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Identity Complex

Identity Complex: Making the Case for Multiplicity

Michael Hames-García
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Identity Complex
    Book Description:

    Grounded in both theoretical and political practices—in the lived realities of people’s experience—Identity Complex reinvigorates identity as a key concept and as a tool for the pursuit of social justice. Michael Hames-García draws on a wide range of examples to show that social identities are central to how exploitation works.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7831-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. 1 Who Are Our Own People?
    (pp. 1-38)

    I have never assumed identity to be a simple matter, and, in my own life, I have always treaded haltingly through the tangled thicket of class, gender, race, and sexuality. For example, as an assistant professor, I had the good fortune to connect with a senior white male colleague who shared some of my interests in teaching in prisons and together we worked to offer classes at a nearby maximum-security prison for men. As an activist–scholar, I considered this an extraordinary opportunity to make progressive scholarship available to a community I considered my own, despite having never spent time...

  5. 2 How Real Is Race?
    (pp. 39-68)

    Few would deny that social identity has become a primary means for political action within liberal democracy. However, many bemoan this fact, and “identity politics” has become a pejorative, frequently denoting at best an unproductive approach to social change—as, for example, in Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s 2009 confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate.¹ Within the academy, furthermore, a strong body of work has emerged over the past two decades in opposition to the concept of identity.² Some critics argue that the multiplicity of identity vitiates any stable notion of the category, while others charge that many identities—and...

  6. 3 Are Sexual Identities Desirable?
    (pp. 69-112)

    On May 11, 2004, Federico Mérida, twenty-one, shot and killed Falah Zaggam, seventeen. According to newspaper reports, Mérida—a Mexican American from North Carolina, a husband and father, and a private in the U.S. National Guard—stood watch with Zaggam, a private in the Iraqi National Guard, on a military base near Tikrit, in northern Iraq. While on duty together, the two engaged in sexual activity, after which Mérida shot Zaggam eleven times, including one shot through the palm of his hand and one through his back. From there, accounts of what transpired that evening vary. Mérida’s own story of...

  7. 4 Do Prisons Make Better Men?
    (pp. 113-150)

    Almost everyone in the United States has at one time or another either told or heard a joke about prison rape. No one doubts the presence of same-sex rape in men’s prisons and many people accept it as inevitable. Television writers Aaron McGruder and Rodney Barnes even chose to make the fear of it an object of extended parody in the fifth episode of their animated television comedyThe Boondocks.¹ They suggest that the fear of “being anally raped” in prison serves as the most powerful force in dictating the life choices of at least one major character, a black...

  8. Conclusion: Reflections on Identity in the Obama Era
    (pp. 151-156)

    In 2009, Barack Hussein Obama became the first president of African descent in the history of the United States. Like many left-leaning voters, I saw my own vote for Obama as largely symbolic. I did not expect him to pursue a political agenda significantly more progressive than that of President Clinton nor did I hold any particular faith in the power of U.S. presidential electoral democracy to bring about an end to oppression. Yet I suspect that precisely the symbolism of Obama’s election has posed, in some ways, a significant challenge to progressive thinkers. ANew York Times–CBS News...

  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 157-160)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 161-184)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 185-214)
  12. Index
    (pp. 215-223)