ap human geography textbook pdf chapter 5 : The name of this chapter is Identity: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality. We’ll find answer some of important key questions including-
- What is identity, and how are identities constructed?
- How do places affect identity, and how can we see identities in places?
- How does geography reflect and shape power relationships among groups?
ap human geography textbook pdf chapter 5
Traveling on the Indonesian island of Bali, I saw a brick-making facility and stopped to visit. Boys and women were building bricks by hand, in the hot sun. I watched young boys scoop wet mud from a quarry by a creek into their wheelbarrows.
They poured the mud into wooden forms. Once the bricks began to dry and harden in the sun, someone had to turn the bricks repeatedly to prevent them from cracking.
The woman in Figure 5.1 worked ten hours a day, six days a week, turning, stacking, and restacking bricks to prevent them from cracking. For her work, she earned about 45 cents (U.S.) per hour.
What is identity, and how are identities constructed?
A man gets off the airplane, walks to the baggage carousel to find his suitcase, and is greeted by dozens of black suitcases. He walks to the parking garage to find his car and sees a sea of black cars that all look the same. The narrator intones, “Maintain your identity. Drive a Saab.”
Identities are marketed through cars, clothing, club memberships, jewelry, and houses. Advertisements often convey the impression that we can purchase our identity. Yet, identity is much more personal than what we drive, wear, belong to, or where we live. Geographer Gillian
Rose defines identity as “how we make sense of ourselves.”
How do each of us define ourselves? We construct our own identities through experiences, emotions, connections, and rejections. We work through derivations and delineations to find an identity that meshes with who and where we are at any given rime. An identity is a snapshot, an image of who we are at that moment. Identities are fluid, constantly changing, shifting, and becoming. Place and space are integral to our identities because our experiences in places and our perceptions of places help us make sense of who we are.
In addition to defining ourselves, we define others and others define us. One of the most powerfuI ways to construct an identity is by identifying against other people. To identify against, we first define the “Other,” and then we define ourselves in opposing terms. Edward Said wrote thoughtfully about how Europeans, over time, constructed an image of regions that are now commonly called the Middle East and Asia.
He described the circumstances tl1at led Europeans to define this area as tl1e “Orient,” a place with supposedly mystical characteristics cl1at were depicted and repeated in European art and literature. In a similar vein, geographer James Blaut wrote eloquently about how Europeans came to define Africans and Americans as “savage” and “mystical.”
Through these images of the “Other,” which developed during periods of European exploration and colonialism, Europeans defined themselves as “not mystical” or “not savage” and, therefore, as “civilized.” These ideas are still part of our vernacular speech even today, as seen in references to “the civilized world” or a time “before civilization” Phrases such as these invariably carry with them a sense of superiority in opposition to an “Other.”
How do places affect identity, and how can we see identities in places?
The processes of constructing identities and identifying against an “Other,” just like any other social or cultural process, differ from place to place and are rooted in places. Then we construct identities, part of what we do is to infuse place with meaning by attaching memories and experiences to the place.
This process of infusing a place “with meaning and feeling” is what Gillian Rose and countless other geographers refer to as “developing a sense of place.” Like identity, our sense of place is fluid; it changes as the place changes and as we change.
That is of particular interest to geographers is how people define themselves through places. Our sense of place becomes part of our identity, and our identity affects the ways we define and experience place. Rose explains:
One way in which identity is connected to a particular place is by a feeling that you belong to that place. It’s a place in which you feel comfortable, or at home, because part of how you define yourself is symbolized by certain qualities of that place. The geographer Relph, for example, has even gone so far as to claim that “to be human is to live in a world that is filled with significant places: to be human is to have to know your place.”
The uniqueness of a place can become a part of who we are.
Ethnicity offers a good example of how identities affect places and how places affect identities. The idea of ethnicity as an identity stems from the notion that people are closely bounded, even related, in a certain place over time.
