August 20, 2019

August Shortlist – What is identity?

Tun de Jong

EssayWhat is identity?, 2019

My entry explores the concept of identity against the backdrop of a resurgence of nationalism and identity politics, drawing from my experience with these issues as a Luxembourger and building a bridge between communal identity and individual identity: rooted perhaps, but open still. As our possibilities for the development of our personal and professional lives become ever more abundant and the world becomes smaller, the question of identity becomes a prominent one, deserving of reflection that draws from different perspectives. In a world where clear categories are slowly turning from being the norm to the exception and where, therefore, the appetite for clarity is bigger than ever, it is important to appreciate the value of the muddled, the grey, the ambiguous, the unclassifiable. The urge to distinguish oneself, to stand out, to be unique clashes with the reality of a world becoming increasingly homogenized. Is the by now infamous statement by ex-PM Theresa May that “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere” really true? Drawing on a variety of disciplines, this entry makes the case for a marriage of local patriotism and world citizenship.