Negotiation of Identities in Multilingual Contexts

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George Ganat


Post-modern, post-structural, and post-colonial thought have brought to the fore new and productive metaphors for understanding social life, challenging normative ideologies that restrict the deployment of certain personal identities. By surfacing implicit power relations traditionally accepted as common sense (Bourdieu, Foucault), locating fissures and intertextualities within discourses previously considered stable and coherent (Bakhtin, Derrida), and elucidating third spaces between dichotomous identity labels (Butler, Bhabha), critical thinkers in this vein have undermined the notion of an essentially stable self and encouraged exploration of social identity as a complex and shifting phenomenon. These commitments in turn offer profound critiques of socio-political structures in the name of liberating oppressed – or dispreferred – selves. However, with their inherently political stance and disregard for strict empirical inquiry, these discourses have simultaneously generated their own counter-productive biases and naiveties.

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