Identity as a function of political opportunism

I studied how identities are formed a great deal in my thesis. Identity formation commonly comes about through projective identification –that is as a result of others projecting their demands as well as expectations onto you.

I came to believe that this is the most decisive way in which our identities are formed, because it is really almost impossible to resist a particular identity if a large mass of people are projecting that identity onto you. In effect, they are requiring you to play a certain role for them — and my memoir is an exploration of this. For instance, in terms of white, Western culture, I am the dishonourable “colonial”, whom others can automatically use to mark their own superiority. For my father, who was bound to extremely antiquated and rigid standards of masculinity, I was his “emotion” and means of coping with his loss of his country. And then there are the secondary levels of interpellation and distorted interpretations, whereby my efforts to explain this situation is also seen to be a confirmatory sign that I am merely “whining”, for that is what women do, unless they are happy with the status quo, which makes them unhappy.

I am now resigned, but  happily so, in that at least I understand the mechanisms behind identity attribution.  I have therefore ultimately disowned my subjective connection to the identity depicted in my memoir by means of an extreme kind of mockery of it at the beginning and in sections of the last few pages.

This  was my intention as a wrap up to my memoir: to rupture and a break from the past through an act of destruction:  shamanistic destruction involves destroying the identities that others have projected onto you, in order to be more fully yourself.

The subject matter of colonialism nonetheless remains too emotionally raw for many people. I have quite a lot of confidence that in greater historical perspective,  it will be much easier to see that I am making fun of the ridiculous ideas of my identity that had been projected onto me, rather than quoting them because I thought they were true.

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