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Dr Fang-Long Shih
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On the Geopolitics of Identity

With Professor Allen Chun (Academia Sinica, Taipei)

Series:  London Taiwan Seminar|

Date: Thursday 15 February 2008, 6pm-8pm

Venue: Room G51, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

Chair: Mr Stuart Thompson (Taiwan Culture Research Programme)

Abstract

The trope of identity, whether it is couched in ethnicity, culture, race, gender or other personal and social attributes, has been in recent decades a powerful construct in literary criticism, cultural studies, history, race and gender studies, often subsuming an identity politics and invoking deeper debates within social sciences and humanities.  Despite its seemingly interdisciplinary usages and broad theoretical ramifications, the concept of identity and the way in which it has reified fields and positions rooted in its diverse attributes have been conditioned by semantically flawed usages and provincial disciplinary assumptions that have influenced the way we understand their meanings and their presumed relevance to social relations and concrete institutional practices. I argue to the contrary that the pragmatics of identity is less a function of given claims about ethnicity, culture, etc., than a function of ongoing, changing geopolitical spaces.

1) Ethnicity, Culture and Identity Revisited
2) Disenfranchising Concepts from their Disciplinary Mindsets
3) Discursive Fictions in a World of Geopolitical Processes
4) Crises of Context in the Ecology of Practice

Although this is largely a review of the theoretical literature in the social sciences, its relevance to Taiwan "ethnicity" debates and "identity" politics should be obvious.

About the speaker

Professor Allen Chun, Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan 11529.

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