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Seeing Differently by Amelia Jones

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Prologue

Just because you’re our color, doesn’t make you our kind

(How) is identity visible? Why does it matter so much to us how others look? What conditions and informs the way we identify other people (including images of them) visually? Is the notion of “identity” (a modern concept of European origin after all) enough to understand how we attribute meaning to other people and their images? How do we name what we think we see in bodies and images around us and how do we give this named quality meaning and value?1

In a 2007 public event at historic African-American Hampton University in Virginia, Reverend Al Sharpton, the notoriously polemical (some might say divisive) activist for African-American rights, made the pointed comment “just because ...

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