In 'The Other Side,' Stormtroopers are the subject of class commentary


In his photo series titled The Other Side, Jorge Pérez Higuera deconstructs the various symbols and ideas that we associate with the working class by replacing people with Stormtroopers. The Star Wars-inspired aesthetic, he explains in his blog, is meant to render his subjects anonymous and force us to define them solely by their surroundings.

Higuera’s decision to build the series around the Galactic Federation’s foot soldiers was inspired by modern French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu and his concept of habitus, the idea that a person’s core consciousness and perception of the world is shaped by rigid, external social structures.

“Bourdieu claimed that habitus, those everyday activities which give shape to people’s lifestyles, should be classified according to the social class people belong to,” Higuera writes. “Thus, the working class bases its daily routine on what is needed whereas the upper class does it on what is desired according to its preferences and cultural demands.”

In the Star Wars universe, it’s understood that Stormtroopers are an intergalactic army of clones bred to carry out the will of the evil Empire. Despite that they’re actually individual people, Stormtroopers, by Bourdieu’s logic, can be thought of as a monolithic physical manifestation of the Galactic Empire’s military power.

When they’re off duty, though, Higuera explained to The Telegraph, a Stormtrooper’s identity becomes much more complex and difficult to define. We, the viewers, end up projecting our own ideas and assumptions onto the Stormtrooper based on stereotypes and cues prompted by the setting.

“We don’t know anything about their identities because they are always wearing the uniform and we don’t even know their gender, although we tend to presuppose it,” he said. “I love the idea that the distribution of roles is made by the spectators’ imagination in order to know if they are males, females, teenagers or elderly.”

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