The word etlmic comes from tl1e ancient Greek word ethnos, meaning “people” or “nation.” Geographer Stuart Hall explains, “Where people share not only a culture but an ethnos, their belongingness or binding into group and place, and their sense of cultural identity, are very strongly defined.” Hall makes clear that ethnic identity is “historically constructed like all cultural identities” and is often considered natural because it implies ancient relations among a people over time.
This definition may sound simple, but the concept of ethnicity is not. In the United States, for example, a group of people may define their ethnicity as Swiss American. Switzerland is a state in Europe. The people in Switzerland speak four major languages and other minor ones. The strongest identities in Switzerland are most often at the canton level-a small geographically defined area that distinguishes cultural groups within the state.
So, which Swiss are Swiss Americans? The way Swiss Americans see Switzerland as part of who they are may not exist in Switzerland proper (Fig. 5 .8). Ethnicity sways and shifts across scales, across places, and across time. A map showing all recognizable ethnic areas would look like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle with thousands of often-overlapping pieces-some no larger than a neighborhood, others as large as entire countries.
Ethnic identity is greatly affected by scale and place. In 2002, the Washington Post reported about the thriving South Asian community in Fairfax Country, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. In South Asia, the countries of Pakistan and India have a history of animosity, and people identify themselves by country witl1in tl1e region of South Asia and by areas within each country.
However, in Fairfax County, Virginia, a world apart from India and Pakistan, many South Asians identify with each other. A South Asian video rental store rents botl1 Pakistani and Indian movies. South Asian grocery stores carry foods from both countries and areas within d1e countries. The
geographical context of suburban Washington, D.C. fosters a collective South Asian identity.
How does geography reflect and shape power relationships among groups?
Power relationships are assumptions and structures about who is in control and who has power over others. Power relationships affect identities directly, and tl1e nature of those effects depends on tile geographical context in which tl1ey are situated. Power relationships also affect cultural landscapes by determining what is seen and what is not.
Massey and Jess contend power is central to tile study of place: “tile power to with the contest over how tile place should be seen, what meaning to give it; the power, in other words, to construct tile dominant imaginative geography, the identities of place and culture.”
Power relationships do much more than shape the cultural landscape. Power relationships can also subjugate entire groups of people, enabling society to enforce ideas about tile ways people should behave or where people should be welcomed or turned away-thus altering the distribution of peoples.
Policies created by governments can limit the access of certain groups. Jim Crow laws in the United States once separated “black” spaces from “white” spaces, right down to public drinking fountains. Even without government support, people create places where they limit the access of other peoples.
For example, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Catholics and Protestants defined certain neighborhoods as excluding the “other” thorough painting murals, hanging bunting, and painting curbs (Fig. 5 .12). In major cities in tile United States, local governments do not create or enforce laws defining certain spaces as belonging to members of a certain gang, but the people themselves create spaces, much like tl1e people of Belfast do, thorough graffiti, murals, and building colors.
Identity is a powerful concept. The way we make sense of ourselves is a personal journey that is mediated and influenced by the political, social, and cultural contexts in which we live and work. Group identities such as gender, ethnicity, race, and sexuality are constructed, both by self-realization and by identifying against and across scales. When learning about new places and different people, humans are often tempted to put places and people into boxes, into myths or stereotypes that make them easily digestible.
The geographer, especially one who spends time in the field, recognizes that how people shape and create places varies across time and space and that time, space, and place shape people, both individually and in groups. James Curtis ably described the work of a geographer who studies places: “But like the popular images and stereotypical portrayals of all places-whether positive or negative, historical or contemporary-these mask a reality on the ground that is decidedly more complex and dynamic, from both the economic and social perspectives.”
What Curtis says about places is true about people as well. What we may think to be positive identities, such as the myths of “Orientalism” or of the “model minority,” and what we know are negative social ills, such as racism and dowry deaths, are all decidedly more complex and dynamic than they first seem.
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