Identity is perhaps one of the most practical concepts in our daily lives. It is something we are born, live and die with. It is the basis to understand almost every form of human (inter)actions and it is discussed, elaborated, and redefined throughout history. Thinkingabout identity can be very exhausting or frustrating, yet why do we keep doing it?
Today, Carolina Suransky offered us different theoretical frameworks to understand identity, elements that constitute identity,in order to have a deeper understanding about identity especially how its relates to pluralism and globalization. These theories and perspectives offer us explanationsabout identity as a process of self-realization or subjective awareness, as a process of individual reasoning and decision making, or even a constant negotiation between opportunities and restrictions, which are shaped within historical, economic, social and political circumstances. Identity can be understood in context of space and time. It is always contextualized in private and public spheres, and/or the spaces in between. Identity also has time dimensionsof past, present and future. It is how you make sense of your history, your current daily life complexities, and the uncertainty of the future. In my own words, I think identity is the attempt to utilize all of our capacities as a human being to make our existence meaningful.
Oneway to understand the relation of time, space and the formation of identity comes from Dominique Moisi in The Geopolitics of Emotions: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation and Hope are Reshaping the World. Moisi offers us a new perspective on the debate about universal values versus cultural relativity.Heputs forward the notion of human emotions which can create a sense of solidarity. From a very different perspective, Samuel Huntington believes in ‘civilizational identities’ and argues that in the 21st century, the world is divided into eight different civilizations and that contemporary conflicts are based on the clash of these civilizations. Yet another perspective is offered by Chantal Mouffe who stresses the importance of creating spaces for dissent in democracy and come to ‘conflictual consensus’ in a pluralist environment. In the afternoon session, we saw a movie about identity and Partition in India, when in 1947 the country split into India and Pakistan
I think it is important to understand that sometimes, more than civilization, religion, nation, class, and other things, it is emotion that drives us to identify, to find allies, and express our aspirations. Understanding collective emotions enable us to have a clearer view to see motives and patterns of contemporary social complexities, like horizontal conflicts, terrorism, hate speeches on the internet, or even a recent event like Brexit.
In the end, we classify, categorize, and identify things to understand how this world works and to solve our problems. The search of identity is never a simple process and often leads us to conflicts and confrontations. I think the reason why we keep on rethinking identity is because we search fora better world.
Maulida Raviola graduated from University of Indonesia with major in Sociology in 2012. She wrote an undergraduate thesis about the construction of femininity in Indonesian comedy films. She is currently working as the coordinator of a youth-led organization named Pamflet, which aims to encourage Indonesian youth to participate in social change by providing the information and knowledge about activism and human rights; strengthening their access to information, resources and network; and supporting them to create local initiatives.