Marginality in me

Our research group was discussing the marginal and marginalization in one the Skype meetings. We discussed both the academic definition of marginal or marginalization and our personal relationship to it. Many times, we construct the marginal in relationship to mainstream. The discussion made me think about my personal experience of marginalization. For me, as an academic and a professor it is easy to externalize and analyze the phenomena. My first thought was to write a more academic blog around different definitions of marginalization. Than I decided to challenge myself and share my experience through artistic media, photography. I made series of self-portraits.

I’ve been squinting from the birth, or more common I have a lazy eye. When I was a child, I have my other eye covered for a while. This helped me to see with my both eyes. My lazy eye places me to the marginal without a doubt. I don’t know how many times I have responded to the question: “Why your eye hasn’t been operated?”. I think that one of the rudest comment I experienced was from a otolaryngologists who told me that “you would look quite nice without your lazy eye” or a research entering the room for the first time to meet me and asking “what ever happened to your eye?”. Sometimes people are just confused about how to look me in the eyes. Usually they reach for “my good eye” rather quickly.

Of course, I have thought about an operation many times. This would place me in the mainstream and I would look the same as anyone else. Yet, this would be only aesthetic operation which wouldn’t effect on the way I use my sight one eye at time. As I have grown up with this defect or characteristic, I’ve accustomed to it not to really think about it. When I’m fine with this, the most people I meet are too. Yet, many people who feel uncomfortable about my squint are feeling uncomfortable about the marginality that it represents.
As a white middle-aged Scandinavian woman with high education, two children, husband, house and a dog, I belong in many ways to mainstream and the privileged ones. Yet people’s histories, experiences and life stories can place them in the marginal. If I think about marginality in me, it has shaped me, and thought me about accepting myself as I am.

By Satu Miettinen

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