Access and Empowerment

Before reading Power and positionality: negotiating insider/outsider status within and across cultures, I had never really given too much thought to what it meant to be an insider or outsider. I have lived an exceptionally privileged life and have always in some sense, been an insider. All of the academic institutions I have ever attended have been predominantly white and upper class. The friends I have made from these environments too have been from similar backgrounds to me. I admittedly have so seldom felt like an outsider. On the rare occasion, however, that I have felt this way, I in my privilege could leave the unfamiliar uncomfortable space and return to my insider status elsewhere.

I was intrigued by the article’s characterization of the insider/outsider status as fluid. Identity of course is composed of many different constructs: gender, socio-economic status, religion, nationality, the list goes on. Access into the group is granted for insiders, but interestingly enough, access can also be given to outsiders if there is a motivation to bring them into the conversation or a desire to share aspects of their culture perhaps for some personal gain.

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I think it is an important part of anthropology to be mindful of the insider/ outsider dynamic especially as we move towards our own final projects. How will our similarity to or differences from the group being studied affect what access we are granted? Are there ways of breaking down these barriers or are we forever held oscillating between insider/outsider statuses, being allowed “in” for only fleeting periods of time? Perhaps we can regardless of how and to whom we identify, create a personal relationship with our subject’s that goes beyond group mentalities.static1-squarespace

I felt as though re: imagine embraced the philosophy that no matter who you are or where you come from, you will be granted equal opportunity and respect. Their mission is to empower the community, effectively breaking down preconceived notions of subject and observer or needy and donator. With everyone on the same equal playing field, a more impactful relationship can be achieved which hopefully can lead to social progress and equality.

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