Othering: Defining 'Us' vs. 'Them'

Pegida Frankfurt

In a sense, othering is not a new phenomenon. People have at all times defined themselves in contrast to other cultures, values, customs and, well, people. However, in recent years the process of othering has become an increasingly predominant phenomenon throughout Europe - occuring inside, as well as between European societies. Immigrants vs. natives, East vs. West, Christian vs. Muslim, left- vs. right-wing: The conflict lines are manifold and are becoming more extreme. Othering, it seems, is gradually eroding the possibilities for finding common ground. On the contrary, it serves as a mobilizing, meaningful force to identify a common cause, a common foe.

"Othering is the process of perceiving or portraying someone or something as fundamentally different or alien. Related forms of othering are racism and its relatives in all their many noxious forms. They serve to bring "us" together and make us want to fight the vague by threatening "them"." - Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Thus, at this years NECE conference, we need to ask ourselves a couple of important questions:

  • What are the causes of othering?
  • Which processes can we identify?
  • What are the consequences for citizenship education?

Further, we will ask ourselves how citizenship educators can raise awareness for processes of othering, as well as if and how we can contribute to avoiding them altogether. Furthermore we will critically reflect, in how far citizenship education may be contributing to processes of othering, by unconsciously reaffirming existing stereotypes.

For some interesing reading in advance make sure to check out the following link!

  • The Center for Otherness: A collaborative project, which works to initiate vigorous and productive interventions into nominal areas of otherness as a site for critical, socio-political, cultural, and literary exploration


Civil Society

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