Wealth of Selves: Multiple Identities, Mestiza Consciousness, and the Subject of Politics

Wealth of Selves: Multiple Identities, Mestiza Consciousness, and the Subject of Politics

Wealth of Selves: Multiple Identities, Mestiza Consciousness, and the Subject of Politics

Wealth of Selves: Multiple Identities, Mestiza Consciousness, and the Subject of Politics


Many of us have multiple identities, says Edwina Barvosa. We may view ourselves according to ethnicity, marital or family roles, political affiliation, sexuality, or any of several other "identities" we may use to organize our behavior and self-understanding at any given time. Various domains have offered nuggets of insight regarding the characteristics and political implications of seeing the self as made up of multiple identities, but many questions remain.

In Wealth of Selves, Edwina Barvosa constructs an ambitious interdisciplinary blend of these insights and crafts them into an overarching theoretical framework for understanding multiple identities in terms of intersectionality, identity contradiction, and the political potential that lies within the practices of self-integration.

Grounded in Gloria Anzaldúa's concept of mestiza consciousness as well as in Western political thought, this reconsideration of the self promises to reshape our thinking on issues such as immigrant incorporation, national identity, political participation, the socially constructed sources of will and political critique, and the longevity of racial and gender conflicts.

With its accessible style and rich cross-pollination among disciplines, Wealth of Selves will reward readers in political science, philosophy, race, ethnic, and American studies, as well as in borderlands, sexuality, and gender studies.


Some say philosophy is the love of wisdom—and that love is erotic. Others say philosophy is like private investigation. It is the search for clues to knowledge about aspects of life that we do not yet fully understand. in political philosophy there is truth in both of these descriptions. Consequently, this book is a kind of philosophical mystery tale. It is a passionate search for wisdom about an often-overlooked aspect of our selves that has personal and political consequences for us every day. But thanks to mystery writers like Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler, private investigation is much more familiar to us than political philosophy. So true is this, that the similarities in the practice of each remain unclear. When Humphrey Bogart portrayed Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe in The Big Sleep for example, Marlowe’s new client General Sternwood asked Marlow to describe himself. Bogart gamely replied, “There isn’t much to tell. I’m 38. I went to college. I can still speak English when my business demands it.” As a political philosopher, I am not much different from Marlowe. I’m 38. I went to college. and like other philosophers with degrees from Harvard or Cambridge, I can use the “specialized language” common to our profession. But like Marlowe, I can still speak English when my job demands it. This will be one of those times.

I introduce myself and the mystery at the heart of this book to you directly in the hope of interesting you in exploring the multiple identities that you—that all of us—generally have. Already in one short paragraph, my words may have brought to your mind alternately your sexual identity, your professional identity, and if you have one, your identity as a movie or mystery buff. When reading the words “our” profession you may have felt excluded from this book’s intended audience if you are not a professional scholar. You might have felt especially included if you are. You probably oriented yourself to me in terms of your age or education. and you likely estimated me measured in part by whatever age happens to mean to you. Each of these multiple identities—sexual, generational, laboring, subcultural— and others you undoubtedly have, each represent in you a distinct, but also linked, way of thinking and acting in the world that exists as an integral part of you. By awakening and even manipulating these multiple identities as I have, my aim is not to sell or to persuade you. Instead, my goal is to suggest that the clues to the character and political implications of multiple identities already lie in each of us.

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