Identity is sometimes imagined to be a fundamental aspect of the self—an accounting of who or what one truly is. Anyone who claims an identity, however, knows identity is much more complicated than that. Race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, native language, socio-economic status, and myriad other identities shape our worldview: how we see, how we portray ourselves, and how we are perceived (and received). Identity can and does unite people under the banner of sameness, but it can also divide us from one another, and even from ourselves.
Identity can reduce complex feelings and a lifetime’s worth of experiences to a few simple words. It can also expand people’s understanding of what feelings and experiences mean or could mean. Identities can be fixed or settled, or at least feel fixed or settled. But they can also be emerging—something to be sought out, discovered, or actively worked toward.
During the fall of 2022, the College and campus community will reflect on identity and all that it entails. This includes the process of identification, where we engage in discovery, exploration, and communication around who—or what—someone or something is. The process of identification requires us to ask critical questions and allows us to hone our ability to do so. Some questions might include: How are identities constituted, and how do identities constitute us? How do identities gain social or scientific acceptance? What does it mean to identify someone or something: a solution, a savior, a cure, a criminal? What does it mean to identify with someone or something: a cause, a community, a culture, a nation?