EXTENDED DEADLINE Post-Otherness in Literature, Culture, and Language. New Strategies for the Validation of Identity
Starting from the assumption that identity (seen as a relationship with one's self) and individuality (seen as a relationship of the self with the group) are both discursive constructs, we presume that it is the uniqueness of these constructs that confers authenticity and validation to a particular person/community/society. This issue is a subject already widely researched and problematized in theories of otherness from the perspective of dealing with diversity or even with social distancing and alienation. Although many of these approaches and theories declare authenticity to be somewhat utopian, the scientific discoveries of recent years: the discovery of the human genome, mirror neurons, the so-called fingerprint, and of the potential of artificial intelligence, etc., have demonstrated that the validation of identity and individuality is one of the core needs of humanity.
In recent decades, new voices and orientations in identity research have changed the perspective of how the discourse of identity and individuality validation is being constructed.
With the present call for papers, we would like to draw attention to current sociological theories, which corroborate to a large extent the discursive character of identity. We propose an approach to literary texts, cultural texts, and linguistic registers based on the concepts of resonance (Rosa 2019) and validation/recognition (Honneth 1995). Both Rosa and Honneth present the process of identity construction and legitimation as a search for the familiar, for the fellow man. When defining the sociological concept of resonance, H. Rosa proceeds from the concept of resonance in the field of physics/acoustics and, by analogy with sound waves, establishes that to resonate means to vibrate at frequencies similar to those of the people around us or of their actions, without losing our own vibration/voice. The merging of the sources of these waves is not a resonance phenomenon in physics. Therefore the German sociologist does not consider it in his proposed definition of resonance. In his writings, Hartmut Rosa differentiates between synchronous resonance and response/reaction resonance and even establishes horizontal and vertical axes, i.e., modes of manifestation of these social phenomena. Thus, resonance is that phenomenon by which an individual comes into contact with the frequency of another person and takes up/rejects it according to what he considers valid/validating for his own identity and individuality.
By adopting the concept of resonance from acoustics, H. Rosa aims to investigate new modalities of validating identity (individual or group identity), modalities that are not based solely on differentiation, distancing, and otherness. His studies and the writings of his forerunner Axel Honneth provide a scientifically well-grounded toolkit. The concepts of resonance and validation/recognition used in the research of narratives/discourses of identity and individuality in literary, cultural, and linguistic contexts open up new directions of investigation in humanities.
Looking at it this way, the notion of post-otherness refers to a new angle from which to view otherness, an angle that does not accentuate difference but neither does it annihilate or ignore it. Post-otherness does not refer to cases of depersonalization or cultural annihilation but to a human attitude towards one's fellow human beings, leading to a validation of identity through belonging to a group with which we resonate or through a deep understanding and acceptance of otherness. Forms of social expression and practices stem from our need to communicate with others and our need to develop new forms of mutual listening and shared participation.
The following are a few questions that the theory of post-otherness poses for literary, cultural, and linguistic research at the beginning of the 21st century:
- Is it possible for us to identify in literary texts stylistic, narrative, and discursive strategies that highlight the mechanisms of resonance and validation? Do these strategies differ from one historical period / cultural space to another?
- To what extent have the specific devices of philological research been used to highlight and analyze such discursive strategies of identity validation? What limits can be set to the devices of philological research in these approaches?
- Are there literary works or aspects of language/linguistic registers that raise the issue of post-otherness, namely, the relationship between otherness seen as difference and/or resonance?
- How are the frequencies of resonance negotiated? That is, what do the constructions of discourses that validate/invalidate credible identities and individualities imply?
We invite theoretical and applied studies that start from these premises and build on these concepts.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony: The Lies That Bind. Rethinking Identity. Creed, Country, Colour, Class, Culture. London: Profile books Ltd. 2019.
Honneth, Axel: The Struggle for Recognition. The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts. Cambridge/Massachusetts: MIT Press 1995.
Levinas, Emmanuel: Entre nous. Essais sur la penser -à-l’autre. Grasset 1991.
Patapievici, Horia-Roman: Omul recent. București: Humanitas 2008/2020.
Rosa, Hartmut: Resonance: A Sociology of Our Relationship to the World. Wiley 2019.