We are going to keep the preparatory work pretty light for this week. Part of the rationale is because we’ve either discussed some of these ideas before. I also want you to concentrate your efforts on putting all of what we’ve learned together.

For the first class, please define essentialism and study the table on p.55. I also want you to come up with three examples of labeling not mentioned in the book. Process each instance according to the table. In class we are going to discuss bias, in-group bias, and implicit bias.

For the second class, I’d like you to note Martin’s problem with essentialism. As part of your work here, please make sure to note the following concepts from Martin and our in-class discussion.

  • Essentialism (Martin, p. 55)
  • Identity
  • “operational acts of identification”
  • Jean Francois Bayart

Then please read the following two blog posts that discuss essentialism in a manner conversant with Bayart:

Richard Newton, “Tidying Up Books and other Cultural Essentialisms.

Leslie Dorrough Smith, “The Nose-Piercing of Destiny.

Both blog posts are from a scholarly working group called Culture on the Edge that is interested in identity. We’ll talk about both posts as non-essentialist ways of analyzing identity.