Why and how do contemporary questions of culture so readily become highly charged questions of identity? The question of cultural identity lies at the heart of current debates in cultural studies and social theory. At issue is whether those identities which defined the social and cultural world of modern societies for so long - distinctive identities of gender, sexuality, race, class and nationality - are in decline, giving rise to new forms of identification and fragmenting the modern individual as a unified subject. Questions of Cultural Identity offers a wide-ranging exploration of this issue. Stuart Hall firstly outlines the reasons why the question of identity is so compelling and yet so problematic. The cast of
Introduction: Who Needs ‘Identity’?
There has been a veritable discursive explosion in recent years around the concept of ‘identity’, at the same moment as it has been subjected to a searching critique. How is this paradoxical development to be explained? And where does it leave us with respect to the concept? The deconstruction has been conducted within a variety of disciplinary areas, all of them, in one way or another critical of the notion of an integral, originary and unified identity. The critique of the self-sustaining subject at the centre of post-Cartesian western metaphysics has been comprehensively advanced in philosophy. The question of subjectivity and its unconscious processes of formation has been developed within the discourse of a psychoanalytically influenced feminism and ...