Resisting Identities: A Found Theme

Essay Excerpt

The papers collected in "Resisting Identities" were submitted and reviewed independently from one another and, in the majority of cases, were submitted to the journal under its previous editor, Fred Myers of New York University. Lastsummer,while reading through the boxes of manuscripts shipped here from the NYU editorial office, I found that a number of promising manuscripts spoke, in a variety of ways, to the vexed issue of how we, as ethnographers, ought to relate to the identity politics of variously marginalized ethnographic subjects. Should some identities, even if they involve essentializing, be celebrated by ethnographersas acts of resistance by the oppressed? Or should ethnographic analysis position itself as resisting any and all essentialized identities? Together, the papers document that these questions are unsettling for cultural anthropologists working in a wide range of ethnographic contexts and, similarly, that these questions cut across the boundaries of various areal literatures, perhaps more than we otherwise would recognize. The papers do not point to, or converge on, any singular anthropological position, nor do they fall neatly into some pair of opposite sides (e.g., those sympatheticto versus those critical of "strategic essentialism"). Rather, to borrow a resonant metaphor from Jim Boon, these richly ethnographic papers "chromaticize" these difficult questions-productively, I think (n.d.). (Segal, 431-432)

About the Author

Daniel Segal is a Professor of Anthropology at Pitzer College. 

In the spring of 2013, I am teaching:

●The World Since 1492 (with Professor Johnson)

●THE CITY: Issues of Sustainability, Social Stratification, Democratic Public Spheres, Privatization, Cosmopolitanism and the Arts(Advanced Seminar in Social Inquiry)

My most recent publication (co-authored with Ken Pomeranz) is: “World History: Departures and Variations,” in the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World History.

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