“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else” – Margaret Mead
Certain aspects of one’s individual identity such as race, gender, ancestry, genetic makeup and so on, come naturally at birth. One could however consciously choose other aspects such as nicknames, profession, religion, hairstyles, ways of life, gender expression, et cetera to make oneself more unique.
Between choice and nature, there are aspects such as nationality, history, psyche, social roles, which influence our sense of identity. Identity could simply be personal disposition, or an unwilling imposition by the society at large.
If identification of self makes the person, collective identity allows for mutual recognition—security as well as solidarity. Group attributes, though, could be real or virtual, lasting or ephemeral, like one’s profile on social media. Overemphasis of the collective, however, could result in alienation, prejudice, confrontation and even enmity.
In the age of globalisation, a local majority could easily become a minority in the wider world. As global citizens, we hope for and embrace the belief that elastic and flexible identities can bring diversity and progress, rather than confrontation.
If defining our collective identities in this city seems like an almost impossible pursuit, images could, perhaps, provide a platform to start.