“Other” In my communities
People have been putting people into groups for as long as there have been people who have been capable of intelligent thought, and I am no exception to that. I am a part of the freshman class of Dickinson College, and it’s a bit of an exclusionary group, that now no one else that isn’t currently one can become (unless they are transfer students.) There are clear distinctions as to who are a part of the group, only freshmen at Dickinson college are (though this group is heavily related to all of the other graduating classes currently at the college). Outsiders to this group could quite frankly be just about anyone, but the most relevant would be those who go to other colleges. While there are certainly similarities between us, we are both deeply different because we go to a different college. I try as much as possible to see other groups as the individuals within them, but this is not always possible nor practical. You can’t understand every individual in a group or organization.
If there was one specific instance where I would say that I would refer to a different group than mine as “others”, it would be other college students who go to different colleges. While as mentioned before, I do have some level of shared experiences with them, this is secondary to the fact that they go to another school. There is encouragement on a community level to be patriotic about your college; to assume that it is the best. This is not always something that comes out commonly, however, it can become very prevalent in sports for example, where you will be cheering on your time like your life depends on it so to speak.
In the context of IR, separating people into groups and labeling one as an ‘other’ could be used for a wide variety of purposes; some mundane, others deeply unsettling and horrifying. It could be a simple administrative distinction in order to more effectively determine groups of people, and what they do, and may have no negative connotation. Other uses may be more concerning. If a political figure wants to justify aggression against their neighbor, they may try to portray the people of that nation as ‘other’ in order to reduce the public’s opinion of them and therefore make them support (or at least be apathetic) to a war against them. “Othering” another group of people could be used in domestic politics in order to create an us vs them situation, where they try to marginalize a group in order to gain or hold onto political power and popular support. And this may even be fairly little compared to their potential use can potentially be used for destructive ends, and may be one of the first steps to genocide. So therefore we should be concerned if a political figure uses such rhetoric and such division that that rhetoric will produce. While certain distinctions at the end of the day might be useful, they will only divide people unnecessarily.