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WS: Identity - a Contested Category


Jan 29, 2024 from 02:00 to 05:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)


GCSC (SR 109)

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Although the height of the identity debates in the 1980s and 1990s seems to have passed, the category of “identity” is still, surprisingly, flourishing. Contemporary discussions depict this “umbrella term” as a problematic, highly contested (but still useful?) category, whose analytical scope as well as positive and negative evaluations will be explored in this workshop. To what extent can we even make the worn-out “identity” category productive for our own work again? In which sense can we speak of post-identity? And will the category of identity itself be changed and shaped as a post-concept?
We should distinguish between identity as a category of practice and organization of social movements, processes of migration, etc. and identity as an analytical category of research. An aim of this workshop will be to differentiate this ubiquitous term in a critical way. Our discussions will go beyond questions of personal identity towards issues of collective identities – of agent-oriented versus ascription-oriented forms of identity and identification. We will try to develop (new) alternative terms that might work in functionally equivalent ways while avoiding the pitfalls of the identity concept. 
This class consists of three parts. In its first part, an introductory lecture on different approaches to the identity concept will be presented – including cross-disciplinary insights into contemporary problem fields and discourses of political, ethnic, cultural, gender-oriented and migrational identity, also post-identity approaches. In its second part, we could refer to a critical, thought-provoking  and seminal essay: “Beyond ‘Identity.’” (Brubaker/Cooper 2000). In its third part, our focus will be challenged by the other questions arising from the topic of the upcoming conference "Disrupted Identities in the Light of 'Post-Everything'" organized by the Research Area 6 Cultural Identities.

If you want to take part online, please contact Anastasiia Marsheva ( by the 21st of January.


// Dr. Doris Bachmann-Medick


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