In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong (Anglais) Broché – 1 mars 2012
- Choisissez parmi 17 000 points de collecte en France
- Les membres du programme Amazon Prime bénéficient de livraison gratuites illimitées
- Trouvez votre point de collecte et ajoutez-le à votre carnet d’adresses
- Sélectionnez cette adresse lors de votre commande
Les clients ayant acheté cet article ont également acheté
Quels sont les autres articles que les clients achètent après avoir regardé cet article?
Description du produit
A life spent writing has taught me to be wary of words. Those that seem clearest are often the most treacherous. "Identity" is one of those false friends. We all think we know what the word means and go on trusting it, even when it's slyly starting to say the opposite.
Far be it from me to want to keep on redefining the idea of identity. It has been the fundamental question of philosophy from Socrates's "Know thyself!" through countless other masters down to Freud. To approach it anew today would call for more qualifications than I possess and for very much greater temerity. The task I set myself is more modest. I want to try to understand why so many people commit crimes nowadays in the name of religious, ethnic, national or some other kind of identity. Has it always been like this since time immemorial, or is the present era influenced by hitherto unknown factors? Sometimes what I say may seem rather simplistic. If so it's because I want to set my argument out as calmly, patiently and fairly as possible, without resorting to jargon or unwarranted shortcuts.
What's known as an identity card carries the holder's family name, given name, date and place of birth, photograph, a list of certain physical features, the holder's signature and sometimes also his fingerprints—a whole array of details designed to prove without a shadow of doubt or confusion that the bearer of the document is so-and-so, and that amongst all the millions of other human beings there isn't one — not even his double or his twin brother — for whom he could be mistaken.
My identity is what prevents me from being identical to anybody else.
Defined in this way the word identity reflects a fairly precise idea — one which in theory should not give rise to confusion. Do we really need lengthy arguments to prove that there are not and cannot be two identical individuals? Even if in the near future someone manages, as we fear they may, to "clone" human beings, the clones would at best be identical only at the time of their "birth"; as soon as they started to live they would start being different.
Each individual's identity is made up of a number of elements, and these are clearly not restricted to the particulars set down in official records. Of course, for the great majority these factors include allegiance to a religious tradition; to a nationality — sometimes two; to a profession, an institution, or a particular social milieu. But the list is much longer than that; it is virtually unlimited. A person may feel a more or less strong attachment to a province, a village, a neighbourhood, a clan, a professional team or one connected with sport, a group of friends, a union, a company, a parish, a community of people with the same passions, the same sexual preferences, the same physical handicaps, or who have to deal with the same kind of pollution or other nuisance.
Of course, not all these allegiances are equally strong, at least at any given moment. But none is entirely insignificant, either. All are components of personality — we might almost call them "genes of the soul" so long as we remember that most of them are not innate.
While each of these elements may be found separately in many individuals, the same combination of them is never encountered in different people, and it's this that gives every individual richness and value and makes each human being unique and irreplaceable.
It can happen that some incident, a fortunate or unfortunate accident, even a chance encounter, influences our sense of identity more strongly than any ancient affiliation. Take the case of a Serbian man and a Muslim woman who met 20 years ago in a café in Sarajevo, fell in love and got married. They can never perceive their identity in the same way as does a couple that is entirely Serbian or entirely Muslim; their view of religion and mother country will never again be what it was before. Both partners will always carry within them the ties their parents handed down at birth, but these ties will henceforth be perceived differently and accorded a different importance.
Let us stay in Sarajevo and carry out an imaginary survey there. Let us observe a man of about 50 whom we see in the street.
In 1980 or thereabouts he might have said proudly and without hesitation, "I'm a Yugoslavian!" Questioned more closely, he could have said he was a citizen of the Federal Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and, incidentally, that he came from a traditionally Muslim family.
If you had met the same man twelve years later, when the war was at its height, he might have answered automatically and emphatically, "I'm a Muslim!" He might even have grown the statutory beard. He would quickly have added that he was a Bosnian, and he would not have been pleased to be reminded of how proudly he once called himself a Yugoslavian.
