Introduction Identity, History, Narrative

  • Michael Borgstrom
Part of the The Future of Minority Studies book series (FMS)


It is time to return to identity. To many, such an assertion may sound paradoxical, even naive, since it could be argued that analytical work over the past several decades has never really abandoned considerations of identity. Studies of race, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, class, and disability (and the intersections among them) continue to be produced by scholars in a number of fields, and this sustained interest in identity appears to be mirrored in the popular consciousness as well. It clearly matters a great deal to a great many people, for example, that the United States elected its first president of (known) African American descent; that President Obama, in turn, nominated the first Latina woman to the nation’s Supreme Court; that the economic challenges during this presidency’s infancy have highlighted profound disparities in class; and that one of the primary political (and social) issues confronting the new administration is whether gay and lesbian citizens should, or should not, have the right to marry. Identity, it seems, is as pertinent a topic as it ever has been.


Social Knowledge Social Identity Racial Identity Progressive Politics Social Difference 
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  1. 1.
    As my comments here indicate, extremely diverse groups of critics, for extremely diverse reasons, have argued forcefully against both identity-based social struggles and analyses of identity more generally While some see identity categories (and, indeed, identity itself) as threatening to individual freedom, others worry that such coalitions endanger progressive social movement; consequently, identity-based analyses have been assailed by a wide spectrum of political sensibilities. The scholarship here is far-reaching, and I will discuss particular instances of these various positions in the chapters that follow. For representative examples, however, see Peter Brimelow, Alien Nation: Common Sense about America’s Immigration Disaster (New York: Harper Perennial, 1996)Google Scholar
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© Michael Borgstrom 2010

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  • Michael Borgstrom

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