In the Name of Identity Summary

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  • Topic: Amin Maalouf, Racism, Identity document
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In Amin Maalouf’s book “In the Name of Identity” Maalouf emphasizes that we should not judge people on one singular identity. He argues that, “Identity can’t be compartmentalized. You can’t divide it up into halves or thirds or any other separate segments. I haven’t got several identities: I’ve got just one, made up of many components in mixture that is unique to me, just as other people’s identity is unique to them as individuals.” The essence of Maalouf’s argument is that one should not define another based solely on a singular component of their identity but rather their identity as a whole.

In chapter one, Maalouf suggest that, “… People commit crime nowadays in the name of religious, ethnic, national, or some other kind of identity.” Massacres, racial discrimination, and holocausts have all been done in the name of defending a single component of ones identity. Maalouf makes a valid point when he writes, “What’s known as an identity card carries the holder’s family name, given name, date and place of birth, photograph, a list of certain physical features, the holder’s signature and sometimes also his fingerprints.” Proving that society as a whole selects individual components of their identity to define themselves. According to Maalouf, identity is defined as,”…A number of elements, and these are clearly not restricted to the particulars set down in official records. Of course, for the great majority these factors include allegiance to a religious tradition; to a nationality – sometimes two; to a profession, an institution, or a particular social milieu. But the list is much longer than that; it is virtually unlimited.” Maalouf celebrates the fact that identity is extremely complex. Each person has a single identity, although each identity is made up of many components, causing not one to be the same.

In chapter two Maalouf tries to examine his own identity. Maalouf claims he is not trying to find one singular part of his identity to define himself but...
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