“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
— Dr. Suess
What is it that makes us who we are? The concept of identity is a fluid one, rich in possibilities and conflicts. This issue of Aigne embraces aspects of theatre, architecture, fictional narrative, autho-ethnography, literary theory and social anthropology to proffer an interdisciplinary gathering of postgraduate voices that discuss and explore various aspects of “Identity”. Each voice provides a unique contribution to ongoing scholarly discussions from a range of fields of study.
Joshua Pate provides a unique and stimulating article on disability in Defining Disability: An auto-ethnography on the lived experiences of someone with Cerebral Palsy. Identifying impairment as a medical condition and disability as the social treatment received by people with a perceived physical impairment, Pate uses personal vignettes together with social theories and developmental psychology to highlight the importance of choice and locus of control for the person with physical impairment when constructing identity. His own experiences in familial and broader social settings, from adolescence through to fatherhood, provide a fresh perspective on the lived experience of a person with a physical impairment. His paper also opens up avenues for discussion on perception and disability.
Engaging with the semiotics espoused by Umberto Eco, Niall O’Sullivan paper Gateways and Ghost Estates: Signifying Ireland’s national identity after the Celtic Tiger era investigates the landmark architecture produced during the economic boom and its relationship to national identity in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. O’Sullivan takes the Elysian building in Cork City to examine the notions of globalization and internationalism that informed development projects during the Celtic Tiger era and the consequences of interrupting traditional conceptions of the purpose of architecture in relation to local community and identity.
Migrant Theatre and the Aesthetics of Identity by Roxanne Paire focuses on the relationship between notions of space and identity. Through a critique of Anne Uberfeld’s double énonciation, Paire illustrates the anxiety between conceptualizations of individual and collective identity in two contemporary pieces of migrant theatre, Les filles du 5-10-15c by Abla Farhoud and Rien d’humain by Marie NDiaye.
This sense of anxiety in conceptualizations of identity in immigrants is raised again in Who Are You and Where Do You Come From? by Francis Machingura and Jesca Mushoperi Machingura. This time, however, the anxiety is defined as a crisis as Machingura and Machingura provide a sociological investigation into the relationship between African immigrants and mainstream German society. Their personal interviews with immigrants provide a fascinating juxtaposition with the socio-political climate they present of contemporary Germany and its attitudes towards African immigrants.
Conor Michael Dawson furthers the case for identity crisis with his paper on depersonalization disorder in postmodern texts of the late twentieth century. Close textual analysis of Tim O’Brien’s 1994 novel In the Lake of the Woods and its companion essay “The Vietnam in Me,” Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel Fight Club and David Fincher’s 1999 film of the same name reveal fragmentation of identity and the increasing sense of alienation from society through psychological disorders of the protagonists.
As traditional national and political borders open up and a more fluid movement of peoples and cultures, caught in the sweep of economic globalization, emerges, conceptualizations of identity becomes ever more complex. How do we define ourselves? How do we define others? How are these definitions translated through history, architecture, literature, migration? This issue of Aigne may not have presented any set answer to any of these questions but by gathering papers from a variety of disciplines, we hope that a platform has been provided for the dissemination of new postgraduate research that can inform future debates on the issue of identity.