Identity Politics in India and Europe combines qualitative methods (20 interviews) with historical and philosophical analysis. The first part of the book discusses the history of perceptions between the Europe of Latin Christianity and the so-called Muslim world, starting from the 7th century onwards. The second part is devoted to a discussion on the emergence of modernity and how it changed the identity politics of earlier times. The third part explores the role that intellectual elites have to play. It comprises interviews of eminent scholars and thinkers in India such as Imtiaz Ahmad and Ashis Nandy. These make for an insightful read, especially as subtle ideological differences surface in their responses to a set of common questions.
Since a large part of the negotiation of personal and collective identity takes place in and through the medium of language, a word on semantics is in place. Semantics, traditionally, is the theory of meaning of any formal or natural language. For the purpose of this analysis, I follow a pragmatist account of meaning as outlined by Wittgenstein in his later work.1 Wittgenstein rejects the traditional conception of meaning that he identifies with Augustine, and according to which each word of the language corresponds to an entity that is its meaning.2 ‘Meanings’, according to Wittgenstein, do not have to be conceptualised as entities at all. Thus, Wittgenstein says: ‘The meaning of a word is its use in the language.’3 The use of an expression, ...