Identities and Identifications
Politicized Uses of Collective Identities
CALL FOR PAPERS AND PANELS
22 – 23 June 2017
Villa Vittoria – Palazzo dei Congressi
Deadline for Paper Proposals: 10th of May 2017
Identity is one of the crown jewelries in the kingdom of ‘contested concepts’. Few concepts are so integral to social assumptions, beliefs and claims of belonging while simultaneously escaping a clear definition or even a minimal consensus. The idea of identity is conceived to provide some unity and recognition while it also exists by separation and differentiation. From personal to group and collective identities, multiple layers of identifications juxtapose conflict or exclude. Few concepts were used as much as identity for contradictory purposes. From the fragile individual identities as self-solidifying frameworks, to layered in-group identifications in families, orders, organizations, religions, ethnic groups, regions, nation-states, supra-national entities or any other social entities, the idea of identity always shows up in the core of debates and makes everything either too dangerously simple or too complicated. Constructivist and de-constructivist strategies have led to the same result: the eternal return of the topic. Some say we should drop the concept, some say we should keep it and refine it, some say we should look at it in a dynamic fashion while some say it’s the reason for resistance to change. In the meantime, identities are programmatically asserted and promoted to generate cohesion and demand recognition while the process of identification excludes and creates boundaries and alterity making practices.
If identities are socially constructed and not genuine formations, they still hold some responsibility for inclusion/exclusion – self/other nexuses. Looking at identities in a research oriented manner provides explanatory tools for a wide variety of events and social dynamics. Identities reflect the complex nature of human societies and generate reasonable comprehension for processes that cannot be explained by tracing pure rational driven pursuit of interests. The feelings of attachment, belonging, recognition, the processes of values’ formation and norms integration, the logics of appropriateness generated in social organizations, are all factors relying on a certain type of identity or identification. Multiple identifications overlap, interact, include or exclude, conflict or enhance cooperation. Identities create boundaries and borders; define the in-group and the out-group, the similar and the excluded, the friend and the threatening, the insider and the ‘other’. Even more, identities generate legitimating circumstances for social and political action; assert the power of naming and rules of belonging while setting the stage for the perception of the other. The other can be internal, as difference and incomplete coherence with the in-group, or external as acknowledged difference or even in cases of radical alterity as perceived threat. The formation of identities can lead to multicultural integration of diversity, tolerance, recognition and pluralism while simultaneously exclude and build walls.
Beyond their dynamic fuzzy nature that escapes exhaustive explanations, identities are effective instruments for the politicization of social life. The construction of social structures and of specific social practices together with their imaginary significations, requires all the time an essentialist or non-essentialist legitimating act of belonging; a social glue that extracts its cohesive function from the identification of the in-group. Identities are political. Multicultural values populate extensively the twenty-first century, yet the distance between the ideal and the real multiculturalism persists while the virtues of inclusion coexist with the adversity of exclusion. Dealing with the identities means to integrate contestation into contestation until potentially a ‘n’ degree of contestation. Due to the confusion between identities and identifications, some scholars demanded that the concept of identity shall be abandoned. Identitarian issues turned out to be efficient tools for politicization of a ‘constraining dissensus’ while universalizing terms included in the making of the identities usually tend or intend to obscure the localized origins of any identitarian project. Identities are most often advanced as intentional concepts: they don’t say anything about their sphere but rather defining the sphere makes explicit the aim of their usage. It is not ‘identity of’ but ‘identity to’.
The Sixth Euroacademia International Conference ‘Identities and Identifications: Politicized Uses of Collective Identities’ aims to scrutinize the state of the art in collective identities research, to bring once more into debate the processes of identity making, identity building in both constructivist or de-constructivist dimensions. The conference will include a wide variety of contributions on identity making practices while fostering a critical assessment of intended or unintended consequences that lead to the politicization of identities. It is the aim of the Euroacademia conference to open the floor to dynamic multi-dimensional and inter-disciplinary understandings of identities in their historic formation or in the way they shape the present and future of organizations or communities. The conference however seeks also to integrate and address the misunderstandings or misconceptions implicit to identity formation practices. A focal place will be given to methodological refinement and innovation in the research of identities in a broad spectrum of disciplines.
Euroacademia aims to bring together a wide network of intellectuals, academics, researchers, practitioners and activists that are willing to share and open to debate their research on identity related topics. Disciplinary, trans and inter-disciplinary approaches, methodological assessments, innovations and recommendations, single case studies or cross-sectional analyses, reflective essays, experience sharing or works addressing new puzzles are all welcomed.
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