Leen Khasawneh’s Second Post

making Them less human

“SG: Yes, but aren’t Patrick White’s Middle Europeans authentic? That is not the issue, because the whole notion of authenticity, of the authentic migrant experience, is one that comes to us constructed by hegemonic voices; and so, what one has to tease out is what is not there.”

When I first encountered the recurring motif of ‘authenticity,’ I thought I understood it. I perceived an authentic identity to be just what the person that Spivak encountered in the airport deemed invalid. It made sense to me that the self-proposed “#Third_World” or ‘multicultural’ nuanced identity would not resonate with the assumptions of the ‘homogenizing’ front; and as a result a single-faceted character is plastered onto these (authentically) ‘in-authentic’ identities. But after our AT meeting today, I realized that, in their discussion, Spivak and Gunew in fact dissect and juxtapose two separate forms of identity: the authentic identity and the constructed micro-identity. In being able to visualize a separation between the two concepts, I was able to better understand how narratives of the “migrant experience” lose their barest possibility of authenticity because of the indoctrinating conduct of the powerful. In acknowledging this, I was able to connect what Gunew was saying about “one [needing] to tease out is what is not there” as a means to reach a more authentic portrayal of the realities and identities of populations and individuals. I deduce that this occurs because of the tendency of “hegemonic voices” to dismiss any value in the complex backstory of multicultural identities, to conceal any controversial history, and to ultimately “construc[t] the Other simply as an object of knowledge” and phantasms; “leaving out the real Others.” 

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