Room C204, College Building. Middlesex University, The Burroughs, Hendon, London NW4 4BT.
The Perspectives in Religion Research Seminar will host four sessions in April 2015, on identity and belonging. The seminars start with a reading of Martin Heidegger's lecture The Principle of Identity (1957) and Jean-Luc Nancy's The Inoperative Community (1985-86) which is both (1) a recuperation of the fundamental level of questioning we have to establish when dealing with these concepts and (2) a reading of one in terms of the other. Heidegger's attempt to think the principle of identity (A=A) as grounded in the belonging together of thinking and being establishes an inaccessible and inescapable difference within identity (the repetition of A in the principle of identity is both a sameness and a difference, in the same respect). Identity refers back to belonging. Nancy's notion of the togetherness of community as grounded in a foundational unavailability of identity, which is both ground and goal of community, and hence its principle of non-identity, reflects aspects of Heidegger's considerations to create an idea of community that is no longer based on a shared essence or identity defined in terms of its negation of an other. The work of community, which is the work of liberation, is to safeguard against the colonisation of belonging by identity-as-essence. A radical interpretation of the Christian community of the faithful or the Buddhist Sangha could echo Nancy's ideas. But we generally assume that meaning relies on identity and on a form of belonging or sharing; we use the concept of identity in emancipatory identity politics, in understanding the conditions of personhood, community, collective, ethics and communication. How can we think the unsettling and transgressive condition, if not reality, of identity and belonging and what are the ramifications of such a thinking? Is there a need for a concept of identity beyond its destruction and what could it be?
Dates: 8, 15, 22, 29 April 2015
Perspectives in Religion Research Network.