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The Illusion of Cultural Identity


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The Illusion of Cultural Identity

by Jean-Francois Bayart (Author)
Steven Rendall (Translator)



ISBN: 9781850656609


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Does the West impose its own definition of human rights and democracy on the rest of the world? Does globalization threaten British, French or other European iedntities? Is African culture compatible with multi-party politics? This text aims to answer these and other questions.

After an ironical, and sometimes comical, journey through the political 'imaginaires' and passions of the contemporary world, this probing work invites the reader to reinvent the democratic concept in its entirety in order to confront those engaged in contemporary identity conflicts or movements. The murderous force of the most recent events of this kind - the wars in former Yugoslavia, in the Caucasus, in Algeria and in Black Africa, the communal riots in India and Pakistan - derives from the belief that for each imagined 'cultural identity' there is a corresponding 'political identity'. This is a total illusion, for these identities are often fairly recent constructions. There is no such thing as a 'native identity' which imposes itself through force of circumstances. There are only strategies pertaining to identities, which are rationally pursued by identifiable actors, and identity-related dreams or nightmares to which we adhere due to their power to seduce or terrify us. But we are not condemned to remain in thrall to these enchantments. The 'clash of civilisations' is not fatal.


ISBN 1850656606
ISBN13 9781850656609
Publisher C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
Format Paperback
Publication date 24/10/2005
Pages 312
Weight (grammes) 651.00
Published in United Kingdom
Height (mm) 225
Width (mm)

Contents: The Criss-Crossing of Traditions: Globalisation and Cultural Closure
Culture: Should we Stop Using the Word? - The Imaginary Polis
The Materialisation of the Political Imaginaire
Conclusion: The Paradoxical Invention of Modernity.