Society and Identity
The perceived monopoly of dominant discourses in society—economic, political, cultural—is constantly reworked through the activities and narratives of the marginalised. The reconfigurations of relationships enacted by the destabilisation of existing narratives move away from singular conceptions, acknowledging the complex interactions that exist in the contested spaces of heritage, history, culture, identity, and the economy. Marginal individuals, communities or spaces, do not remain on the periphery but are seen to disrupt simplistic formulations, reclaiming agency and voice in the process.
This panel explores this complexity through ethnographic research, sociological inquiry, literary analysis, historiography, and the study of material culture. The presenters focus on Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore to discuss how individuals, communities, the state, and corporations negotiate status and identity within different spheres. The discussions will range from the gig economy, to accounts of violence and the nation-state, racial politics, socioeconomic conditions, and the renegotiation of status and gendered cultural spaces. These discussions emphasise that reframing our understandings of the above does not involve either a rejection of existing definitions or an assimilation of difference. Agency, for the marginalised, does not entail displacing dominant narratives but creating new spaces that allow for redefinitions of existing relationships to form. It is by recognising the diversity of accounts within different spheres that we arrive at an appreciation of the multiplicity of factors influencing societies and actors, leading to more equitable and substantive frameworks and narratives.