In the Name of Identity Book Summary - In the Name of Identity Book explained in key points
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In the Name of Identity summary

Amin Maalouf

Violence and the Need to Belong

3.8 (28 ratings)
12 mins

Brief summary

In the Name of Identity by Amin Maalouf is a thought-provoking exploration of the roots of identity, how they are formed, and how they can be used and abused. It offers insight into the complexities of individual and group identity in a globalized world.

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    In the Name of Identity
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    “Identity” is a deceptive and loaded word that requires close examination.

    How do you define your identity? Do you define yourself by your gender, your nationality, your sexuality, or all three?

    The truth is that it’s no easy question to answer. Identity is a complex concept formed from the various affiliations that make us each unique, such as our religion, job, race, nationality, the people we admire, our hobbies, sexual preferences, etc.

    But such allegiances aren’t fixed, despite what we may think. Over time, we identify more with some and less with others. These changes can happen over years or from one moment to the next when one aspect of our identity comes to the forefront. For example, a wealthy person from a low socioeconomic class might feel a strong working class pride when mingling at a party of people who inherited their wealth.

    While many people’s identities vary from moment to moment, others have much more fixed conceptions about who they are. They might exclusively identify with one affiliation, be it their nation, religion or class, and consider the rest secondary.

    However, creating rigid hierarchies about who we are can be problematic. One danger is demanding that others identify themselves in hierarchies as well, even when things aren’t that simple.

    The author has experienced this imposition first hand. He’s a Lebanese novelist who immigrated to France when he was 27. His first language is Arabic, but he writes in French, and France has now been his home country for 22 years. And, although his roots are Islamic, he is a Christian.

    Often when he has explained his atypical background to someone he is asked, “So deep inside, what do you feel like: French or Lebanese?” The author finds such questions misguided, because a person’s identity isn’t divisible into halves or quarters, or any fractions at all. A person isn’t more one thing than the other, nor does she have many different identities. Rather, identity is the collection of all our characteristics combined together.

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    What is In the Name of Identity about?

    In the Name of Identity (1998) explores the fallacies surrounding the idea of identity. The author uncovers the link between oversimplified, one-dimensional understandings of identity to violent cultural and sociopolitical clashes in the past and present, while arguing that identity and a global community of humankind are both compatible and desirable.

    In the Name of Identity Review

    In the Name of Identity (1998) by Amin Maalouf explores the complex nature of identity in today's interconnected world. Here are three reasons why this book is worth reading:

    • Unpacking the concept of identity, it offers profound insights into how personal and collective identities are formed and evolve over time.
    • Maalouf's examination of cultural, religious, and national identities allows readers to reflect on their own identities and how they shape their perceptions and behaviors.
    • With its thought-provoking questions and nuanced perspective, the book challenges readers to question and redefine their understanding of identity in a rapidly changing world.

    Best quote from In the Name of Identity

    I am not of their religion, but I too am a man, and I ought to be treated humanely. Mohammed Ali

    —Amin Maalouf
    example alt text

    Who should read In the Name of Identity?

    • Adolescents who feel their identity is not easily categorizable
    • People who feel anxious about the homogenization of culture
    • Any individual who wants to better understand the modern clash of civilizations

    About the Author

    Amin Maalouf is a French-Lebanese novelist who has written seven books, including The Gardens of Light, Leo Africanus and The Rock of Tanios, which was awarded the Goncourt Prize. He was the director of An-Nahar, the leading newspaper in Beirut, and lives in Paris.

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    In the Name of Identity FAQs 

    What is the main message of In the Name of Identity?

    The main message of In the Name of Identity explores the complex relationship between identity and a sense of belonging.

    How long does it take to read In the Name of Identity?

    The reading time for In the Name of Identity varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in around 15 minutes.

    Is In the Name of Identity a good book? Is it worth reading?

    In the Name of Identity is a thought-provoking book that delves into the concept of identity. It is definitely worth a read for those interested in exploring this topic.

    Who is the author of In the Name of Identity?

    The author of In the Name of Identity is Amin Maalouf.

    What to read after In the Name of Identity?

    If you're wondering what to read next after In the Name of Identity, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Allen Carr's Easy Way to Quit Emotional Eating by Allen Carr
    • Identity by Francis Fukuyama
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