Σάββατο, 11 Μαρτίου 2017

Identity: representations and practices Editors Silvia Valencich Frota Marianela Barrios Aquino

Editors’ introduction

Marianela Barrios Aquino  Silvia Frota

University of Sussex University of Lisbon


This there is at least one point that seems to reach agreement: the inter -
disciplinary nature of the study of identity and the necessity thereof.
By interdisciplinarity we mean the possibility presented by the fertile
space between disciplines (McGregor, 2005:4 ) to shed some light upon
the subject of identity, that is to say, to conduct identity studies using
theoretical and methodological frameworks developed under the scrutiny
of different disciplines will result in a unified body of knowledge beyond
that of the individual disciplines. Ideally, the interdisciplinary nature of
the work is such, that “the sum of its parts, the whole has totally different
properties, to the point that the original contributions are no longer
identifiable” (McGregor, 2005:5 ), thus becoming one single, coherent body
of knowledge. This is also first and foremost the perspective of this book,
and the authors here included have greatly succeeded in establishing a
coherent and consistent dialogue between the disciplines involved in their
research.
Although interdisciplinary research seems to be a desired reality, the
realization of this principle should not be taken for granted. As a matter
of fact, in our perspective, it is still an issue to be considered and its success -
ful application should be celebrated as a great success in mediation, to be
attributed to the researcher. Sometimes — perhaps more often than not
— academic prejudice prevails and researchers from different fields look
at each other with a certain lack of confidence or at least with a certain
awkwardness.
We are not only referring to the broader philosophical, theoretical or
ideological side of interdisciplinary work. Instead we are set to consider
some practices that underlie academic fields and that are set in motion
almost surreptitiously /unconsciously. What makes a paper readable?
Which are the criteria or characteristics that determine the quality of a
paper in an academic perspective? What kind of language, structure and
content should an academic paper have? Is there an academic culture or
even an academic identity that should run through all the papers/works
that want to be considered “academic”? Entitled to the academic label?
And where does that ‘culture’ come from?
However, while although the vast majority of scholars would probably
agree upon the value of diversity, the respect of differences, the un avoidable
and healthy, prolific, productive ampleness of interdisciplinary work, they
would probably demand a common ground, something that would make
those texts recognizable as academic papers, infused with academic value.


We are not sure, however, that they would agree upon the content of this
“common ground”.
By highlighting this controversy, we are not defending the idea that
there should be no rules. Nor are we stating that every text could or should
be granted the title of academic. We are just highlighting the fact that
difference, awkwardness, and conflict is and will be present in an inter -
disciplinary project. Furthermore, we wanted this book to act as a platform
for various voices of authors from different academic disciplines and social
contexts, simply because their voices communicate a presence behind the
written words (Narayan, 2012 ).
This is an attempt to question certain conventions about academic
writing holding the belief that we are now in what is called a post process in
pedagogy, where “the focus has shifted from an emphasis on the cognitive
processes of textual production to an emphasis on the social dimensions
of writing as a cultural activity” (Atkinson, 2003 in Flowerdew, Wang,
2015:82 ). We believe that this approach is ideal to mirror the current state
of the art in identity studies, with scholars producing and developing
research within the widest varieties of cultural contexts of academic
production.
We also tried to gather different and complementary topics and
approaches in order to provide a wider overview of identities studies
currently. The result of these strategies, ideological positionings and
efforts is a set of very distinctive texts, with different languages, narratives,
approaches, perspectives, and their particular context of production. This
book does not attempt to establish “new theories of identity” but it aims
to be the proof that identity studies are a prolific space of knowledge
creation, where the most variegated disciplines can solve a piece of the
puzzle.
We are aware of the risks inherent to this eclectic position. But we also
believe that these risks are more than offset by the opportunities that arise
from them.
This book is therefore addressed to those researchers familiar with
identity issues and interested in enlarging their view of Identity Studies.
We hope they can find inspiration and new resources from these readings.
It is also suitable for those researchers that are interested on working with
this subject in the future. For them, we believe the present selection
of papers may provide a wider horizon for their work and a rich sample of
possibilities.

