The term identity has come to pervade our modern discourse and a vast array of domains in the social sciences. Discussions ranging from personal identity, state identity, race, gender, and religion echo in academic institutions, online chat rooms and in daily conversation. The tense juncture in our modern politics, where identities and those to whom they belong increasingly collide, calls for us to better understand how identities work and what they constitute. In Lies that Bind: Re-thinking Identity, Kwame Anthony Appiah remarks "that Identities […] can be said to have both a subjective dimension and an objective one…” shaped by exterior forces and personal choice. This edition's writers help to untangle the knots in our thinking about identity, exploring the concept through creative and critical lenses. Drawing from personal experience and academic scholarship alike, they unravel the subjective and objective facets of identity to enrich our dialogue and continue the vital conversations on the topic.
Deepak Warrier highlights a Vietnamese perspective on the anti-war movement emanating from the heart of Paris. In Can the Vietcong speak?: Opposing the Vietnam War from Paris, he tells the story of two figures that serve as mouthpieces to the Vietnamese voice in the anti-war movement.
Kirra Klein charts the formation of the Native American identity in the “occidental” imaginary, one shaped by erroneous archetypes of “the savage” and “ the noble savage.” In Effacing the Indigenous: The External Manufacture of Indigeneity and Its Consequence, she illuminates the legacy of policies aimed to eradicate and strip away the identities of indigenous peoples and shares her own family history.
Lindsay Karchin interrogates the commodification of feminist symbols in Commodified Feminism and the Female Body: A Case Study of Bulletin. Using a case study of the retail chain Bulletin, she examines the ways in which identities and social action can be co-opted and rendered a “marketable commodity.”
Jenny Yae explores the emergence of the modern Japanese national identity, presenting the ways in which US intervention fundamentally reshaped the country. In Make Way for the Emperor of Japan: The United States, she explores how traditional Japanese values and reverence for the Emperor created a vacuum for US hegemony in the period following World War Two.
In Caspian Childhood: How I Came to Eat Caviar like Cereal, Daniella Weinstein illustrates the inextricable connection between cultural identity and national cuisine. In her intimate account of a food popularly associated with fine dining, she explores her Russian-American identity and roots in Soviet Azerbaijan where “Caviar was not a delicacy but a way of life…”
Ainura Kudaibergen paints a picture of how national identity is negotiated in post-Soviet Kazakhstan. In her essay-film Kazakhstan: Synergy of National Elements in Modern Style she offers a glance into how welding tradition with global fashion trends acts as a building block for the construction of a modern Kazakhstani identity, one that is both in-tune with global currents and pays a tribute to its cultural roots.
In Hostile Architecture: Alienating Identities in Urban Spaces Jennifer Heiman explores hostile design, a form of urban planning that aims to exclude certain identities like the homeless and drug users, from public spaces. She shows that this aggressive approach is not only re-shaping the urban landscape in a way that pushes the most vulnerable to the fringes of our physical spaces, but is also shifting our understanding of what public space means.
In Post-Authentic: Viewing identities in the Digital Space, Daniel Tan provides an analysis of what authenticity means as life becomes increasingly digitized. In the age of social media where our “data-selves” act as extensions of personal identity, the digital space serves as an avenue for the constant “renegotiation of identities.”