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Reclaiming Identity

Realist Theory and the Predicament of Postmodernism

Paula M. L. Moya (Editor), Michael R. Hames-García (Editor)

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December, 2000.
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"Identity" is one of the most hotly debated topics in literary theory and cultural studies. This bold and groundbreaking collection of ten essays argues that identity is not just socially constructed but has real epistemic and political consequences for how people experience the world. Advocating a "postpositivist realist" approach to identity, the essays examine the ways in which theory, politics, and activism clash with or complement each other, providing an alternative to the widely influential postmodernist understandings of identity. Although theoretical in orientation, this dynamic collection deals with specific social groups—Chicanas/os, African Americans, gay men and lesbians, Asian Americans, and others—and concrete social issues directly related to race, ethnicity, sexuality, epistemology, and political resistance.

Satya Mohanty's brilliant exegesis of Toni Morrison's Beloved serves as a launching pad for the collection. The essays that follow, written by prominent and up-and-coming scholars, address a range of topics—from the writings of Cherrie Moraga, Franz Fanon, Joy Kogawa, and Michael Nava to the controversy surrounding racial program housing on college campuses—and work toward a truly interdisciplinary approach to identity.
Paula M. L. Moya is Assistant Professor of English at Stanford University. Michael R. Hames-Garcia is Assistant Professor of English at SUNY Binghamton.
"This collection is wide ranging and provides insights into the complex identity problematic from a fresh and provocative realist perspective, with each essay building upon and extending this theory in new directions."—Rosaura Sanchez, author of Telling Identities: The Californio Testimonies and Chicano Discourse

"Challenging, contentious, informative and giving full substance to the experiences of the subaltern, this groundbreaking collection carries us through a rich range of materials just where life in the historical humanities is most vital." —Jose David Saldivar, author of Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies

"These authors provide careful, complex, and powerful accounts of why we all should rethink current fashionable dismissals of the value and the reality of identity. Rather than take sides in the older forms of these debates, the essays move the issues forward onto far more productive postpositivist and postcolonial terrain. This reframing of identity, experience, and realism issues is long overdue."—Sandra Harding, author of Is Science Multicultural?: Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies

"Reclaiming Identity is an important contribution to scholarly yet politically engaged inquiry across the disciplines. Its well planned chapters converge on an attempt to work out a postpositivist, realist response to poststructural challenges -- a response that involves rethinking and selectively rehabilitating such crucial, contested concepts as experience and identity. The book develops thought-provoking arguments that should engage even its objects of criticism and be of interest to historians and social scientists as well as literary critics, philosophers, and critical theorists." —Dominick LaCapra, author of Rethinking Intellectual History: Texts, Contexts, Language, Representing the Holocaust, and History and Memory after Auschwitz, among other titles.

"Scholars and social scientists interested in identity--in psychology,sociology, philosophy, ethnic studies, and the humanities--should read this collection of sparkling and provocative essays. Navigating the waters between positivist and post-modern accounts of identity, the essays work remarkably well together to illuminate the point that identity, although obviously constructed and continually reconstructed in the flow of everyday experience, is also real and can be systematically analyzed because it is real in its behavioral consequences." —Hazel Rose Markus, co-editor of Emotion and Culture: Empirical Studies of Mutual Influence

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