In the first chapter, Adrian Holliday looks at how identity practices
and representations travel across cultural borders. Holliday’s article states
that the construction of cultural identities implies the acquisition of
certain symbolic tools that will become mobile with the subject, enabling
them to be transported from one cultural setting to another and thus be -
coming powerful resources in the engagement with new cultural contexts.
Further more, Holliday acknowledges and further explores the challenges
presented in those situations, such as prejudice, hegemony of western
visions of culture and essentialist perspectives of world representations.
Throughout this chapter, the author locates those discourses within our
everyday practices. From a very aware position of the researcher within
the researched subject, the author combines sociological, political and
anthropological tools to pay attention to discursive and linguistic constructions 
and representations of cultural identities and their embodiment in
the complexities of everyday life.
In chapter two, Madinabeitia introduces concepts of identity construction 
in the Basque diaspora in the United States. She explores notions
of centre and periphery in the construction of a national identity, further -
more she explores the cultural elements produced abroad that contribute
to the reproduction of the Basque national identity at home. A key point
of interest in this paper is the possibility of an identity of the diaspora,
the Basque diaspora. Furthermore, the appropriation of symbols and the
on-going construction of identity processes regardless of time (generations
in the diaspora ) and territory (outside the geographical territory of the
nation ) are key points of analysis in her research. The sociological value
of the use of knowledge from cultural studies as well as migration studies,
contribute to an in depth observation of a collective that defies concepts
of nation-state, transnationalism and the time-space duality.
In the third chapter, with a flair for Elias’ sociology of the small things
and an in depth knowledge of concept of cultural studies, Peter Stanković
and Alenka Švab analyse the inclusion of everyday practices and their
meaning in the habitus development of the people and their national
identity construction as well as underlying justifications. They explain
Bourdieu’s “taste of necessity” with Slovenian historical background and
construction of national identity, providing a political context for the
historical nature of identity construction.
In chapter four Micaela Aguiar combines applied linguistics and
political science in order to carry out a discourse analysis of the dictatorial
image of the President in inaugural addresses given during the Portuguese
military dictatorship. This research explores the communication of specific
traits and symbols that the regime intended to be part of a Portuguese
national identity, resorting to psych-social and socio-political strategies
such as influencing social opinion, encouraging behaviour and imposing
ideology.
In the fifth chapter, Julia Ludewig analyses through a qualitative study
how the New Criticism (20th century school of literary criticism ) negotiated
collective and individual identities through the literary analyses of its
members. Based on selected published writings by three key members
of this group, this study concludes that micro-identities exist within disci -
plines and form around gendered practices, in this case written discourse.
This chapter provides an important reflection that points to the fact that
identity studies benefit from a wide theoretical framework, which includes
the analysis of socio-intellectual movements and linguistic methods.
In chapter six, Maria Krebber analyses the discursive construction
of power relations and gender roles in Portuguese families. Drawing on
theory from gender studies, applied linguistics and sociology, the study
performs an in depth analysis of interviews using Systemic Functional
Analysis. The author reveals that identity negotiation processes within the
family mirror and reproduce ideological and political discourses present
in Portuguese traditions.
Konstantinos Gogalis in chapter seven explores the development of
social capital in a virtual context among young Internet users, specifically
within a social media platform, providing an opportunity to reflect about
identity within an alternative space of interaction. Furthermore, the author
analyses the value given by the social media users to relationships developed
within a virtual context in contrast with those developed outside that
virtual context. How those “virtual relationships” become associated with
the search for identities and construction of the self is explored here via
a sociological quantitative study that transcends sociology by engaging
with questions of social psychology and cultural studies.
In the last chapter, through a critical literature analysis and based on
island studies, or nissology, Arijana Medvedec explores the concept of
creolisation situated within a well-described political and sociological
context of the construction of meaning and identity. This literary analysis
of the identity implications of the concept of creolization within the novel
The Eighth Commissioner by Renato Bareti , reveals its theoretical aim:
to test the adaptability of the concept to a supranational context and its
relation to notions of identity and postmodernity. Thus, Medvedec,
examines her literary analysis through a sociological and political lens with
empirical and theoretical tools from anthropology and cultural studies.
The combination of the work of these authors provides the proof that
the complexity of research in identity finds its strength in the conjugation
of concepts and methods from different disciplines.

References
Atkinson, D. (2003 ). L2 writing in the post-process era: Introduction. Journal
of Second Language Writing, 12(1 ), 3-15
Bauman, Z. (2004 ). Identity, Oxford: Polity
Flowerdew, J.; Wang, S. (2015 ). Identity in Academic Discourse. Annual Review
of Applied Linguistics, Vol. 35 (MARCH ), 81-99
McGregor, S.L.T. (2005 ). Transdisciplinarity and a culture of peace. Culture of
Peace Online Journal, 1(1), 1-12
Narayan, K. (2012 ). Alive in the writing: Crafting ethnography in the company
of Chekhov. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press

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