The Making of Political Identities

Published by Verso in 1994.


This lively book examines the major issues raised by the emergence and transformation of various political identities in the contemporary world. The contributors bring together many current trends of thought—Lacanian psychoanalysis, deconstruction, neo-Hegelianism and political philosophy—that are relevant to the question of identity, as well as concrete studies of some of the more important political identities which have emerged in recent decades. A central theme of the book is the logic implicit in the Freudian category of identification and its consequences for understanding politics.

The first half of the book explores the theoretical dimensions of the issue of identity formation. The second half brings these more abstract considerations to bear on a number of case studies—the structure of apartheid in South Africa, the rise of Islam, the Palestinian diaspora, the explosion of national identities in former Yugoslavia, the Greens in Germany, and the spread of Rastafarianism in Britain.


Introduction by Ernesto Laclau


1 Minding the Gap: The Subject of Politics by Ernesto Laclau and Lilian Zac
2 Identity and Its Vicissitudes: Hegel’s ‘Logic of Essence’ as a Theory of Ideology by Slavoj Žižek
3 Yes Absolutely: Unlike Any Writing Pen by Rodolphe Gasche
4 Equality at the Limit of Liberty by Claudia Hilb


5 Social Ambiguity and the Crisis of Apartheid by Aletta J. Norval
6 ‘A Country of Words’: Conceiving the Palestinian Nation from the Position of Exile by Glenn Bowman
7 Rastafari as Resistance and the Ambiguities of Essentialism in the ‘New Social Movements’ by Anna Marie Smith
8 The Crisis of Identity and the Struggle for New Hegemony in the Former Yugoslavia by Renata Salecl
9 The Green Threshold by Zoltdn Szankay
10 Sign O’ Times: Kaffirs and Infidels Fighting the Ninth Crusade by Bobby Sayyid

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