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A topoloy of culural identity

In this paper I argue that there is a common logic to identity at several levels: the self, historical biography, the nation, mentalities, civilizations and world systems. It follows that we can expect arguments over identity to take certain forms, but it also means there are standard ways of adjudicating between them. It means that identity is temporal, that it may be expected to change over time. In the end, it means that identity has no more reality than that of a “center of narrative gravity,” but also that it has no less. Identities are created, but they are nonetheless real. We must not reify identity, but we neither may we deny it.

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