Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
65 views
65 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
79 views
79 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
67 views
67 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
97 views
97 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats
News
46 views
46 views

Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats

Jessica Hubbard - September 20, 2018
305 Views
1 Comments

Multicultural Britain must face up to its Identity question

The subject of identity is far from an easy one. That is not to say merely that it is difficult to solve – that much is a statement of the obvious. It’s more than that: it has no solution at all. Each of us have not one but many identities, and the course of our lives – particularly as young people figuring out who we are and what our place is in the world – is a constant process of reconciling conflicts and contradictions within ourselves. It is, of course, an intensely personal process, but there are things we can say about how we as a society should think about identity in order that to best understand and live with each other as a community. Modern British politics lacks a nuanced conversation on identity, almost as though we are afraid or embarrassed of the subject; but these are questions which will not answer themselves, and we must collectively face up to solving them.

‘Integration’ is a loaded term, but it is also incredibly important. That might be an unpopular starting point for some, but it is  a vital one; we are all part of one country, and for that to be a liberal, open country we must all buy into the belief that we live, work, love as one people.

But equally we must recognise that people place tremendous value in personal traditions and feeling part of their own conception of their heritage. Misguided attempts to legislate ‘Britishness’, or artificially determine the precise qualities of what ‘the citizen’ must be – what they believe, what they look like, how they behave – do not help. Examples like the French Burqa ban are counter-productive precisely because they send a message that people must choose one identity –  that you can be a Muslim as you understand and interpret it, or you can be a French citizen, but you cannot be both.

Like many people, I’ve spent most of my lifetime not aware of my own identity; I didn’t think about it, I assumed life was as I had experienced it, that everyone was basically the same give or take a few arbitrary differences of genetics. ‘Identity’ was a concern, perhaps, for people on the news having their rights ignored  by their government, or for political movements representing rigidly defined nationalities; but not for me.

But of course all of us have have identities, whether we notice them or not. They exist dormant within us, and become painfully obvious only in conflict. I have a personal example to illustrate this:

In September of this year, I was returning to Brighton  when a newsreader on the car radio began reading a story about what they called a “local dispute” in Leamington Spa. A group of young Sikhs had occupied a gurdwara (a Sikh temple) in protest against an inter-faith couple being married in a traditional wedding ceremony.

Listening to this in the car along with me was my Sikh Indian-born father, my white British mother, and – just to compound the point – our dog, whose dad was a poodle and mum a springer spaniel. You usually hear about ‘culture shocks’ being experienced when visiting exotic locations far abroad, not so much in Leamington Spa – but this was certainly a cultural shock to me.

I mention this for two reasons: First, because we should not assume that remaining culturally distinct is always good for people of minority descent, and integration always the tool of the oppressor. Multiculturalism is to be valued, but it should not stop us from applying liberal ideas to traditional customs, see how they measure up and sometimes opt for liberalism. That doesn’t mean we are abandoning our heritage, or implicitly supporting oppression as some would claim, it is simply a statement of the reality that all of us have within us not one but many strands of identity, that they sometimes contradict with each other, and that they must be resolved based on how we feel and what we think we believe without easy answers.

Second, that a multicultural country – and that is what we are now in the twenty-first century whether we like it or not – must face up to its issue of identity if it is to reconcile its differences and bring itself together as one people, and that those differences are far from resolved.

Too often conversation about identity has been split between an implicit cultural relativism and those demanding assimilation to a set, safe national identity.

The problem with this thinking is that it takes on the one hand identity either to be the realm of the minority, while the majority have no identity (they’re just ‘normal’) and so  should always respect the minority; on the other it holds that there is only one valuable identity and all others should assimilate to it.

For the reasons already given, I’m no cultural relativist. But I am, if you like, an individual relativist in this sense: individual’s subjective conceptions of themselves – who they are, where they belong – are not insignificant academic questions, they go on to impact and shape reality. If a state pursues policies designed to to force integration, in fact these policies tend to alienate those of minority identities instead of integrating them. And in provoking alienation, states water the seeds of their own division; heavy-handed assimilationism becomes counter-productive.

It is not good enough simply to retreat to the comfort of an established identity and understood place in the world, and demand that ‘the system’ recognises your right to respect. And that is equally true of individuals belonging to the majority identity and those of any given minority identity.

