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Introduction to a Poetics of Diversityby Édouard Glissant$
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Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620979

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620979.001.0001

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Culture and Identity

Culture and Identity

(p.37) 3 Culture and Identity*
Introduction to a Poetics of Diversity
Celia Britton
Liverpool University Press

This starts by establishing an opposition between identity conceived as a single root and as a ‘rhizome’, i.e. a multiple network of roots that reach out to other roots. In the Americas, there is often a conflict between the root-identity of the indigenous inhabitants and the rhizome-identity of the descendants of slaves. The role of myth in atavistic communities facilitates their construction of a history, based on the notions of Genesis and filiation, that legitimates their presence in a particular place, which thus becomes a territory. This founding myth also provides a justification for colonial conquest. It is not found in creolized societies, where identity is ‘rhizomatic’. Another example is a conference for peace organised by the Roma in Sarajevo, where, despite their persecution as Roma, they promote a multi-ethnic ideal. The great founding texts of atavistic societies promote an essentialist notion of ‘Being’, which in contemporary society is being replaced by the existent, or ‘being’. The chapter ends with a presentation of ‘trace thought’.

Keywords:   rhizome, Genesis, ‘Being’ and ‘being’, trace thought

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