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Pre-judice and identity

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The multifarious relations between the general and the particular, between distance and proximity and between 'belonging' and 'difference', relations that pertain to the realm of judgement, are of central significance in recent debates in the social sciences and their concepts of 'identity'. Therefore, Friese explores the implicit or explicit concepts of 'identity' in anthropological theorizing that assume not just the unity and coherence of the subject and its alleged belonging to a well-defined social configuration - be it a group, an ethnos, a nation - but presuppose the stability and continuity of its structural features. In order to gain distance from such theoretical edifices and a stable ontology of the social world, she brings into play approaches that resist the construction of unequivocal and stable identities by conceptualizing social relations in terms of mutual 'othering' and temporality. By referring to these approaches, perspectives are opened up that question not only the presuppositions of (theoretical) 'pre-judice', but also the assumptions of the new 'politics of identity'. What is proposed is a rewriting of the project of Enlightenment and an abandonment of any politics that is based on the heteronomy of judgement and that aims at establishing unquestioned ontologies of belonging and identity.

Keywords: alterity; anthropology; identity; judgement; social theory

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut, Essen

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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