The Sovereign Self - Pitfalls of Identity Politics

Elisabeth Roudinesco


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Polity Press
25 November 2022
ISBN: 9781509551231
228 pages

From the publisher

The toppling of statues in the name of anti-racism is disconcerting, as is the violence sometimes displayed towards others in the name of gender equality. The emancipation movements of the past seem to have undergone a subtle transformation: the struggle now is not so much to bring about progress but rather to denounce offenses, express indignation, and assert identities, sometimes in order to demand recognition. The individual's commitment to self-definition and self-appreciation, understood as the exercise of a sovereign right, has become a distinctive sign of our time. Elisabeth Roudinesco takes us into the darker corners of identity thinking, where conspiracy theories, rejection of the other, and incitement to violence are often part of the mix. But she also points to several paths that could lead us away from despair and toward a possible world in which everyone can adhere to the principle according to which "I am myself, that's all there is to it" without denying the diversity of human communities or essentializing either universality or difference. This bold and courageous interrogation of identity politics will be of great interest to anyone concerned with the state of our world today.