Essay on Exploring Identity: How Essentialism and Social Constructivism Relates to Race

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1811 Words
Date:  2023-05-21

Question 1: How the Theories of Essentialism and Social Constructivism Relate to the Issues of Race in the Film, Between: Living in the Hyphen

The film, Between: Living in the Hyphen, explores the firsthand experiences of mixed people in Canada. The film presents several interviews conducted on seven individuals who have mixed races, hence the title "between." These individuals lack a real sense of identity because they are always in cross-paths when it comes to identifying themselves with a particular race. These people remain to be in the category of the half-breed, mixed, biracial, and multicultural, among others. The interviewees are victims of circumstances, because, for some, they choose not to identify themselves with any race, but are still subjected to racism and discrimination regardless. The film, as it explores the issue of racism in Canada, vividly captures the theories of essentialism and social constructivism to broad extents.

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The film falls in the category of social sciences and humanities, and as such, it portrays the ideas of essentialism and social constructivism and how it relates to the issue of a group of identities, particularly that of race. 'Essentialism' and 'Constructivism' are commonly used terms, and they bear different meanings as well as types. Essentialism has been connected to a specific identity that is inevitable. In the film, essentialism is manifested through the race, in the sense that most of the individuals have been linked to a particular racial identity even when they do not intend. As such, people become victims of circumstances. The virtue of possessing specific characteristics has always been linked to the belonging to a certain race, and that fact can hardly be changed in the real world - inevitability. For instance, in the film, Tina Tomison narrates how people approach her speaking in different languages because they assume that she is of a certain race. It can be seen that people identify her with a specific race by looks without even asking her. She cannot avoid the fact that people continue to use looks to determine her racial identity, and this is usually misinformed. Also, Shannon Waters explains her encounter with people who identify her wrongly.

Waters tells of the judgmental nature of people whenever she identifies herself in gatherings. The fact that she identifies herself as being a half-native has not been accepted, and this can be attributed to the reactions she experiences whenever she introduces herself. Nonetheless, essentialism is captured by Fred Wah's experience while at elementary school. The idea that he would never identify himself as possessing a Canadian race tells it all. His teacher continuously discouraged him from identifying himself with Canada and telling him that he is of the Chinese race. This always troubled Wah, and he never understood why he could not bear the right to associate himself with his desired race. This shows the inevitability in deciding one's race, and instead, people continued to regard him as Chinese simply because of his appearance and physical features.

On the other hand, the film critically captures the theory of social constructivism and how it relates to race. Constructivism has been interpreted in several ways to mean several things. Social constructionists suggest that race is a pseudo-biological concept that has been used to justify and rationalize the unequal treatment of groups. As such, constructivism has recognized the biological concepts of species and addresses race based on genetic attributes. In the film, constructivism has been explicitly captured in terms of race. For instance, the encounter explained by Shannon Waters depicts social constructivism. She narrates how she finds it frustrating that people cannot believe her as being part Coast Salish while some were failing to comprehend why she would take part in a First Nations Medical program. Also, Suzette recalls of her elementary school moments where her colleagues continually discriminated against her indirectly because of her pseudo-biological features. Her black skin color was incomprehensible among her peers because she had a white father. Her peers used to ask her if she was adopted because they never understood how she had a white father. Some often mistook her identity for being of the African American race. She admits the fact that the idea of being in between is not being addressed as it should according to the Canadian government policy.

Question 2: Role that the "betterment discourses" of Eugenics and Euthenics Played in the Establishment of the File Hills Colony

During the later stages of the 19th and earlier stages of the 20th century, remain significant to the Canadians' history. It is when debates on science, colonialism, race, and mortality explored the environmental as well as biological sciences, thereby sparking the general interest of the public domain in Canada's undertakings. Betterment discourses were formed as scientific and moral interventions among the Aboriginal people to protect the Euro-American race from deterioration. As such, the betterment discourses were initiated through social purity, environmental sciences, and biological/heredity sciences, thereby resulting in the formation of eugenics and euthenics. The betterment discourses aimed to assimilate the Aboriginal people into the culture of 'civilization' by eliminating the aboriginal identities.

The government therefore enacted policies aimed at improving the environments, genetics, and morals of the Aboriginal people, and this was to be achieved through education. Civic education was attainable in the residential schools that had been established by the government. The schools focused on re-socializing the Aboriginal children and youths by teaching them the Euro-American concepts of sexuality, gender, and appropriate behavior in particular places. Discipline and morality were instilled through the thorough curriculum as well as spatial arrangement. Besides, agricultural lifestyles were imposed on the Aboriginal people as a way of maintaining balance in the socio-economic status of society. After school, the Aboriginal elites were expected to settle for an agricultural lifestyle as they got monitored by the Indian agents. All these measures were instigated by the government towards the assimilation of the Aboriginal people, and they were implemented indirectly to avoid resistance. The betterment discourses were regarded as the most suitable strategies to win the hearts of the Aboriginal people.

