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

From Pilgrim to Tourist – or a Short History of Identity

From Pilgrim to Tourist – or a Short History of Identity

From pilgrim to tourist – or a short history of identity

‘Identity continues to be the problem it was throughout modernity’, says Douglas Kellner, and adds that ‘far from identity disappearing in contemporary society, it is rather reconstructed and redefined’ – though just a few paragraphs later he casts doubts on the feasibility of the selfsame ‘reconstruction and redefinition’, pointing out that ‘identity today becomes a freely chosen game, a theatrical presentation of the self’ and that ‘when one radically shifts identity at will, one might lose control.’1 Kellner's ambivalence reflects the present ambivalence of the issue itself. One hears today of identity and its problems more often than ever before in modern times. And ...

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