Identity and Culture

Identity and Culture

Identity and Culture

Identity and Culture

Synopsis

Where does our sense of identity and belonging come from? How does culture produce and challenge identities? Identity and Culturelooks at how different cultural narratives and practices work to constitute identity for individuals and groups in multi-ethnic, 'postcolonial' societies. Uses examples from history, politics, fiction and the visual to examine the social power relations that create subject positions and forms of identity Analyses how cultural texts and practices offer new forms of identity and agency that subvert dominant ideologies This book encompasses issues of class, race, and gender, with a particular focus on the mobilization of forms of ethnic identity in societies still governed by racism. It a key text for students in cultural studies, sociology of culture, literary studies, history, race and ethnicity studies, media and film studies, and gender studies.

Excerpt

'Belonging,' Stuart Hall once observed, 'is a tricky concept, requiring both identification and recognition.' In considering what it means to be 'British', for example, he highlighted the ways in which familiar ideas about national belonging can be embedded in relations of power and discrimination. 'If people from ethnic minorities are to become not only citizens with equal rights but also an integral part of the national culture,' he wrote, 'then the meanings of the term [British] will have to become more inclusive of their experiences, values and aspirations.' In other words, he pointed out, for any society to claim to be both multi-ethnic and, at the same time, mono-cultural would be a contradiction in terms. Each of us, as individuals, needs to see something of ourselves given expression in our everyday cultural forms and practices. And yet, as some know more than others, inclusion is all too frequently defined by exclusion. 'Only deep and rigorous measures to end discrimination,' Hall reminded us, 'can help us navigate these treacherous waters.'

For Chris Weedon, as she acknowledges on these pages, Stuart Hall has been a lifelong inspiration. In important ways, Identity and Culture has been shaped by her engagement with his writings, but also by her grassroots involvement in a multiethnic cultural initiative – Butetown History & Arts Centre – in Cardiff Bay. As will soon be apparent to the reader, this book looks at how different forms of cultural narrative and cultural practice work to constitute subjectivity and identity for individuals and groups in multi-ethnic, 'postcolonial' societies. Weedon begins the discussion by engaging with several theoretical challenges, before moving on to look at examples of historical, political, fictional and visual narratives of identity and belonging. Her examples are drawn from British, Australian and US contexts, each of them engendering critical insights into the social power relations that structure the subject positions and forms of identity in play. Through a number of related case studies, she analyses how cultural texts and practices offer new forms of identity and . . .

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