identity

aporia

For the Athenians, the nomadic Scythians were aporoi. While the Athenians valued authochthonous birth, the Scythians had absolutely no attachment to any place and were always somewhere else. For the imagination of urban Greeks, nomadism was the indelible mark of the Scythians' distance from civility, the sign and substance of an alien existence, the quintessence of otherness. (see also war machine

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ethnicity

The idea of ethnicity is the idea of a naturalized group identity. It is usually linked, since Max Weber, to some sort of extension of the primordial idea of kinship. In this primordialist concept, group identity is a one-way process in which larger social units draw on the sentiments of family and kinship to gain emotional force.

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identity politics

The concept of identity claims the virtue that, unlike 'reductionist' or 'essentialist' notions such as class, it can encompass - equally and without prejudice or privilege - everything from gender to class, from ethnicity or race to sexual preference. The 'politics of identity', then, purports to be both more fine-tuned in its sensitivity to the complexity of human experience and more inclusive in its emancipatory sweep than the old politics of socialism.

The laden phrase “identity politics” has come to signify a wide range of political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice by members of certain social groups. Rather than organizing solely around belief systems, programmatic manifestos, or party affiliation, identity political formations typically aim to secure the political freedom of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context. Members of that constituency assert or reclaim ways of understanding their distinctiveness that challenge dominant oppressive characterizations, with the goal of greater self-determination. (From Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) What is crucial about the “identity” of identity politics appears to be the experience of the subject, especially his or her experience of oppression and the possibility of a shared and more authentic or self-determined alternative.

It is easy to see how critics of identity politics, and even some cautious supporters, have feared that it is prone to essentialism, another philosophical term of abuse. Either the defining features one-dimensional, as if being Asian-American, for example, were entirely separable from being a woman, or generalizations made about particular social groups in the context of identity politics may come to have a disciplinary function within the group, not just describing but also dictating the self-understanding that its members should have.

Racism attempts to reduce members of social groups to their racial features, drawing on a complex history of racial stereotypes to do so. Advocates of color-consciousness argue that racism will not disappear without proactive efforts, which require the invocation of race. Thus affirmative action, for example, requires racial identification and categorization, and those working against racism face a paradox familiar in identity politics: the very identity they aim to dispel must be invoked to make their case. Without recourse to the white masculine middle-class ideal, politicized identities would forfeit a good deal of their claims to injury and exclusion, their claims to the political significance of their difference. (Wendy Brown, States of Injury)

For Wendy Brown, following Nietzche, the wounds that underlie the politics of identity lead to ressentiment, a powerless over the past— a past of injury, a past as a hurt will, as a "reason" for the "unendurable pain" of social powerlessness in the present.

identity

According to Freud, the ego is an agency of the psyche,by means of which the subject aquires a sense of unity and identity, "a coherent organization of mental processes." (XIX,17.) Through consciousness, the ego is the site of differentiation between inside and outside, between "subjective" and "objective."

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mirror

mirror

In the tenth book of the Republic, Socrates differentiates the maker of an object, such as a bed, made in accordance with the Idea of the thing (this is its eidos or form) , from the artist, proceeding in a quick and easy fashion, as if using a mirror. But "What should a painting be called," asked Alberti, "except the holding of a mirror up to the original as in art?"

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non-place

For Marc Augé, a non-place comes into existence when human beings do not recognise themselves in it. (see place / identity) Non-places begin with uprootedeness -- uprooted nineteenth century countrymen, migrants, refugees, etc. They provide the "passive joys of identity loss." While anthropological places create the organically social, so non-places create solitary contractuality. (p.94) Thus a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place, and these non-places are the real measure of our time. (pp.77-79) 

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place / identity

More and more of us live in what Edward Said has called a "general condition of homelessness," a world where identities are coming to be deterritorialized, or differently territorialized. In a world of diaspora, transnational culture flows, and 
mass movements of populations, familiar lines between "here" and "there", center and periphery, colony and metropole become blurred.

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