Key Terms

This page lists some key terms you have shared in class and via email, which counts toward your participation. The list will continue to grow as the semester progresses. Keep in mind that definitions for words vary according to source (in this case the Oxford Dictionary) and context. Not all of the terms are specific to cultural identity and academic writing (those are in bold). However, building vocabulary is a powerful benefit of reading and writing.

Key Terms

abstract: existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.

ambiguity: the quality of being open to more than one interpretation.

ambivalence: the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.

anchorage: an area off the coast which is suitable for a ship to anchor (symbolic in the context of our reading.)

autonomous: having self-governance, at least to some degree.

bewilder: cause (someone) to become perplexed and confused.

bias: inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair.

colonization: the action of appropriating a place or domain for one’s own use; the action or process of settling among and establishing control over the indigenous people of an area.

conceptualize: form a concept or idea of (something).

continuity: the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over time.

constituency: a group of voters in a specified area who elect a representative to a legislative body; a group of people with shared interests or political opinions.

contemporary: living or occurring at the same time, dating from the same time; belonging to or occurring in the present.

contest: oppose (an action or theory) as mistaken or wrong.

contestation: the action or process of disputing or arguing.

continuity: the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over time; a state of stability and the absence of disruption.

culture: the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society.

diaspora: the dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland.

disarray: a state or disorganization or untidiness.

disavowal: the denial of any responsibility or support for something; repudiation.

discourse: a formal discussion of a topic in speech or writing. (discursive: relating to discourse or modes of discourse.)

discursive: digressing from subject to subject, (of a style of speech or writing) fluent and expansive; relating to discourse or modes of discourse.

encapsulate: express the essential features of (something) succinctly.

endow: give or bequeath an income or property. Provide financial support; provide with a quality, ability, or asset.

The Enlightenment: a European intellectual movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition. It was heavily influenced by 17th-century philosophers such as Descartes, Locke, and Newton, and its prominent figures included Kant, Goethe, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Adam Smith.

entail: involve (something) as a necessary or inevitable part or consequence; have as a logically necessary consequence.

eugenics: the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population’s genetic composition. (Strong association with racism and genocide. Definition from Merriam-Webster.)

explicit: stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt.

exposition: a comprehensive description and explanation of an idea.

externalize: project (a mental image or process) on to a figure outside oneself.

hegemony: leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others.

homogenize: make uniform or similar.

implicit: suggested though not directly expressed.

inculcate: instill and attitude, idea, or habit by persistent instruction.

indecipherable: not able to be read or understood.

indissoluble: unable to be destroyed; lasting.

individualism: the habit or principle of being independent and self-reliant; a social theory favoring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control.

internalize: make (attitudes or behavior) part of one’s nature by learning or unconscious assimilation.

linguistic: relating to language or linguistics.

linguistics: the scientific study of language and its structure, including the study of grammar, syntax, and phonetics.

microaggression: a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.

modern: late-nineteenth, early-twentieth century.

mooring: a place where a boat or ship is moored or secured.

narrative: a spoken or written account of connected events; a story; a representation of a particular situation or process in such a way as to reflect or conform to an overarching set of aims or values.

nebulous: (of a concept) vague or ill-defined.

obsolete: no longer produced or used; out of date.

ordain: make (someone) a priest or minister; confer holy orders on; order (something) officially; (of God or fate) decide (something) in advance.

ossify: (often as adjective ossified) cease developing; stagnate.

other: (verb) view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself. (See Edward Said.)

perpetuate: make continue indefinitely, preserve from extinction.

pluralization: causing to become more numerous or to be made up of several different elements.

post-modern: mid- and late-twentieth century.

postulate: suggest or assume the existence, fact, or truth of (something) as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or belief.

presuppose: require as a precondition of possibility or coherence, tacitly assume at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action that something is the case.

primordial: existing at or from the beginning of time.

psychology: the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context.

ravage: cause severe damage to.

reciprocal: give, felt, or done something in return equally.

regression: a return to a former or less developed state.

representation: the description or portrayal of someone or something in a particular way.

scepter: an ornamented staff carried by rulers on commercial occasions as a symbol of sovereignty.

simplistic: treating complex issues and problems as if they were much simpler than they really are.

social construct: a concept or perception of something based on the collective views developed and maintained within a society or social group; a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally.

sociology: the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.

subjugate: bring under domination or control.

subvert: undermine the power of an authority.

subsume: include or absorb something in something else.

theoretical: concerned with or involving the theory of a subject or area of study rather than its practical application.

tradition: the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.

turbulence: a state of conflict or confusion.

venerable: accorded a great deal of respect, especially because of age, wisdom, or character.

vernacular: (usually the vernacular) the language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region.

vigorous: strong, healthy, and full of energy; (of language) forceful.

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