Colonies were established by different administrators, to ease the strain on the central government on the monitoring of the assimilation process of the Aboriginal people. The most significant colony was the File hills colony, which demonstrated a significant influence that the betterment discourses had on the Aboriginal people. Here, Graham was the administrator, and he ensured total influence on the thinking of key individuals as well as that of the Indian Affairs policy. Graham, alongside other administrators, established a robust networked system that instilled education among the Aboriginal people and later moved the elites into the settlement for agriculture. In this colony, histories of the local communities describe how the betterment discourses were initiated and implemented in society. For instance, the histories of the Peepeekisis community, as well as those of the Mandelbaum's research, reveal that marriages were initiated, at times forcefully. The marriages were arranged in terms of race and intellect because the government believed that crossbreeding would improve the genes of the Aboriginal people. As a result, the betterment discourses in the File Hills colony modeled the lifestyles of the Aboriginal people; from how they shaped their domestic spaces, their leisure activities as well as their social interaction. The leisure activities among the Aboriginal people were kept within the boundaries of civilization and religion - they were confined to the church teachings of morality.

The File Hills colony served as an example of how the assimilation of the Aboriginal people into the Euro-American race and culture would be attained. In as much as the colony served as a controlled settlement to instill social transformation among the Aboriginal people, the influence of betterment discourses did not cross the borders of the colony. Besides, the assimilation of Aboriginal people into Euro-American culture and race proved expensive and divisive hence no much success was attained.

Question 4: Role Played By Material Objects in Producing Counter-Geography in Response to Violence against Femicide.

Ciudad Juarez has generally been depicted as a femicide machine by many femicide scholars. It has been shown as a tool that created the institutions which gave room for the killings of dozens of women and young girls and also the impunity of various crimes and even made validated them. Memorial objects including, memorial sites, monuments, graffiti, black and pink crosses, and anti-femicide protests that were photographed at Juarez disclosed that protest materials and bodies collected all around the city reproduced a tormenting landscape to uncover the results of an inherited colonial gender organization that puts extreme gender violence into the normal state. Based on the various analysis, it is arguable that mastering of Ciudad Juarez's topography accounts for an endeavor to decolonize prevailing gender relations that result in regions of female death by supporting spaces of solidarity and care.

Memorial objects give a visual picture of Ciudad Juarez's portrayal as a femicide hub. The gathering of memorial objects such as monuments, murals, black and pink crosses, and anti-femicide protests in Ciudad Juarez was used to analyze the importance of activist's efforts to shape the city's landscape. As far as femicide is concerned, Latin American countries have the highest cases in the world. Mexico, however, ranks the sixth for gender abuse among these Latin countries, because of repeating femicides in Ciudad Juarez, Veracruz, and Ecatepec.

According to Mitchell (2000), as a built surrounding and a representation mechanism, landscapes are full of indications carrying ideological meanings. Landscape and memorial objects carry a message onto the next generation even if the process by which the message was given is hidden. The extent to which the built surrounding in Ciudad Juarez emphasizes spatial link of bias and the presentation of gender geographies of crime is more noticeable in the increase of femicide

An example is focused on the black and pink crosses, graffiti, the Mujer de Arena monument, and anti-femicide protests. This can easily be discovered by any visitor to Ciudad Juarez. The pink and black crosses have appeared as the most characteristic symbol of the mothers' efforts to cease femicide and the discriminating distributions of justice in Ciudad Juarez (Fregoso, 2006). When Paula Flores, the mother to mother to Sagrario Gonzalez, a maquiladora worker, was murdered in 1998 that is when the mothers' cross campaign was launched. She painted a black cross at the front of the police station where she sought help to find her daughter but was disregarded by the police officers. Since then, the cross became the emblem of the anti-femicide effort as new objectors replicated the mothers' plan in symbols of unity and added pink crosses to public constructions to embarrass the officials.

Additionally, the most famous cross monuments are at the front of the governor's office in Chihuahua City and the other one in Ciudad Juarez. These monuments were placed in these strategic areas by anti-femicide activists and ordinary residents, to show that fem...

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Essay on Exploring Identity: How Essentialism and Social Constructivism Relates to Race. (2023, May 21). Retrieved from

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