Philosophically, the concept of “the Other” is used to delineate another and to distinguish them from the self. Consequently, the Other has elements that are recognisably like the self, but in order to create a sense of difference, concepts are projected onto the Other that serve to enforce boundaries between self and Other in order to protect the category of the self.
When extended to a societal level, certain sub-sections or groups are Othered in order to protect dominant society, which functions as an extended self. A clear example of this can be seen in the de-humanising language applied to refugees and immigrants, antisemitism and the ostracization of queer and trans people. In museums, Othering is often implicit in curatorial narratives and collections documentation – with language assuming particular power dynamics or failing to consider the specificities of different cultural contexts. This is why staff diversity as well as co-operative consultation is crucial.