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|Identity: Two objects are never identical. Identity is a single object, to which may be referred to with two different terms. The fact that two descriptions mean a single object may be discovered only in the course of an investigation._____________Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments. |
Postmodernism on Identity - Dictionary of Arguments
Gaus I 47
Identity/Postmodernism/Bennett: Much genealogical work, (...) insists upon the material recalcitrance of cultural products. Gender, sexuality, race, and personal identity are viewed as congealed responses to contingent sets of historical circumstances, and yet the mere fact that they are human artifacts does not mean that they yield readily to human understanding or control (Gatens, 1996)(1).
A personal identity, for example, is a construction, but one sedimented into bodily movements, instinctive tendencies, linguistic routines, and institutional forms that resist human attempts to redirect or revise them. Everything is acculturated, but cultural forms are themselves material assemblages of natural bodies. Postmodern theory acknowledges the artifice of the natural and the materiality of the cultural.
Difference/Specifity: There always exists – in words, things, bodies, thoughts, artifacts, ways of life – that which is persistently resistant to theoretical capture, or, for that matter, to any fixed form. This indeterminate and never fully determinable dimension of things has been described as difference or différance (Jacques Derrida), the virtual (Gilles Deleuze), non-identity (Theodor Adorno), the invisible (Maurice Merleau-Ponty), the immanent (William Connolly), the semiotic (Julia Kristeva), sexual difference (Luce Irigaray), the real (Jacques Lacan), life (Friedrich Nietzsche), or negativity (Diana Coole). Jean-François Lyotard calls it ‘that which exceeds every putting into form or object without being anywhere else but within them’ (1997(2): 29).
Postmodern political theory tries to acknowledge this resistance and to resist the urge to expel this disruptive force from politics (Honig, 1993)(3).
1. Gatens, Moira (1996) Imaginary Bodies: Ethics, Power and Corporeality. New York: Routledge.
2. Lyotard, Jean-François (1997) Postmodern Fables, trans. Georges van den Abbeele. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
3. Honig, Bonnie (1993) Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Jane Bennett, 2004. „Postmodern Approaches to Political Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gerald F. Gaus
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004
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