between signs. In regards to cultural identity, individuals within a particular culture are different and unique. Words are not held to have referents with essential or universal qualities. More importantly, according to Narayan, categories change their meanings according to time, place and usage. It is this context, that meaning is therefore derived.

This anti-essentialism aspect is too simplistic however. How do we, as observes, distinguish between minor and significant changes in a particular trait or culture? It is my belief that many of these aspects, if they change, change too slowly for any of us to perceive the change. This is especially true for outside observers who are not in a

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This becomes even more contentious when race and emotion becomes involved.

It is therefore my belief that an understanding of indigenous identity is one that is not fixated on traits, but focused on struggle. This struggle is the catalyst that renews traits and culture. An example of these interpretations of anti-essentialism can be derived from the women's movement towards equal pay in America. The central issue in feminist controversies over essentialism was whether there are any shared characteristics common to all women, which unify them as a group. This was particularly important as women would be better able to present a more unified and cooperative brand to the public. However, many leading feminist thinkers of the 1970s and 1980s rejected essentialism as a form of fighting for women's rights. They acted in this manner on the grounds that universal claims about women are invariably false. Much like Narayan and Williams stated in their works, categories change their meanings over time. In addition, I believe that struggle ultimately can redefine these cultural traits. This instance is no different.

However, this notion soon diminished in the 1990's as anti-essentialism undercut the collective activities that motivated women to stick together. Essentially as women struggled to make a solid movement,…

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It is therefore my belief that an understanding of indigenous identity is one that is not fixated on traits, but focused on struggle. This struggle is the catalyst that renews traits and culture. An example of these interpretations of anti-essentialism can be derived from the women's movement towards equal pay in America. The central issue in feminist controversies over essentialism was whether there are any shared characteristics common to all women, which unify them as a group. This was particularly important as women would be better able to present a more unified and cooperative brand to the public. However, many leading feminist thinkers of the 1970s and 1980s rejected essentialism as a form of fighting for women's rights. They acted in this manner on the grounds that universal claims about women are invariably false. Much like Narayan and Williams stated in their works, categories change their meanings over time. In addition, I believe that struggle ultimately can redefine these cultural traits. This instance is no different.

However, this notion soon diminished in the 1990's as anti-essentialism undercut the collective activities that motivated women to stick together. Essentially as women struggled to make a solid movement, they needed to change. The struggle for women, I believe was the catalyst for this change. Essentialism was therefore resurrected in an effort to align the political necessity of feminism with that of the behaviors of women throughout the United States. Currently, as the women's movement for equal pay continues to become a contentious issue, it will be interesting to see how the collective actions of women correspond to an anti-essentialism mandate, or one of essentialism.

I found the theories of Narayan and Williams interested from a gender specific qualification, but also from a racial perspective as well. Barker explains that post-structuralsists believe that meanings are culturally derived and always subject to different interpretations. I believe racial tension in America can be a response to different interpretation. An example would be the use of the N word in African America culture as oppose to white culture. In the past, the N word was used to denote a condescending and negative tone towards African-Americans. I was a means of control, which was exerted by a group of individuals on another group of individuals. According to Barkers theories however, the power of the N word has diminished substantially as it often used as an expression of love and friendship between African-Americans. It is used as a way of understanding what an African America is going through in a racist world. It is used to connote an understanding of the struggle that many African-Americans still must endure unfortunately. Not only is the meaning in both instances culturally derived, the interpretation of the exact same word is completely different. What was once a word that is used to destroy in one context has been used to express a bond and understanding in another? Barker's theory appears to be 100% correct in this regard.


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