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Mapping the Other

Cartographier l’autre

Die Kartografierung des Anderen

Cartografiar al Otro

Per una cartografia dell’Altro

Cartografar o Outro

*  *  *

Published on Monday, April 24, 2023


In Western space, mapping the Other is not a prescriptive notion to assign ossified identities. Rather, it is about questioning the link between these intersectional identities of otherness and the specificities of the various Western spaces. In other words, it invites a reconsideration of how the Others autonomously define themselves in the dominant and marginal spaces of the “normative order” of hegemonic societies, and how they integrate them to make them theirs—therefore challenging the systems of oppression implemented.



The Other in the Light of the Reflexivity of the Subject-Observer

In disciplinary practices[i], the Other is observed through the prism of difference, deviation, and distance. If they are mostly nuanced in their acceptation, some conceptions of alterity are obtuse. When it is not limited to archetypes and stereotypes, otherness is perceived, constructed, and recognized in a narrow-minded way, in the light of a solipsism that opposes the self to the Other, when, on the contrary, they should be linked to be defined one with the other[ii]. When it is essentialized, the identity other becomes monolithic even though it is similar and different at the same time, made of complexity and intersections. 

The identity other expresses a lived experience that mixes sundry aspirations and desires on which its ipseity and humanity are grounded. Despite taking into account the intersectionality that is inherently inscribed in it, identity often loses its alterity in academic and societal discourses to be, once again, fixed, even fossilized. The “‘risk’ of essentialism”[iii] when the topic is “identity,” especially in the humanities, is the conceptualization of that Other through a reification that would be useful for the analysis—an objectification that would fail to consider this lived experience and its complexity, both within Western societies and from the point of view of the subject-observer. Thus, the Other must not be “theorized as a priori,” but as “replaced in a humanity that is experienced [by the subject-researcher and a fortiori by the subject-observer]”[iv]. 

However, it is on this always changing lived experience that the identity other is built, correlated with its agency, in a given framework, generally a designated space to which the Others are circumscribed. In these cases, since they find themselves restrained in space (one where they are foreigners, or that, on the contrary, becomes inseparable from them), they are “overdetermined,” particularly when they come from minorities[v]: the Others are deprived of their freedom to define themselves, their humanity is taken away[vi], leading to the alienation highlighted by Fanon. 

Space and Domination

The Others can therefore be fabricated via a separation, whether real or symbolic, that is reflected in geographical distance/distancing, which in turn is connected to the ethno-racial, linguistic, and/or cultural dissimilarities that this distance may imply. These Others then deviate from the dominant social norm to occupy one or more minority positions (gender, sexual, ethno-racial, cultural identities, etc.) that denote the gap—a gap that is all the more important as the categories intersect in their identity. In the colonial era for instance, non-European societies were hierarchized and/or despised[vii] according to an exotic territorialization of the Others: the elsewhere has become “consubstantial”[viii] to those Others, their geographical position has turned into an identification factor, something that migratory flows do not expunge.  

In contemporary Western patriarchal and/or heteronormative societies, the claims of minoritized groups (racialized people, LGBTQ+, women, “outsiders,” and so on) may be experienced as attacks on moral and social norms by the dominant body. This marginalization—that does not consider the intersections in their identities—leads to the creation of other spaces, new “heterotopias,”[ix] that become spaces of exchange as well as sanctuaries of identity development. For these Others, it is a matter of forging new identities on their own terms, sometimes using autonarration[x] to reinvent themselves. Thus, the Others, perceived by the dominant groups as subjects of hatred, exclusion, and other discriminations, think of themselves in more complex ways when otherness and identity are associated. They move away from the commodification of their identities—accepted only in certain domains (the “entertainment” provided by Latin populations in the United States, for instance[xi])—to declare their completeness. It is for this reason that the geographical territory can be correlated to the construction of the Others, given that it allows for the production of intersectional individual identities, whether they are national, narrative, ethno-racial, of gender, sexuality, class, sexual orientation, age, color, cultures and traditions, religion, integration, exclusion, etc.[xii] Though it is possible to think about the Others through the prism of relations of domination in Western societies, the notion of space is fundamental to their creation. Geographical spaces, of course, but also social, moral, political, cultural, or even temporal spaces that are so many factors which contribute to the production of the notion of alterity—space is therefore “at the same time a means of production, a means of control, thus of domination and power.”[xiii]

Intersectional Identities in Space: The Challenges of Mapping

In Western space, mapping the Other is not a prescriptive notion to assign ossified identities. Rather, it is about questioning the link between these intersectional identities of otherness and the specificities of the various Western spaces. In other words, it invites a reconsideration of how the Others autonomously define themselves in the dominant and marginal spaces of the “normative order”[xiv] of hegemonic societies, and how they integrate them to make them theirs—therefore challenging the systems of oppression implemented. For example, the theorization of space in African American communities is defined through the ghetto as an ambivalent place of “self-hatred” and pride,[xv] evaluating the conception of African American identities in this ghetto that is perceived at the same time as an enclosed place containing Black outcasts, as an allegorical place of ostracism, as a symbolic space of community cohesion, but also as a space of production of the cliché of the “gangster rapper” that fascinates “bourgeois teenagers around the world.”[xvi] This theorization of space can be found in several areas, be they artistic, social, political, or otherwise.

