Individual Post 2
What each of the groups of people that we have discussed thus far share, is being treated with suspicion due to their societal treatment as somehow not fully belonging (here, I am talking about the Chinese in Honolulu, Koreans in Befu, and Okinawans on the battlefront). We have also seen how these people fought back at times, and at others, simply tried to carve out other socialities to survive and to live out their own ideas of abundance. We have not yet discussed place-making in terms of the creation of art, of music, of literature, etc. What place do you think that these things, which we might put together as “cultural productions,” has in analyses of the eruption of political struggle? Your observations do not have to be based on research, per se. Think about how art, music, literature, and other cultural productions have shifted your own understanding of belonging, of community, and of the kind of world you want to bring into being, in meaningful ways.
Through the course thus far, we have discussed different groups (the Chinese in Honolulu, Koreans in Befu, and Okinawans on the battlefront) who each, in the face of opposition or othering found solidarity, solace, and community within their “fringe” identities. In these cases, we can see a rather concrete manifestation of place making — the Chinese people in Honolulu were united by their Chinatown community, and the Okinawan farmers were united in their goal of protecting their land. Place making is such a central part of building community and identity, as evidenced by these examples; it creates centralized identity and commonality among people who may not consider themselves “on the same side” given a different circumstance.
Place making can also be a more abstract tool in the form of cultural productions, which can be anything from art to music to literature. These symbolic representations of culture are just as powerful in bridging divide and cultivating community as a physical place is. Thinking about my own life, I can easily pinpoint the importance of cultural productions in the formation of my cultural identity. While I never existed in a culture vacuum, my exposure to Indian culture was always confined to what I learned within my home — outside of my family, the “Indianess” of my identity didn’t mean much beyond a different complexion and appearance. However, my enrollment in Indian classical dance gave me an invaluable backdoor to a greater cultural understanding. I suddenly had access and acceptance in a community that both understood the place I took up in the world, and gave me the space to further understand what it meant to be Indian.
Indian classical dance is an amalgamation of art, history, religion, and discipline- watching someone dance is like watching a history book in motion. In reflection, I am so glad to have had this force, this cultural production, in my life, as it provided me with a sense of belonging and community. It is my ardent belief that community helps one come to terms with self-identity, and beyond that, how they fit into a bigger picture. My community allowed me to come to terms with myself in a way that informed how I believed all perceived differences should be treated in the world.