“Identity is the place in-between. I feel belonging to both countries, a social and political responsibility, as I want to shape both.”
“I have two identities before and after war.”
“From a certain age, you cannot live the mixture so well, because the identity lies in the past.”
“Identity is the inner never-ending struggle.”
“My Identity moves and changes with every city I live in.”
“[...] People act all confused: “Oh you don’t know who you are! ” No, I know who I am! You just feel so uncomfortable with it and refuse to acknowledge the many ways of which I exceed your expectations and make you insecure about yourself”
“We are constantly fighting to identify us inside of the tiny stupid boxes that people have in their heads. And we are the living proof that we don’t fit into these boxes but rather bust out of them, constantly.”
“People say: Oh, that’s your white side – Oh, that’s your black side! - Why are there even sides? I am not a rubix cube!”
“I can wear my long braids. I can be elegant. I can be professional. I can wear hoops. I can be Ghetto. I can be intelligent. I can be the boss bitch. I can be all of those things. Why not?”
Identity is how we conceptualise ourselves, the sense of who we are. Our identity provides us with our understanding of our place in the world. There are two aspects to our identity: those aspects that give us our uniqueness in respect to others, our personal identity, and; our social identity, what we have in common and share with other people, and also what we have different from other groups.
There is a multi-layered nature to our identity. A large part of our identity relates to the range of social groups that we are in, our place in those, or the groups that we are not in and the social groups that others place us in. Derrida argued that an identity’s constitution is always based on excluding something and establishing a hierarchy between the two resultant poles. Therefore, identity is relational, that is, how we think about ourselves in relation to others.
In the process of becoming rather than being, identities are built using the resources of history, language, and culture. They arise from the narrativization of the self, but the necessarily fictional nature of this process in no way undermines its discursive, material, or political effectivity, even if the belongingness, through which identities arise is, partly, in the imaginary. Due to this narrativization, identifications are never fully and finally made. They are constantly marshalled, consolidated, retrenched, and contested. Just as identities themselves, the term identity is constantly being reformulated. According to Fearon, “identity” as we now know it derives mainly the work of psychologist Erik Erikson in the 1950s and dictionary definitions have not caught up, failing to capture the word’s current meanings.
“The sameness of a person or thing at all times or in all circumstances; the condition or fact that a person or thing is itself and not something else; individuality, personality.”
Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition, 1989)
“The characteristics, feelings or beliefs that make people different from others.”
“The state or feeling of being very similar to and able to understand somebody/something.”
(Oxford Learner’s Dictionary)
Pehrson, Sam. “What is identity?”, Identity, Conflict and Public Space, Queen’s University, Belfast.
Hall, Stuart. (2011). Introduction: who needs ‘identity’?. In S. Hall, & P. du Gay (Eds.), Questions of cultural identity (pp. 1-17). SAGE Publications Ltd, https://www.doi.org/10.4135/9781446221907.n1
Fearon, James. 1999. “What Is Identity (As We Now. Use the Word)?” Unpublished manuscript. Stanford. University, Stanford, Calif, November 3. Feng, Chongyi.