The Imaginary Formation of Cultural Otherness

  • Denise Jodelet Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France
Keywords: imaginary, cultural otherness, social representations



Communication should be addressed to: Professor Denise Jodelet, Directrice d'études à l'EHESS, 190-198 avenue de France 75244 Paris.


Papers on Social Representations

Volume 23, pages 19.1-19.12 (2014)

Peer Reviewed Online Journal

ISSN 1021-5573

© 2014 The Authors


The Imaginary Formation of Cultural Otherness


Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

The aim of the text is to give evidence of the imaginary dimensions of social representations. The issue concerns the images of otherness as they appear in narratives about their localisation in territories, place being a receptacle of identity projections. The narratives used are taken from literary and scientific texts, about Latin America and Orient. Referring to the theoretical proposals of G. Durand on anthropological structures of imagination, the texts analysis shows how the interplay between subjective desires and context constraints leads to construct genuine representations of otherness, giving to the latter properties that allow enhancing or criticizing the national and cultural identity of the narrators. Durand’s model focuses on the way the marginal status of the individuals who construct the images, favours the intervention of imagination on representation and its role in innovation. It is used here to examine how the social situation of the narrators, their refusal of occidental civilisation or their personal quest for change influence the way they relate to the otherness of countries and their history, people, nature and society. This process generates a positive idealization in the case of Latin America and an ambivalent or negative position towards oriental territories and populations pertaining to the late French colonial empire.

Author Biography

Denise Jodelet, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France

DENISE JODELET is Directeur d’Etudes Emeritus at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Docteur Es-Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Docteur Honoris Causa of several universities in Latin America. She took the direction of the Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale after the departure of Serge Moscovici. Her activities in research and teaching are devoted to the theoretical an empirical study of Social Representations in varied areas: body, mental illness, health domains (aids, alimentation, breastfeeding, contagion, contraception), education, environment (urban images, public response to environmental problems). She has developed some central or new themes in social psychology (social and collective memory, otherness, social imaginary, music, religion).