The discussion of identity in the social sciences, particularly in the context of emigration, exile, multiculturalism, etc., has achieved such ubiquity that it is easy to sympathize with Edward Said's one-time admission that he was left increasingly cold by the whole topic (1998: 83). Perhaps this is partly the fault of the degree of abstraction with which the question is so often treated. What is at stake, after all, is an issue fundamental to human sociability: how and why it becomes possible to think of oneself as a part of something more extensive than oneself; how and why 'I' relates to 'we'. Pnina Werbner's discussion of this most fashionable concern is grounded in her long-term investigative involvement with the British-Pakistani Muslim community in Manchester and elsewhere in England. Although the author refers throughout to the ongoing contretemps of postcolonial and cultural theory, her account benefits very much from its concern to be true to the experiences of individuals and groups seeking to express themselves in the messy, ambiguous circumstances of their lives.
- social identity
- cultural theory