Bayart on Contextual Identification

edgebayart“Historical experience shows that an individual’s act of identification is always contextual, multiple, and relative. For example, someone from Saint-Malo will define himself  as a resident of that town when dealing with someone from Rennes, as a Breton when dealing with someone from Paris, as French when dealing with some from Germany, as a European when dealing with an American, as White when dealing with an African, as a worker when dealing with his boss, as Catholic when dealing with a Protestant, as a husband when dealing with his wide, and as an ill person when dealing with his doctor. Each of these ‘identities’ is ‘presumed’, as Max Weber says of ethnicity, and may promote integration into a social group, for example into the political sphere, without itself alone founding such a group. As a corollary, none of these ‘identities’ exhausts the panoply of identities at an individual’s disposal.” (93)

edgefaces[This is one of an ongoing series of posts, quoting from Bayart’s The Illusion of Cultural Identity, that further documents the theoretical basis
on which Culture on the Edge is working.]


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