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After Identity
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Book description

Social and political theorists have traced in detail how individuals come to possess gender, sex and racial identities. This book examines the nature of these identities. Georgia Warnke argues that identities, in general, are interpretations and, as such, have more in common with textual understanding than we commonly acknowledge. A racial, sexed or gendered understanding of who we and others are is neither exhaustive of the 'meanings' we can be said to have nor uniquely correct. We are neither always, or only, black or white, men or women or males or females. Rather, all identities have a restricted scope and can lead to injustices and contradictions when they are employed beyond that scope. In concluding her argument, Warnke considers the legal and policy implications that follow for affirmative action, childbearing leave, the position of gays in the military and marriage between same-sex partners.

Reviews

‘Georgia Warnke is a past master in the theory and practice of political hermeneutics. Here she turns her interpretative prowess to the logic of racial, sex, and gender identification and manages to generate a wealth of novel insights into familiar problems. Identifications, she lucidly argues, are ways of understanding ourselves and others; like interpretations of texts, they are unavoidably contextual, purposeful, and partial; thus any attempt to deploy them as all-purpose markers inevitably leads to the sorts of conflicts and quandaries that now pervade our public life. Warnke's is the most cogent foundational case I know for the sheer irrelevance of race, sex, and gender identifications in the major institutions of our society.’

Thomas McCarthy - Yale University

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