Merriam-Webster definition

“‘Other’ … is increasingly being used as a verb meaning “to treat that culture as fundamentally different from another class of individuals, often by emphasizing its apartness.”

Othering can be as simple as speaking of a group of people as “them” in relation to another’s “us,” or even putting the definite article the in front of a label, as linguist Lynne Murphy writes in Quartz:

“The” makes the group seem like it’s a large, uniform mass, rather than a diverse group of individuals. This is the key to “othering:” treating people from another group as less human than one’s own group. The Nazis did it when they talked about die Juden (“the Jews”). Homophobes do it when they talk about “the gays.”

Targets of othering can range from race to gender to sexuality to regional accents to hair color. It’s the notion behind a term like black sheep (“a disfavored or disreputable member of a group”), which only makes sense when one thinks of sheep with white fleece as the only normal kind.”



The Other and Othering – A short introduction

By Yiannis Gabriel | Source: http://www.yiannisgabriel.com/

“Othering is the process of casting a group, an individual or an object into the role of the ‘other’ and establishing one’s own identity through opposition to and, frequently, vilification of this Other.

“Othering is a process that goes beyond ‘mere’ scapegoating and denigration – it denies the Other those defining characteristics of the ‘Same’, reason, dignity, love, pride, heroism, nobility, and ultimately any entitlement to human rights. Whether the Other is a racial or a religious group, a gender group, a sexual minority or a nation, it is made rife for exploitation, oppression and indeed genocide by denying its essential humanity, because, as the philosopher Richard Rorty put it, “everything turns on who counts as a fellow human being, as a rational agent in the only relevant sense – the sense in which rational agency is synonymous with membership of our moral community” (Rorty, 1993, p. 124).”

“The process of othering may be initiated by an encounter between civilizations that have no previous tradition of contact or understanding. Within a few years of Columbus’s landing in the New World, its indigenous inhabitants were enslaved, tortured and killed, their immense civilizations despoiled, desecrated and destroyed for ever. Their conquerors questioned whether native Americans belonged to the same species as themselves. But othering can also take place between groups that know each other well and have lived in close proximity for centuries, as the genocide of Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia remind us.”

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