Limits of being? Identity in the mirror of society

Many people deal with the question “Where do I belong?” in their lives. How we locate ourselves in the world is shaped by social categories that often sort themselves through an either/or logic. Categories help us humans to find our way in the world, but they often lead to so-called pigeonhole thinking and prejudices. This applies to gender identities, for example, but also to the question of national affiliation. The question of our identity is always also about how we are seen and evaluated “in the mirror of society” from the outside.

Nevertheless, supposedly unambiguous categories such as gender or nationality are repeatedly called into question by the realities of life. Overly rigid social ideas can make our image appear distorted and alien. In the search for the self, it is crucial for many people to question norms. Rather than being exclusive to a single gender or nation, finding identity can mean defining oneself “in between” or outside of these expressions, e.g. as trans, inter or bi….

“These in-between spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood (...) that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation.”

Homi Bhabha
1994. "The Location of Culture"

”People can belong in many different ways and to many different objects of attachment. These can vary from a particular person to the whole of humanity, in a concrete or abstract way, by self or other identification, in a stable, contested or transient way."

Nira Yuval Davis
2011. “The Politics of Belonging”