Playing with identity and authenticity: Hetain Patel at TEDGlobal 2013

TED Blog

“I don’t know how to introduce this, so I’ll just say, ‘Hetain Patel,'” says TED curator Chris Anderson. So no one knows what to expect, and that’s as may be, because this is some crazy right here.

Patel walks onstage and crouches in a chair next to the dancer Yuyu Rau. He speaks a few sentences in Mandarin, and Rau proceeds to translate. “If I may, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself and my artwork. I was born and raised near Manchester in England, but I’m not going to say it in English to you. I’m trying to avoid any assumptions that might be made from my northern accent.”

It’s at this point that the audience begins to get the sense that something is up. Patel continues: “The only problem with my Chinese Mandarin is I can only speak this one paragraph, which I…

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sense of identity’

Behavior Body New Animated Poses (Photo credit: Giela Delpaso)

07_identity_19 (Photo credit: THE…

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sense of identity’

Behavior Body New Animated Poses

Behavior Body New Animated Poses (Photo credit: Giela Delpaso)



07_identity_19 (Photo credit: THE LIGHT SURGEONS)


Places not visited since childhood can be reconstructed in the mind of someone through the triggering of memories of activity in a group discussion. A sense of identity attached to a space is thus sensitive to individual differences in behavior, experience and attitude.


Particular spaces will not have the same identity for everyone. Relph stated that chain restaurants like McDonalds are‘placeless’.64 However, Relph’s ‘nonplace’ might be someone else’s ‘place’. Six smith was highly critical: “Since no criteria of placelessness are given, one 7 Genereu et al (1983) refer to this last factor as the ‘behavioral component in the meaning of places.’


English: McDonalds' sign in Harlem.

English: McDonalds’ sign in Harlem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


They carried out experiments rating photographs of 20 settings for appropriateness of certain behaviors, ratings of occurrence and free lists of reasons to go that place and activities associated with it.


They found that clearly distinguish places based on related behavior, and that this in turn is related to their global conception of places. So, if a beautiful beach is considered a good place for making love, it will be imbued with a more appealing, romantic meaning. Some behaviors, like walking, are considered normal in most places, whereas some, like watching TV, are clearly more place-specific. All other things being equal, a person will generally prefer to be in a place with many behavioral associations (such as a beach) rather than one with a few (such as a
swimming pool)