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5.0 out of 5 stars
A noble idea, articulated in a truly scholarly fashion, 12 Sep 2008
An outstanding contribution to contemporary discourses on the politics of identity, `Identity and Violence - The Illusion of Destiny' is reminiscent of the intellect and wisdom only a scholar of Amartya Sen's stature could offer in the face of this prime challenge of our time.
Recognising the complex and multifaceted nature of our modern identities, Sen argues that communitarian and cultural thinking that is the bedrock of conventional communal and collective identities results in a divisive reductionism that is bound to evoke conflict. He then articulates an alternative approach founded on the view that individuals form their identities through their diversely different set of attributes, associations and affiliations. These pluralities of human identity, he believes, cut across each other and work against a sharp separation along one single hardened line of impenetrable division.
In other words, in a strategic alteration of the relation between the core concepts, he challenges our currently dominant paradigm of thinking and offers a richer, more flexible and more comprehensive framework of perceptions. This new approach, he convincingly argues, enables individuals and societies to rise above their divisions; transcend superficial boundaries and barriers; and reach a new understanding that unites mankind, not in spite of, but precisely because of her rich diversity.
Luckily in this work he has used accessible everyday examples throughout the book, making the argument easy to understand for average but enthusiastic readers, in spite of the abstract and complex nature of the subject matter. This very quality also goes a long way in illumination of his thinking process and his trace of thought, clarifying the way for those who welcome the opportunity for a more thorough engagement with scholarly essays.
I am sure such an engagement with this book, provokes a whole set of challenging questions in a well informed, enquiring mind, as well as many sparkles of new ideas in an alert fresh mind.
P. S. I strongly recommend this book to all those who have faced/visited Norman Tebbit's famous cricket test in their personal, professional or intellectual life.