We have as liberals (in the broadest sense of the term) at the core of our being certain ideas – democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law and so on. They are ‘British values’ not in the sense that we have a monopoly on them, or that they should be used to try and rigidly force minority groups to assimilate totally to the majority way of thinking, but in the sense that there are commons ideas around which we can all come together. Ideas that are accepted by everyone, regardless of creed or colour, background or belief, upon which we can build the foundations of a society in which the same freedoms and opportunities are extended to every one of us. If we are not all to unite on one rigid and all-encompassing common identity, and I would suggest that we have left behind the age in which that was possible, then we must build a new shared identity; an identity of ideals.

That requires a more nuanced understanding of identity. We are, whether you like the term or not, a melting pot of different identities, with an increasingly mixed and diverse heritage. I mean that of society as a whole and of each of us as individuals. That’s why  ideas like black history month are so important – our history is a rope braided of many strands; it is so much more complicated than we are commonly taught, and the experiences of different groups of people have all too often been wildly different. We should promote those experiences which are forgotten or suppressed, and we must all of us understand different experiences if we are to truly understand each other. Giving value to different conceptions of identity and history is essential not because it is in opposition to traditional ‘Britishness’ but because it compliments it. It allows people to understand where they came from, who they are, and where they’re going. Because the bottom line is we are all moving into the future together.

Our country is not a meaningless geographical entity – we are one country, but more than that we are one people. We  should celebrate the diversity of our pasts and histories, and move forward to building a better country together. There is no contradiction there – it is not just the right option, it is the only one.

 

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
65 views
65 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
79 views
79 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
67 views
67 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
97 views
97 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats
News
46 views
46 views

Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats

Jessica Hubbard - September 20, 2018

One Comment

  1. I know this web site presents quality based content and additional information, is
    there any other site which offers such stuff in quality?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
65 views
Arts
65 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018

Starting university comes with both exciting but potentially daunting changes, with both moving away from home and studying at degree level posing to be two new challenges.…

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist
Film & Theatre
63 views
Film & Theatre
63 views

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist

Anonymous - September 18, 2018

One key film in the development of anyone who grew up in the early 2000s was The Incredibles (2004). It’s comedy, vibrancy, and general sense of fun…

France in Fine Fettle
Sports
79 views
Sports
79 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Prior to the start of the quadrennial tournament this summer, football fans across the world grew sceptical over Russia’s credentials and ability to host the most prestigious…

Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
67 views
Arts
67 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Boredom is impossible when you throw yourself into everything this weird and wonderful city has to offer. The specific and unique cultural wonders of Brighton are indeed…

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
97 views
Arts
97 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

During this year’s Pride Festival, Brighton had the honour of welcoming international pop star and voice of the early 2000s, Britney Spears, to the main stage. Undoubtedly,…

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
1161 views1
Campus News
1161 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats
News
46 views
News
46 views

Students’ Union Apologises for ‘Sexist’ Beermats

Jessica Hubbard - September 20, 2018

The University of Sussex Students' Union (USSU) has apologised after 'sexist' beermats were found in Dig-In Boxes in Freshers' Welcome Bags. The beermats were provided by Brush…

Sussex Lecturer Accused of Making Transphobic Comments Ahead of Brighton Trans Pride 2018
News
104 views1
News
104 views1

Sussex Lecturer Accused of Making Transphobic Comments Ahead of Brighton Trans Pride 2018

Jessica Hubbard - September 15, 2018

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy Lecturer at Sussex, was accused of making transphobic comments in July 2018. This followed various interviews and blog posts by Stock. Stock told…

Welcome 2018 Freshers!
Campus News
106 views
Campus News
106 views

Welcome 2018 Freshers!

Billie-Jean Johnson - September 15, 2018

Ah, Freshers. You’ve no idea the amazing year you have ahead of you! As you read this now, you’ve probably met your flatmates and maybe even met…

A conversation with Kathleen Stock on Transgender Identity
Opinion
117 views
Opinion
117 views

A conversation with Kathleen Stock on Transgender Identity

Jessica Hubbard - September 15, 2018

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy lecturer at Sussex University, met with controversy after criticising the government’s reform of the Gender Recognition Act (2004). The amendment would ‘de-medicalise’ the…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
406 views
Arts
406 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
408 views
Arts
408 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
378 views
Arts
378 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
441 views
Arts
441 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
453 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
402 views
Arts
402 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
375 views
Arts
375 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
570 views
Campus News
570 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
321 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
937 views
Arts
937 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
380 views
Arts
380 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…