Strange Encounters was a difficult read, with layers of insight of how we understand ourselves in context to strangers or the other others Using a feminist and post colonial lens, Ahmed traces how we center ourselves and create a hierarchy of otherness and strangers using different means some of which areand less strange andor less threatening A fascinating and complex read meant to be re examined and re read many times over. Examining The Relationship Between Strangers, Embodiment And Community, Strange Encounters Challenges The Assumptions That The Stranger Is Simply Anybody We Do Not Recognize And Instead Proposes That He Or She Is Socially Constructued As Somebody We Already Know Using Feminist And Postcolonial Theory This Book Examines The Impact Of Multiculturalism And Globalization On Embodiment And Community Whilst Considering The Ethical And Political Implication Of Its Critique For Post Colonial FeminismA Diverse Range Of Texts Are Analyzed Which Produce The Figure Of The Stranger , Showing That It Has Alternatively Been Expelled As The Origin Of Danger Such As In Neighbourhood Watch, Or Celebrated As The Origin Of Difference As In Multiculturalism The Author Argues That Both Of These Standpoints Are Problematic As They Involve Stranger Fetishism They Assume That The Stranger Has A Life Of Its Own Ahmed posits that before either the self or other, there is the encounter.Both self and other arise in the after image of its initiation.The self then, can be nothingthan its embodied interactions, and the other, its counter image, its double Ahmed also looks into the phenomenon of stranger danger, positing that to recognise a stranger, is to already have captured a false Otherness into discourse.The stranger, rather than being utterly unknown, is in fact, always already predicated on recognisable attributes e.g the gendered and racialised depictions of terrorists since the end of the Cold War, into 9 11.The stranger then, is kept at distance by its very proximity our ability to discern strangeness.They are included but utterly alienated. In Strange Encounters Sara Ahmed posits a critique against ontology s relationship between subject and other, or in this case the stranger Ahmed rightfully asserts that some bodies are already inherently marked as strangers because of this flawed phenomenon of seeing the strangeness in an individual p 4 as oppose to seeing individuals as potential friends p 155 Viewing a stranger or other as a friend is what Ahmed calls an ethical encounter, a concept that she derives from the work of Levinas and Derrida For this ethical encounter to be effective, Ahmed turns to affect theory in an effort to state that if we can feel each other s pain and feel, or empathize, with each others desires we may be able to face each other in a manner that allows room for differences to flourish and not diminish in an effort to assimilate the other In addition, Ahmed is careful to acknowledge that space and or spatio temporal environments affect one s subject positionality in the world This, for me, is a crucial concept to understand when dealing with any literature on subject formation Race, gender, class, and sexuality all play a role in forming identity, addressing the space in which an individual exists in is just as important I would argue this is particularly true amongst minoritarian subjects who navigate whose identity is affected by their environment This is to state that an individual may have one identity amongst similar identity affirming friends be that race, gender, etc constructed and may have a different identity or outlook of their identity in a non identity affirming environment This phenomenon is what Harvey Young states as habitus Ahmed s book, in this case, works in a nice dialogue with other critical race theory texts to expand upon this issue While there is much that I agree with in Ahmed s argument, her book would have benefitted greatly from ain depth critique of ontology and or a deeper use of scholars who have critiqued ontology, but I suppose that is what her book Queer Phenomenology is for though. On point.
Sara Ahmed is a feminist writer, scholar, and activist Her research is concerned with how bodies and worlds take shape and how power is secured and challenged in everyday life worlds, as well as institutional cultures.
- 228 pages
- Strange Encounters : Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality
- Sara Ahmed
- 11 July 2017 Sara Ahmed