Monday, July 14, 2008

Malik, Kenan. "Identity is That Which is Given."

Malik, Kenan. Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate. Oxford: Oneworld, 2008. Excerpt: We’re All Multiculturalists Now observed the American academic, and former critic of pluralism, Nathan Glazer in the title of a book. And indeed we are. The celebration of difference, respect for pluralism, avowal of identity politics - these have come to be regarded as the hallmarks of a progressive, antiracist outlook and as the foundation of modern liberal democracies. Ironically, culture has captured the popular imagination just as anthropologists themselves have started worrying about the very concept. After all, what exactly is a culture? What marks its boundaries? In what way is a 16-year old British born boy of Pakistani origin living in Bradford of the same culture as a 50-year old man living in Lahore? Does a 16-year white boy from Bradford have more in common culturally with his 50-year-old father than with that 16-year old ‘Asian’? Such questions have led most anthropologists today to reject the idea of cultures as fixed, bounded entities. Some reject the very idea of culture as meaningless. ‘Religious beliefs, rituals, knowledge, moral values, the arts, rhetorical genres, and so on’, the British anthropologist Adam Kuper suggests, ‘should be separated out from each other rather than bound together into a single bundle labelled culture’. ‘To understand culture’, he concludes, ‘we must first deconstruct it. . . . Read the rest here: Other long excerpts may be found here: and A review may be found here (

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