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Skin and Human Identity - Book Report/Review Example

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Sara Ahmed, well-known writer on feminism, racism, colour and creed, says that skin is the main boundary that creates all the social differences. She agrees that sometimes, this boundary with animated creations, could be blurred a bit that might lead to confused identities…
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Skin and Human Identity
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Skin and Human Identity

Download file to see previous pages... Because she argues that the colour, to some extent, could be altered. This alteration could be momentary and temporary; but during that period, it has an entity of its own, derived from the powerful boundary existence of the skin. In the same essay, talking about tanning, she says, "By rendering colour a mask rather than essential, the exchange rendered my body something to be valued, adorned, and protected. Colour becomes inscribed as a detachable signifier, positioning as essentially white, as truly and properly white underneath the luxury of a brown veil," (Ibid, p.91).
Sara Ahmed brings other issues of identity and otherness into the skin issue and connects it with the body issue. While discussing the feminism and the racial body she says that skin is the boundary that determines ontological difference between one body and another. "The woman's skin must be protected from the dangers of being if she is to maintain the value of her feminity," she argues Shildrick (p.49). Delila Amir says that Sara Ahmed describes how bodies come to be lived out and marked by differences. "Ahmed focuses on the skin as an unstable border between the body and its others, pointing to how biomedical readings of the skin as a marker of health construct the "tan" in relation to racial color as a frame for the materiality of being in the world," Amir (2001, p.746).

Sara Ahmed herself elaborates her theme elsewhere. According to her it is not only the feelings that form surfaces and borders, but also it is the skin that makes and unmakes these borders. "This paradox is clear if we think of the skin surface itself, as that which appears to contain us, but as where others impress upon us. This contradictory function of skin begins to make sense if we unlearn the assumption that the skin is simply already there, but begin to think of the skin as a surface that is felt only in the event of being 'impressed upon' in the encounters we have with others," Ahmed (2001, p.11). Her argument is that the skin acts as a container and on borders of instability. Skin is not connected only to feminity, but also her arguments touch upon the concept of identity and otherness. She says that bodies are not only the mark of difference, but also act like pointers of exclusion and inclusion both. They are the main separators and creators of difference. It reflects the identity and wellbeing and also sometimes, it could become the unstable border between body and its others. Tan like fluctuations can give different identities to the skin and they refuse to hold the bodies in their traditional places and under such circumstances, the skin will be nudging the boundaries to enter into an alien boundary. According to Sara Ahmed, skin can determine not only the racial identity, but also the connected feminism, because feminism is not the same in all races or regions. "On the one hand body seems to be appealing as a site on which to wage war against the rationalism which pervades western philosophy. On the other hand, the body is appealed to as a sign of the materiality of being-in-the-world," Shildrick et al (1998, pp.45-46).

She proclaims that skin has a dormant existence; but such an existence should not be encouraged beyond a certain limit. "Indeed, skin must be contained - as a container it must be contained. It must not sleep beyond itself, until it ceases to be itself," (Ibid, p.47). At the same time, she ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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