Stereotypes

Recognition of difference – at even the most primitive level between the ‘self’ and the ‘object’ – is controlled by our projection of ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ onto the Other. The American writer Sander L. Gilman has argued that our common tendency to create stereotypes arises out of a basic human need to cope with ‘anxieties engendered by our inability to control the world‘. Encounters with otherness result in the construction of stereotypes that operate as a means of perpetuating a sense of self-identity. However, the illusory line we draw between self and the Other is a shifting one, adjusted according to changes in our perceptions. ‘… We can move from fearing to glorifying the Other. We can move from loving to hating. The most negative stereotypes always have an overtly positive counterweight.’ (Gilman)

– by Colin Rhodes from “Other Positions”

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