The varieties of othering experience

Othering occurs in a variety of forms which can look highly dissimilar or even opposite.

There’s a complacent incurious othering: Those others are not really part of my life. I don’t know them, they’re not my problem, I don’t know how to help, and I don’t even know if I can help.

There’s an objective othering: Those others have different characteristics from us, which can be studied and comprehended factually. 

Another objective othering: I have studied those others and concluded that their problems are self-inflicted. They must solve their own problems.

There’s a smug and superior othering: We, unlike those others, are moral or talented or informed or enlightened, etc.

There’s a hostile othering: Those others want to do us harm, and will do so if they get the chance.

There’s a resentful othering: The principle pain in my life would not have happened if I were one of those others.

Resentful othering can evolve into a vengeful othering: The principle pain in my life, which is the pain of my people, would not have occurred if it were not for those others.

There’s a post-liberal othering: Those others engage in othering me, and I have found that I cannot avoid doing the same — at least as long as they persist in their othering. Perhaps othering is unavoidable. Perhaps the conceit of overcoming othering is a tactic for preserving the status quo.

These are dissimilar in ways: they are the products of different power relations.

However, they are alike in that they all lead away from mutuality, further from dialogical understanding and toward reciprocal dehumanization, force and dehumanizing counter-force.

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