The ‘Other’

Briefly explained, the concept of the ‘other’ simply describes someone or a group of people who we associate as different, in some way, to ourselves. We cannot relate to the phrase “I” without the concept of the ‘other’ and recognising this difference. ‘Otherness’ is a sociological idea that looks at the construction of majority and minority identities. These refer to social identities such as cultural, ethnic, gender, class or religion rather than to natural, innate identities that we are born with.

In relation to my project here, I think those who live with alternative spiritual beliefs can regularly be faced with prejudice. Witchcraft especially has this obvious stereotype with, how other many years, they have been adapted in films, books and tv. This negative perception of old, haggard women casting evil spells gives the wrong impression to people who know nothing about the craft. These opinions all basically come from the initial thought that these people are different and ‘other’. I don’t think viewing someone as ‘other’ always has to be negative, however in the case of my work and how I want to portray my subjects, I want to avoid casting this shroud of ‘otherness’ and encouraging viewers to look at these people with preconceptions. I cannot completely stop viewers looking at my subjects as ‘other’ as it is natural to do so but I want to portray them in a respectful way so that I am not pushing these prejudices further.

In my dissertation the concepts of ‘the everyday’ and ‘otherness’ were major factors in my analysis and research. I explored how the three projects could relate to both the everyday and the other. What I found was that although there were elements of the other in each, such as strict and traditional religion and religion that isn’t so common within our society, but ultimately the intimate portraits and photographs of all the subjects showed the humanity and proved that despite the differences we can still connect to them on a human level.

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