If he was stopped and questioned now, he would say first of all that he was a Bosnian, then that he was a Muslim. He'd tell you he was just on his way to the mosque, but he'd also want you to know that his country is part of Europe and that he hopes it will one day be a member of the Union.
How will this same person want to define himself if we meet him in the same place 20 years hence? Which of his affiliations will he put first? The European? The Islamic? The Bosnian? Something else again? The Balkan connection, perhaps?
I shan't risk trying to predict. All these factors are part of his identity. He was born to a family that was traditionally Muslim; the language he speaks links him to the Southern Slavs, who were once joined together in a single state, but are so no longer; he lives on land which belonged sometimes to the Ottoman and sometimes to the Austrian Empire, and which played a part in the major dramas of European history. In every era one or other of his affiliations swelled up, so to speak, in such a way as to eclipse all the others and to appear to represent his whole identity. In the course of his life he'll have heard all kinds of fables. He'll have been told he was a proletarian pure and simple. Or a Yugoslavian through and through. Or, more recently, a Muslim. For a few difficult months he'll even have been made to think he had more in common with the inhabitants of Kabul than with those of Trieste!
In every age there have been people who considered that an individual had one overriding affiliation so much more important in every circumstance to all others that it might legitimately be called his "identity." For some it was the nation, for others religion or class. But one has only to look at the various conflicts being fought out all over the world today to realise that no one allegiance has absolute supremacy. Where people feel their faith is threatened, it is their religious affiliation that seems to reflect their whole identity. But if their mother tongue or their ethnic group is in danger, then they fight ferociously against their own co-religionists. Both the Turks and the Kurds are Muslims, though they speak different languages; but does that make the war between them any less bloody? Hutus and Tutsis alike are Catholics, and they speak the same language, but has that stopped them slaughtering one another? Czechs and Slovaks are all Catholics too, but does that help them live together?
I cite all these examples to underline the fact that while there is always a certain hierarchy among the elements that go to make up individual identities, that hierarchy is not immutable; it changes with time, and in so doing brings about fundamental changes in behaviour.
Moreover, the ties that count in people's lives are not always the allegedly major allegiances arising out of language, complexion, nationality, class or religion. Take the case of an Italian homosexual in the days of fascism. I imagine that for the man himself that particular aspect of his personality had up till then been important, but not more so than his professional activity, his political choices or his religious beliefs. But suddenly state repression swoops down on him and he feels threatened with humiliation, deportation or death. It's the recollection of certain books I've read and films I've seen that leads me to choose this example. This man, who a few years earlier was a patriot, perhaps even a nationalist, was no longer able to exult at the sight of the Italian army marching by; he may even have come to wish for its defeat. Because of the persecution to which he was subjected, his sexual preferences came to outweigh his other affiliations, among them even the nationalism which at that time was at its height. Only after the war, in a more tolerant Italy, would our man have felt entirely Italian once more.
The identity a person lays claim to is often based, in reverse, on that of his enemy. An Irish Catholic differentiates himself from Englishmen in the first place in terms of religion, but vis-á-vis the monarchy he will declare himself a republican; and while he may not know much Gaelic, at least he will speak his own form of English. A Catholic leader who spoke with an Oxford accent might seem almost a traitor.
One could find dozens of other examples to show how complex is the mechanism of identity: a complexity sometimes benign, but sometimes tragic. I shall quote various instances in the pages that follow, some briefly and others in more detail. Most of them relate to the region I myself come from — the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the Arab world, and first and foremost Lebanon. For that is a country where you are constantly having to question yourself about your affiliations, your origins, ...
Revue de presse
"This...polemic...confirms that...the mass murder of September 11, while indelibly shocking, is not wholly surprising." —Todd Gitlin, Los Angeles Times
Aucun appareil Kindle n'est requis. Téléchargez l'une des applis Kindle gratuites et commencez à lire les livres Kindle sur votre smartphone, tablette ou ordinateur.
