Illustration by Carlos Finlay.
Happy Halloween! What’s spookier than ~identity~ ?? Who even am I, right guys!!! BOO!
Discourses around identity are everywhere - from grassroots activism all the way to Parliament and the White House - and the term ‘identity politics’ has grown into an amorphous beast. There is a problematic perception that ‘young people’ and ‘the left’ are needlessly obsessed with identity these days, which not only negates the complexities and nuances of politics born from identity, but also plays into the same oversimplifications that it claims to criticise, by assuming a united ‘youth’, or ‘left-wing’. We hope that this issue will encourage you to consider identity in all its manifestations, the personal and the political, and to historicize, complicate, and question what identity means.
Several of our articles are really helpful in contextualising the term ‘identity politics’, originally created by the Combahee River Collective - check out Tamzin’s intro to identity politics for a cohesive explanation of the term, or Paula’s article on the Biden/Harris ticket to understand its implications when applied to current US politics. ‘Identity politics’ is thrown around far too carelessly, or criticized unthinkingly, and these pieces are a great place to start learning.
Justine White’s piece, ‘The Cost of Transition,’ and an anonymous piece from a sexual assault survivor are urgent, emotional, personal lessons about why identity is so crucial in how we move through the world. These are hard hitting pieces, so please take care and check in with yourself before you read them.
We are excited to feature some great articles which explore how identity manifests in specific disciplines, and we found them to be really helpful in expanding our own (mainly literature and history based) mindsets! Eilish and Benjamin both look at connections between language and identity, whilst Paola examines the role of identity in copyright law and Bec focuses on the bias of the algorithm.
Finally, we have so much creative writing this month! Poems, short stories, and personal essays abound, all exploring identity in beautiful and touching ways. Reflect on a few with your morning coffee, or pick a couple to mull on over dinner with your flatmates - feel free to send us your thoughts and we can share them with our online community!
Identity can be empowering and exciting, and at the same time, exclusionary and exploitative. It’s certainly a difficult term to navigate. We don’t have any easy answers to provide. But, as always, there is value in community, even if it's just our little one here at The Rattlecap. Read, think, discuss and reach out to your friends for their input. Whilst the right may see identity as a place of division, let’s try and use it as a site of unity.
Love and solidarity,
Phoebe and Iz