345-101-MQ, Knowing the Other
We all have certain understandings of who we are as individual selves (e.g. I am a student; I am a person who cares about the environment). These understandings commonly include ideas about our identities as members of collectivities or groups such as “nations”, “communities” or “races” (e.g. I am Canadian; I am Indo-Chinese). These identities give rise to beliefs about ourselves as members of such groups or collectivities (e.g. I am Canadian so I am a fair-minded person). As part of personal identity, such beliefs take shape and form over time, in social contexts and in interaction with other human selves. The process of formation of ideas about who we are includes the construction of ideas about who we are not. This idea of the “not-us” or the “not-me” is often captured in the notion of “Other” or “the Other” understood as a kind of opposite or negation of the Self. This course looks at knowledge questions in the Self-Other relationship. It is interested in exploring and better understanding how we come to believe certain things as truthful about ourselves and about whomever we construct as being other than ourselves. For instance, what we know (or think we know) about our selves and about “Others” comes, in part, from statements that make “us-them” types of distinctions. Such statements can be crude, misleading and divisive. They can also lead to actions that cause harm, hurt or injury. Often, these statements are made and encountered through representation (i.e images and characterizations that represent reality). This course examines representations in the mass media (e.g. film) and in specialized sources (e.g. history books) with the aim of better understanding how they shape and influence understandings and beliefs about who we are and are not.