The book “In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong” is one of those tome that everyone should purpose to read. It addresses the dangers of personal, religious, ethical and national identities contending that these identities allow and often incite the masses to engage in appalling acts of violence upon those with a different identity. Maalouf straightforwardly addresses complicated subjects such as how the public critic religious practices that have adopted violence and brutality; contemporary manifestations of “otherness”; how language expedites nationalism; and the inconsistency between blunt identity-based political conflicts and how these unchanged identity-based cultures can be shared by diverse groups.
Through the book, heilluminates the roots of violence and hatred, which he perceives in tribalistic forms of identity. He argues that people’s convictions and notions of identity- whether cultural, ethnic, religious, or national-are socially habituated and frequently dangerous. However, he also proposes that people retain their distinctive, but subsume it under the nave of common understanding.
In my own perception, in this volume we have received a very workable programme for strewing the radicalism that so besets the present society. We have also receive a program for more comfortably realizing that each one of us is a plural and at the same time a singular entity. Maalouf, expertly verifies thatwe are plural in identity and allegiance, and if this is understood, we have the prospect of a future that is more tilted towards peace than war
I expressly enjoyed this book. It is an excellent primer on some of the issues that plague the current society. However, this doesnot portend that I agree with him on his thoughts. First, he appears to be equating modernity with westernism and presuppose that there is such a thing as “The West”. Secondly, the author dedicates a big portion of the book to Europe’s relationship with Islam. The book is about identity and not about the European-Islamic fellowship. This gave the book a Eurocentric position as opposed to a universal one. The book would have benefited significantly from experiences from the Japan and EastAsia regions, where modernity was realized with minimum “westernization”. Thirdly, the ideas expressed are larger than the short length of the book can fully develop. Therefore it would be expected that a second book should be released to give it a wider scope.
In conclusion, the book gives an optimistic view and verve for life and the “human adventure”. It does not simply analyze the status quo and the harms human nature causes, but it proposes paths towards solutions. It is totally inspiring, light in its flair and short. You could not have a better book about identity. I highly recommended this book.
Maalouf, A. (March 2012). In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong. (B. Bray, Trans.) New York: Arcade Publishing.
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