The Role of Cultural Introspection in College Teaching
Edited By Susan Diana Longerbeam and Alicia Fedelina Chávez
Chapter Twenty-Three: The Power of Identity
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CHAPTER TWENTY - THREE
The Power OF Identity
Educational Specialties Northern Arizona University
What is identity? I am tempted to answer, “it all depends.” It depends on what the topic of the conversation is, if I am referring to social or personal identity, if I am engaged in a colloquial conversation or in an academic conversation, etc. Borrowing from Fearon (1999), I would say that identity is a social category that identifies membership and attributes; but it can also be said that identity is a set of specific personal characteristics that distinguish an individual and may produce feelings of pride and self-respect. In this document, I will refer to my identity as an immigrant to the United States, with the attributes that affords me, but I will also refer to my individual identity and the characteristics that generate a range of feelings: from being proud to feelings of inadequacy and everything in between.
I grew up in Mexico in a dusty town that was part of a conglomerate of three distinct and different towns that ran across state lines. When referring to the three towns, they are called “La Laguna”—The Lagoon—even though they are in the middle of the country, inland, and with no water bodies other than a river that ran through and was used for agricultural purposes. There were more than 300,000 inhabitants collectively in the three towns...
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