chapter  1
Representations of the Other
Pages 35

Migration, determined by the interrelation of production, trade and warfare, has been a precondition for the meeting of human individuals and groups over thousands of years. In the course of this interaction, imagery, beliefs and evaluations about the Other have been generated and reproduced in order to explain the appearance and behaviour of those with whom contact has been established, and to formulate a strategy for interaction and reaction. The consequence has been the production of ‘representations’ (cf. Moscovici 1981, 1982, 1984) of the Other, images and beliefs which categorise people in terms of real or attributed differences when compared with Self (‘Us’). There is, therefore, a dialectic of Self and Other in which the attributed characteristics of Other refract contrasting characteristics of Self, and vice versa. This is frequently a theme of cultural analyses of ‘identity’ or ‘identities’, which are not simply ‘biographical’ or ‘reflexive projects’ (cf. Giddens 1991), because our representations of the Other are important ingredients of our own identities. This is not a new insight, for postmodern (and post-postmodern) thinking on the subject reflects earlier concerns of existentialist writers (e.g. Sartre 1943, 1960). In any case, representations of the Other have a much deeper history, which this chapter

traces historically (from the Greco-Roman period) and geographically (from inside and outside Europe).