Who is the Other? 

Paola Giorgis

wom.an.ed (women’s studies in anthropology and education; www.womaned.org)

In Other Words. A Contextualized Dictionary to Problematize Otherness (www.iowdictionary.org)

E-mail: paola.giorgis@womaned.org; paola.giorgis@iowdictionary.org

Abstract: In this contribution I discuss how the (re)production of Otherness can be problematised presenting two practical examples. The first considers the encounter of Otherness from the perspective of another language: by shuffling individual and collective representations, such an experience reveals how Otherness is a relative and situated construct determined by asymmetrical power relations. Drawing from my long practice as a foreign language teacher, I briefly present an activity that I developed in a multicultural high school in Italy in an urban context to show how the construction of Otherness can be problematised starting by challenging the usual perspective from which we look at ourselves. The second example discusses the international project of the online dictionary In Other Words. A Contextualized Dictionary to Problematize Otherness (www.iowdictionary.org) that analyses, problematises and subverts discriminating language through the critical and creative analysis of keywords by using pieces of literature, works of art, cartoons, videos, as well as by deconstructing derogatory visual and rhetorical strategies. The actual practices here presented as examples are grounded in several theoretical and critical perspectives, further evidence that practices and theories are not separate entities, but they rather nurture each other since it is precisely the dialogue between thought and action that shapes human experience, fostering awareness and responsibility for our common world (Arendt 1958/1998).

Keywords: otherness, another language, discriminating language, stereotypes, asymmetrical power relations, visual and rhetorical strategies.

Rhetoric and Communications Journal, issue 50, January 2022

Read the Original in English