I am writing this paper on the book “Identity and Violene” by Amartya Sen who is a Nobel laureate in economics. In this book he extensively discusses about his concern with the ‘miniaturization’ of human beings. He goes on to touch on the topic on identity in connection with civilization, religion and culture while also in historical context, individual freedoms and globalization. In this book he presents his argument in such a manner that is persuasive and is able to convince the reader of the book easily. This book should be a must read to anyone with any liking to the state of society in this modern age. He argues and points out in his work that humans have multiple identities, with every single person’s identity bringing along an addition to the other people’s lives. This shows that every one of us contributes to each other’s lives be it directly or indirectly. Factors such as race, gender, religion, community or even social status are some of the ways we are able to form a way of creating our identities hence making to people with similar identities very rare. In my thesis I’m trying to show present my argument showing clearly my opinion, thoughts and stance on the topic brought forward in this book.
I concur with the author in the fact that multi culturalism should be advocated since it will enable individuals from different backgrounds to get used to each other and thus it will reduce the number of conflicts arising in the society. I can cite the fact that the major world conflicts such as wars was a result of people not getting along in matters concerning political alliances and religion, each party believing theirs is the more superior and try to fight it out trying to prove themselves right. At the moment almost every country is diverse in that it has citizens from different races, religion and thus fewer conflicts arise since people have learnt how to tolerate each other and are now living in tandem with each other.
Sen goes on and presents two distinct approaches to multiculturalism. The first celebrates diversity as a value in itself promoting isolation of and group in society and a singular affiliation view of human. While the second one celebrates reason and freedom to select above cultural diversity encouraging interaction and viewing people as multi-identitied. As an example to support his argument, Sen points to Britain’s pride in its multiculturalism society is wrong since its type of multiculturalism is in reality ‘plural monoculturalism’ with a majority of its policies only trying to promote the isolation that already exists between communities. For example, Muslim women can wear the hijab only when isolated within their own communities. While interacting and amidst the wider culture they must adjust and conform to the social norms expected. Meaning they will have to not wear the hijab. Sen goes on to suggest ‘mono-pluralism’ which is the freedom to select one’s cultural practices from a group of possibilities in a society with many cultures. This shows how people can be able to practice the culture of their choice without being worried of trying to conform to the rest while still maintaining a peaceful and diverse community. However Sen says that the choice should be limited by the cultured experienced just as the choice of cuisine is always limited and determined by the availability of the individual ingredients.
- John Gray, Thinking out of the box
- Kenan Malik, Amartya Sen: Identity and Violence
- Kenji Yoshino, We contain multitudes