Identity Politics and Security
Identity politics have always been a feature of international and domestic life, but one could argue that their prominence has grown over the last 20 years. And accompanying this post-Cold War prominence is a slew of questions that have been asked before, although obviously not to everyone’s satisfaction.
Is the political invocation and exploitation of identity a positive means to create political community or not? Is it actually desirable, given the inevitable danger of in-group versus out-group hostility? Should the identity politics of today be, as has traditionally been the case, grounded in religion, culture, geography and society, or must it inevitably reflect an eclectic mix of these categories, and new ones too? What about nationalism – just how robust is this venerable form of political-cultural identity formation today? And what about the role of individual and collective emotions? It’s often presupposed that creating and maintaining political-cultural identity requires intense emotions, but is that necessarily true?
The answers to these questions may not be as clear as desired because when we ask them what we’re really doing is raising the specter, yet again, of how we go about building "symbolic codes of distinction" amongst ourselves. Because these codes then spill over into how we go about defining "security" and other concepts, the answers we seek continue to taunt us. They taunt us, as George Friedman discusses today, when it comes to defining citizenship. They also complicate the self-definitions and security postures pursued by Egypt, Israel, the US and China, as we will successively discuss over the course of this week.
20 Aug 2012 / Special Feature
What factors influence conceptions of political and national identity in today’s world? STRATFOR’s George Friedman argues that notions of citizenship and nationhood are becoming increasingly ambiguous, with potential negative consequences as a result. More on «Geopolitics, Nationalism and Dual Citizenship»
21 Aug 2012 / Special Feature
The fall of the Mubarak regime provided Egypt with an unparalleled opportunity to reshape and redefine its political identity. Today, we discuss with the CSS' Lorenzo Vidino the extent to which the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood has changed Egypt's political identity and consider the implications of this change for Cairo's foreign and security policies. More on «Reshaping Political Identity in Egypt»
22 Aug 2012 / Special Feature
Religion is fundamental to Israeli identity politics and cannot be separated from the country’s geography or society, argues Tova Norlen. This, however, does not translate into uniform thinking when it comes to defining Israel’s security dilemmas. More on «Israeli Identity and its Security Dilemmas»
23 Aug 2012 / Audio
Identity politics impact US presidential races in distinct ways. Yes, a host of ethno-political identity groups use their power to influence security debates, but what also matters, Xenia Dormandy argues, is the foreign policy “identity” each candidate conveys to the rest of the world. More on «Identity, Security and the Race for the White House»
24 Aug 2012 / Special Feature
China's rapid integration into what is still a Western-dominated international system has challenged official narratives about nations and states. One result of this challenge, argues Christian Wirth, is that historical education and the maps we create and use have become integral to 'higher-level' identity-politics. More on «China's 'Significant Others'»