Oscar Thomas-Olalde / Astride Velho: Othering and its Effects – Exploring the Concept
Othering and its Effects – Exploring the Concept Oscar Thomas-Olalde and Astride Velho, University of Innsbruck, Austria Othering has been established as key concept of postcolonial theory, and as such it has also found entry into critical analyses of racism. In this context, Othering is defined as a process in which, through discursive practices, different subjects are formed, hegemonic subjects – that is, subjects in powerful social positions as well as those subjugated to these powerful conditions. To arrive at such an ana- lytic description, however, some measure of abstraction is required, because Othering denotes simultaneously both the features of discourse structures and processes, and the formation of subjectivity engendered by such discourse. Our contribution focuses on ways in which these two moments constitute each other. In specialised discussions, but increasingly within everyday communication as well, the term Othering is used to refer to phenomena of stereotyping and ra- cialisation. This incorporation of the term into everyday language runs the risk of diminishing the analytic precision of the concept. Therefore we have em- barked on a quest for theoretical insights and connections that have been funda- mental in the development of the concept Othering. Our objectives are, first, to delineate a number of relevant theoretical approaches, and second, to ponder the analytical potential and effects of the concept. Based on the psychoanalytical concepts of Jacques Lacan, the term Othering was re-coined by Gayatri Chakra- vorty Spivak in the context of postcolonial theory, and since then it has been widely applied, in particular...
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