At the time of the globalization of migration crises, just as minoritized people are making their voices heard more and more, even though the notion of “Other” may seem dated in academic discourses when it is contrasted with intersectional identities, it seems urgent to continue to examine this construction of the Other in our contemporary societies. Since they are always changing, we must always observe and study the way these identities are constructed, in response to the injunctions of the dominant society in which they develop. Identities and alterity can be found, one with the other, in a non-exclusive union.

Given these observations, many questions remain: What meaning is given to these spaces in the construction of intersectional identities? What resources are used to counter the aporia of mapping as a restrictive instrument, a force of discriminations and domination? What contemporary conceptual tools are used to better understand the subject-other in space: How does this subject use these tools to construct their own identity? How does the performative aspect of these identities[xvii] enter this link? These queries, which are not exhaustive, suggest ways to reinterrogate the relation of the Other to space, at the junction of arts, philosophy, social phenomena, or even history and civilizations (among other things), in order to account for these links. 

Quaderna being a transdisciplinary journal, the articles will favor the intersection of several disciplines and of several geographic and cultural areas (English-, French-, German-, Italian-, Portuguese-, and Spanish-speaking).

Submission guidelines

Proposals (250–300 words + title, corpus, and some sources) as well as a short biography should be sent to Yannick Blec (yannick.blec@univ-paris8.fr)

no later than June 15, 2023.

The complete articles (between 3,500 and 6,000 words) should be submitted by November 15, 2023.    

Articles go through a double-blind peer-review process.

Editorial board

  • Yannick Blec (Université Paris 8),
  • Vincent Broqua (Université Paris 8),
  • Olivier Brossard (Université Gustave Eiffel),
  • Carline Encarnación (U. Toulouse Jean-Jaurès),
  • Camille Joseph (Université Paris 8),
  • Sylvie Le Moël (Sorbonne Université),
  • Xavier Lemoine (Université Gustave Eiffel),
  • Guillaume Marche (UPEC),
  • Alejandro Román Antequera (UPEC),
  • Sylvie Toscer-Angot (UPEC),
  • Graciela Villanueva (UPEC),
  • Dirk Weissmann (U. Toulouse Jean-Jaurès),
  • Beatrice Laghezza (Université Paris 8)
  • Baptiste Lavat (UPEC)


[i] To better understand the difference between disciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches, see for instance Jean-Paul-Rocchi, “L’art de la discipline, une introduction,” Quaderna 3, 2016. https://quaderna.org/3/lart-de-la-discipline-une-introduction/

[ii] Paul Ricoeur, Soi-même comme un autre [One as Another], Paris, Seuil, 1990.

[iii] Phrase borrowed from Diana Fuss, Essentially Speaking: Feminism, Nature & Difference, NY, Routledge, 1989.

[iv] Jean-Paul Rocchi, “En Exorde : The Other Bites the Dust. La mort de l’Autre : vers une épistémologie de l’identité,” Cahiers Charles V “L’objet identité : épistémologie et transversalité” 40, 2006, p. 37. Emphasis in original. My translation.   

[v] Frantz Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancs [Black Skin, White Masks], Paris, Seuil, 1953, p. 93.

[vi] Ibid., p. 91-92.

[vii] Angelo Turco, “Altérité,” Dictionnaire de la géographie et de l’espace des sociétés, ed. Jacques Lévy and Michel Lussault, Paris, Belin, 2013, p. 70.

[viii] Ibid., p. 71.

[ix] Michel Foucault, “Des espaces autres” [“Of Other Spaces”] (1984), Dits et écrits, II (1976-1988), Michel Foucault, Paris : Quarto Gallimard, [2001] 2017, p. 1574-1575.

[x] Arnaud Schmitt, “La perspective de l’autonarration,” Poétique 149, 2007 1, p. 24.

[xi] Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, Performing Queer Latinidad: Dance, Sexuality, Politics, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, 2012.

[xii] List of identity categories borrowed from Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review 43/6, Jul. 1991, p. 1244.

[xiii] Henri Lefebvre, La production de l’espace [The Production of Space], Paris, Anthropos, 1981, p. 35. My translation.

[xiv] Nicole Ramognino, “Normes sociales, normativités individuelle et collective, normativité de l’action,” Langue et société 119 1, 2007, p. 20. https://doi.org/10.3917/ls.119.0013.  

[xv] Loïc Wacquant, “Ghetto,” International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition Vol. 10, Oxford, Elsevier, p. 125.

[xvi] Ibid

[xvii] Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, NY, Routledge, (©1990), 2007.


  • Thursday, June 15, 2023


  • cartographie, autre, identité


  • Yannick Blec
    courriel : yannick [dot] blec [at] univ-paris8 [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Yannick Blec
    courriel : yannick [dot] blec [at] univ-paris8 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Mapping the Other », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, April 24, 2023, https://doi.org/10.58079/1b09

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