Pour obtenir l'appli gratuite, saisissez votre numéro de téléphone mobile.
Détails sur le produit
Si vous vendez ce produit, souhaitez-vous suggérer des mises à jour par l'intermédiaire du support vendeur ?
Meilleurs commentaires des clients
Un problème s'est produit lors du filtrage des commentaires. Veuillez réessayer ultérieurement.
if you are Christian Arab, Jewish Iranian, Cambogian French or fed up of being German or Greek, read it.
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
“In fact, we are all infinitely closer to our contemporaries than to our ancestors... I have a lot more in common with a passerby picked from the streets of Prague, Seoul or San Francisco, than I do with my own great-grandfather...in my moral framework, my styles of thinking.”
This is but one of many short paragraphs in a book that forcefully challenges our thinking about how we decide who we are as individuals and groups and why we behave toward each other as we do. What is the relationship of our cultural specialness to what we have in common? The book is full of cultural street sense which foster embracing diversity, engendering respect and helping us face our fears about it, for example, Maalouf points out that,
“The more an immigrant feels his culture of origin respected, the more he will open himself to the culture that has received him.”
How do we respect our cultures and their legitimate aspirations and find the balance between culturally diverse richness that is spread by today’s mobility and globalization and the banal sameness that our media and thin thinking seem to engender instead? There is not an easy answer, but In the Name of Identity makes it possible for us to see and work with the dilemma in ourselves and in our society.
Amin Maalouf is certainly a seer. After 9/11 it is hard to believe that this book was written before those events. The author asserts that, “In each of us there exists a Mr Hyde, and our most important task is to prevent those conditions from coming together that bring the monster out.” Unfortunately they have come together and we are now faced with its terror on a day-to-day basis. Mr Hyde is now on the loose like never before. This author’s wisdom about how we use our identities to define ourselves against each other in deadly ways may lead us to insights to help contain the monster of our own reactions to the unfamiliar in each other as well as make wise choices about diversity in our organizations and public policies.
I would have to rank In the Name of Identity in the top five books that I have read in the last decade. It is also available as:
Les Identités meurtrières , Le livre de poche, Paris
Mörderische Identitäten, Taschenbuch, Suhrkamp.
Les identitats que maten. Per una mundialització que respecti la diversitat. Barcelona: Edicions La Campana
Identitades asesinas. Alianza Editorial, Madrid
As identidades assassinas, Lisboa, Ed. Difel, 2000
L'identità, Ed. Bompiani, Cortina (Torino)
This pre-9/11 book remains fresh and important today. Maalouf, who is Lebanese by birth and French by citizenship, examines the importance of how both individuals and groups identify themselves in the modern world. Maalouf is both Arab and Christian, and his family was Christian long before Christianity made its way to the Western world.
To pin people in boxes based on their ethnicity or on their religion is both foolish and dangerous. Maalouf captures this thought succinctly, stating: "...it is often the way we look at other people that imprisons them within their own narrower allegiances. And it is also the way we look at them that may set the, free." [pg 22] "People often see themselves in terms of whichever one of their allegiances is most under attack." [pg 26]
One of the most fascinating points Maalouf makes is that in this world of rapid global communication we are living in an age of both harmony and dissonance. As the peoples of the world become more and more alike, it is a natural human reaction to cling to, and insist upon, those elements of our culture that make us special and unique. "Mistrust," he says, "is undoubtedly one of the keywords of our age."
He reminds us that "the future is not written down anywhere. The future will be what we make it." [pg 98] His hope for the world, and for his family, is that someday his grandson will marvel that "in his grandfather's day such things still needed to be said." [pg 164].
This a thoughtful and well-written book that should be required reading in every sociology and World History course, and a top choice among thinking people everywhere.
This book is a must for people to reconcile their ethnic and religious differences.
Amin Maalouf having a diverse background linguistically and religiously shows how it affect him as a person.
Good book that delves into a interesting topic.