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Identity: Fragments, Frankness

by Jean-Luc Nancy Author

In this work of philosophy from French thinker Jean-Luc Nancy, Nancy explores the question of identity in all its relevance to contemporary political questions. Writing in opposition to cynical practitioners using the question of identity to manipulate public sentiment against immigration, the author delves deeply into the perennial questions that surround the notions of identity, nation, and national identity. Arguing that there is never a given identity but always an open process of identification that retains an exposure to difference, Nancy counters the insularity of would-be nationalists by showing that identity can never operate as a self-identical or essential subject. Instead, for Nancy, identity is an ongoing dialectical process of exposure to alterity that "makes itself by seeking and inventing itself." A beautiful and hopeful work of philosophy for an age obsessed with identity that shows the reader that identity is a dynamic and unfolding act, and not a static and essential state.