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crash



Joined: 07 Aug 2003
Posts: 5456
Location: the chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption
what determines identity?  Reply with quote  

edited from the previous unnecessarily inflammatory title: "is my girlfriend an arab?"

it was the discussion of racism in europe that got me thinking of this:

i got into a bit of a tiff with my girlfriend other night about identity issues. i referred to her as arab which she rejected flat out. she prefers to be called egyptian, which is certainly more specific, accurate, and appropriate. i apologized but asked her if she thought she was egyptian first and arab second and she rejected that as well. apparently, arabs are from the peninsula only. everyone else, from morocco to lebanon to iraq, just happens to speak arabic.

i find this to be ridiculous. there's a lot more than language that ties the arab world together. there's shared history - from the rule of the umayads to nasser's pan-arabism, shared concerns - palestine, iraq, american military aggression, and shared music to mention a few.

she wasn't hearing it though. eventually i gave up, because obviously me telling her about what her identity should be is ridiculous and pointless.

but it made me think - how legitimate is self-designated identity? if you don't want to be something, does everyone else have to respect that? i don't know if i can do that. i know christian lebanese who refuse the arab label as well and identify as phonetician. they are just as (historically) arab as their muslim and druze countrymen but refuse the world arab because they don't want to be a part of the arab world. i know a puerto rican who also adds "but my family is spanish" to any answer concerning background - i guess because he doesn't like puerto ricans.

that doesn't seem legit to me.

if we let people determine their own identity we end up being unable to discuss broad topics because we loose our vocabulary... there is no longer an arab world but a moroccan world, an algerian world, etc. but obviously the determination of identity can't come wholly from the outside either.


thoughts?


Last edited by crash on Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:02 am
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C.R.A.Z.Y



Joined: 18 Feb 2008
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 Reply with quote  

if your gf has something to say about her heritage
its her heritage

let her say it
shes probably right

arabic is a language
being of arabic decent is different
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:05 am
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crash



Joined: 07 Aug 2003
Posts: 5456
Location: the chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption
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i majored in middle east history and i've kept up my studies informally the past 5 years. i'm no expert but i think i know enough to make a judgment here.
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:10 am
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The Count



Joined: 26 May 2006
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Location: Chapel Hill
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C.R.A.Z.Y wrote:
if your gf has something to say about her heritage
its her heritage

let her say it
shes probably right

arabic is a language
being of arabic decent is different


I think the broader question is whether or not it is legitimate for an individual to reject their objective ethnic/cultural background?
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:24 am
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crash



Joined: 07 Aug 2003
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Location: the chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption
 Reply with quote  

exactly. in the case of arab vs egyptian i think she is mostly right. arab is used too often when more specific words would work better. people tend to over generalize and look at the arab world as some monolith when it's really an incredibly diverse area. egyptians have (currently and historically) a strong sense of identity separate from other arabs. however, she is saying she is in no way arab, she just happens to speak arabic. that doesn't make sense to me.
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:30 am
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C.R.A.Z.Y



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crash wrote:
i majored in middle east history and i've kept up my studies informally the past 5 years. i'm no expert but i think i know enough to make a judgment here.


i dont think your pedigree gives you the right to attemtp to question or argue with your gf over her heritage

it's rude and shit. sorry but this thread is even pointless to me dude.
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:30 am
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outpatient



Joined: 07 Jul 2005
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I have an iranian pal who hates being called asian. I'm like "iran is in asia... you're ASIAN."

wait, did I say iranian? I meant persian. RIDICULOUS
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:38 am
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crash



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@crazy - so you think someone's background gives them the unique right to interpret their history and heritage and the words that should be used to describe it?

i'm not trying to convince her of anything - actually we decided to not talk about it anymore. that's part of the reason i thought to bring the conversation here.

@outpatient - that's another fun one. most persians/iranians don't want to be associated with the regime so they call themselves persian. in fact a lot of iranian azeris in the US call themselves persian, even though they don't (necessarily) speak a persian language (azeri is related to turkish). they're using the cultural term (persian) to refer to their former nationality (iranian) even though their culture (azeri) is a perfectly good and accurate term.

a lot of these decisions are the result of political consideration. that's why i think it's BS.


Last edited by crash on Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:50 am; edited 2 times in total
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:39 am
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WrathChild



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I'm only a quarter Danish but when someone asks me my heritage I say Danish. Mostly because I'm a mutt and also because I still have relatives living in Denmark. But, technically I'm English-German-French-Danish-Sweedish. I think you are whatever you identify with.
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:44 am
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C.R.A.Z.Y



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oh well its your gf
be a jerk to her
tell her what she is

maybe you get no more lovin.

facepalm
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:52 am
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The Count



Joined: 26 May 2006
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C.R.A.Z.Y wrote:
oh well its your gf
be a jerk to her
tell her what she is

maybe you get no more lovin.

facepalm


So does this mean that I can disown being Southern and White because my family is Catholic?
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:57 am
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crash



Joined: 07 Aug 2003
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Location: the chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption
 Reply with quote  

C.R.A.Z.Y wrote:
oh well its your gf
be a jerk to her
tell her what she is

maybe you get no more lovin.

facepalm

are you going to participate in an actual discussion or continue to chide me for doing things i explicitly said i'm not doing?
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:02 pm
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the mean
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 Reply with quote  

Well, this woman is Asian, so why not?

Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:04 pm
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C.R.A.Z.Y



Joined: 18 Feb 2008
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crash wrote:
C.R.A.Z.Y wrote:
oh well its your gf
be a jerk to her
tell her what she is

maybe you get no more lovin.

facepalm

are you going to participate in an actual discussion or continue to chide me for doing things i explicitly said i'm not doing?


i dont think this is an actual discussion
i think this is a lame topic thread
i dont know what you want out of it
to be right?

i just dont agree with you
so not much here to discuss.

your arrogance over " studying " stuff
astounds me.

anyways maybe someone else will agree with you.
or maybe you'll decide you are wrong.

all i know is i have nothing more to say
so i will exit this thread like elvis leaving the bldg.
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:05 pm
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crash



Joined: 07 Aug 2003
Posts: 5456
Location: the chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption
 Reply with quote  

i think my question here is pretty clear. i'm not trying tell anyone who they are - i'm trying to mesh my understanding of the world (in this case from a detached academic perspective) with other someone else's personal identification (which is obviously very close to his/her heart). i think to rely on either exclusively is simple minded and lazy but i'm not sure how to harmonize them.

edited for grammar


Last edited by crash on Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:43 pm
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