Arjun C.



The story that I’m interested in sharing isn’t exactly my own, per se. Ideally, I’d want to take this opportunity to shed light on stories outside of my own, however inescapable my vantage point may be. And it is, indeed, inescapable.

I’m an Indian-American. But this tells you very little.

I’m a Tamilian, specifically. I’m of a Brahmin background. Perhaps this tells you more.

As an academic and an aspiring Professor of media studies, it’s perhaps in the very DNA of my rhetoric that I’m critical of every phenomenon that I rub shoulders with. It is in that spirit that I approach the newfound proliferation of concepts such as “identity” and “representation” with equal parts excitement and apprehension.

As diasporas in the western world, we may often feel the desire to be seen. And understandably so. To see oneself represented is, perhaps, to feel truly like a member of society. Maybe it’s innately psychological.

I’ll pose a question. Do I stop myself in my tracks, and cease to engage critically, now that certain of my innate psychological desires have been filled? This is the fundamental conundrum in which we find ourselves, with regard to the discourses around representation. As such, I’d posit that we collectively work to envision a form of representation that doesn’t simply entail acceptance into a framework that had previously deemed whiteness to be only acceptable phenomenon to represent and identify with. I’d rather that we not discuss who does and doesn’t get a seat at this proverbial table. If we’re truly about solidarity, let’s collectively move the conversation beyond that. Let’s channel our desire to discuss and understand experiences outside of our own.

I began my story by expressing a desire to communicate narratives outside of my own. And yet I know intimately, from my scholarly research in film and media, that one’s own vantage point isn’t so easily dissolved. But I didn’t dedicate myself to my research so as to dissolve it. I did so to locate it within the broader conversation.

On an intellectual level I find myself intrigued and curious about the ever expanding parameters of representation within media and, more broadly, in culture. But my heart hurts for the narratives that aren’t given spotlight.