Thursday, October 10, 2013

Being the Other: An Autoethnography of Cross-Cultural and Sexual Identity Experiences

Eve Kedar, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

In this autoethnographic study I present topics including othering, growing in relationships from childhood to adulthood, coming out, and developing from being othered to becoming an agent of change. These topics are presented as autoethnographic vignettes. The vignettes are critically analyzed from multiple perspectives, to provide the rich multidimensional touch points that describe our lives (Anderson, 2006; Etherington, 2007). These perspectives include Helms’ (1990) perspective on racial identity, Bussey and Bandura’s (1999) take on developmental gender identification, and Jones’ (2012) ideas for resisting homophobia in schools. Othering (Caballero, 2009; Dwyer & Buckle, 2009) is looked at as a racial, religious, gendered, and cultural phenomenon. Emigration is also discussed from the perspective of internalized oppression (Williams, 2012). In addition, LGBTQ topics are explored (Butler, 1993; Culler, 2007; Duke, 2008). My research provides content on the experiences of moving from a conformist stance toward peer acceptance, to embracing the emergent self and becoming an agent for change (Gur-Ze’ev, 2005; Jensen, 2011). Included are cross-cultural experiences as well as the impact of a militarized culture on the feminist experience (Feldman, 2000; Hauser, 2011; Klein, 2002). The implications of this research can be far reaching and include changing educational perspectives and developing policies that acknowledge othering when it happens. It is possible to other yourself, as reflected in a vignette about choosing to live in the closet rather than experience being ostracized by being true to my sexual identity. My intention is to promote a better understanding of those who are othered by themselves and by their environment. By sharing and analyzing the experiences reflected in the vignettes, it is possible to open additional educational perspectives and to celebrate diversity through shared experiences. Future research can explore the changes in perspectives of those reading these shared experiences, find additional ways to impact educational policies, and change for the better for those currently being othered within educational and employment environments. These changes can lead to educating and employing a larger pool of acceptable problem solvers who will become available to engage with the world’s complex challenges such as the environment, safe water resources, global economic structure and global health concerns.

Keywords: autoethnography, educational policy, France, identity development, Israel, Jews, LGBT, othering, sexual orientation, social advocacy, women’s studies 

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