Avan Omar: Performing Stereotype

Advisor/tutor: Marina Vishmidt
Arnhem, June 2017


For the past two years, I have created performative works that explore questions of otherness, an issue that I’m interested in on a personal and broader societal level. In our contemporary period of multiculturalism and globalisation, race and ethnicity still play an important role in the process of defining cultures and identities. Stereotyping is not a thing of the past, but rather a vivid force that impacts contemporary behaviour. In my work and in this thesis, I seek to chart reactions to the mediation of an “other” identity, defined in opposition to instances of hegemonic Western European categorisation. I will explore the processes through which individualisation is attempted amidst stereotypes, the performance of stereotypes in daily life and the ambivalent desire for integration versus individualisation in relation to societal group identity. I argue that by confronting the stereotype of the immigrant in Western European host society, strategies for struggle have been created. This confrontation serves as a means to break down power by dealing with the ways in which the image of the non-Western European body has been fixed throughout Western European history. Despite these strengths, these strategies or alternatives are rarely clear-cut and present their own layers of power and problematics.