Who Are We: And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?
Gary Younge. Nation, $26.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-56858-660-1
British columnist Younge expands on his first book, No Place Like Home, to continue making sense of the shuttlecock of "identity" as it gets bandied right and left in culture and politics. For Younge, the complexities of in-group identity, notions of authenticity in law and religion, or rising xenophobia against particular immigrant groups all boil down to fundamental questions of power, who wields it and to what end. Identities, in this light, become "how we think about ourselves in relation to others." He uses the prism of power to examine the interplay between identity and influence in such diverse phenomena as white men in America, disgruntled at perceiving their loss of influence; Israeli Zionism's investment in Jewishness as a determinant of national inclusion; and Ireland's increasingly conflicted conception of "Irish womanhood." Younge's analyses are sound and to the point. He neatly counters, for example, the insistence in Europe that problems around Muslim immigrants are problems, essentially, with Islam. With just and clearly articulated principles of inclusion and fairness, Younge's analysis is a timely, encouraging read that points to social transformations happily within reach. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/09/2011