Multiplicity and Difference: Pluralities of Identity


The main objective of this paper is to discuss the idea of cultural identity its tendency become the overriding or singular affiliation. While exploring individualism as a pluralistic notion of constant movement and becoming as opposed to monistic substance, the discussion will emphasize on the importance of parallel multiplicity and difference as a critical, yet overlooked quality of identity. Here, the arguments are mainly rooted in the claims of the economist Amartya Sen and his concept of multiple identities and those of the philosopher Gilles Deleuze and his philosophy of difference and becoming. While Sen points out the destructiveness of mono-dimensional affiliations and argues against the reductionist conviction that human beings around the world can be understood and preeminently characterized in terms of the distinct civilizations to which they belong, Deleuze anchors his discussion in the idea that the individual is to be comprehended in terms of the constant differentiating-process of becoming--a metaphysics in which the concept of multiplicity replaces that of substance. Collective, individual and cultural memory as well as the contemporary socio-political structures will be embedded, as the discussion about singular identity and its dangerous path proceeds. Combining these two theories, the paper will not only critically examine the romanticized notion of cultural belonging, community and group-affiliation, and how these are often seen as a kind of extension of one’s own self but also bring to attention how these affiliations can influence the thinking and decision-making process, as well as the stereotypes, prejudices and nationalism they evoke.

Author Information
Rehana Esmail, The New School, USA

Paper Information
Conference: NACMFCS2014
Stream: Cultural Studies - Political Philosophy

This paper is part of the NACMFCS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon