Aerial photograph of dense forest of pine trees, by Matthew Montrone

Who Gets to Belong

Who gets to belong? Who gets to decide? Why belong? What is worth belonging to?

By the time the Olympic torch reaches Rio de Janeiro on August 5, the UK will have decided whether or not to remain in the European Union. This year, the idea of belonging is being brought into the spotlight time and time again — the U.S. presidential elections, the continued Syrian refugee crisis, and North Korea’s missile launches. In this third issue, we undress these questions: Who gets to belong? Who gets to decide? Why belong? What is worth belonging to?

The politics and media of our day are contingent upon our bodies, their localities, and the way the environment receives them. And while one body can be fearful in one place, it is fear-inducing in another. We are directed to feel and behave in certain ways based on our bodies and the way they belong to or agree with the prevailing narrative. Are we, accordingly, beautiful enough, fit enough, normal enough, worthy enough? Are we light enough, dark enough, male enough, female enough? Politics seeps under our skin and into our lives, polarizing our daily decisions. And it determines where we wind up: in the White House, on the streets, behind bars, and on the screen.

If we break down the larger social constructs of a nation’s political rhetoric, we can understand that this is the question that is at the root of all our debates about health care, immigration, gender equality, international relations, and so much more.

The featured image is “Green pine trees” by Matthew Montrone.

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