Review of "Fracturing resemblances: identity and mimetic conflict in Melanesia and the West" by Simon Harrison, Berghahn Books, New York and Oxford.

Otto, Ton (2008) Review of "Fracturing resemblances: identity and mimetic conflict in Melanesia and the West" by Simon Harrison, Berghahn Books, New York and Oxford. Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 9 (4). pp. 374-377.

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Abstract

[Extract] This challenging and thought-provoking book addresses an important topic within contemporary anthropological debate, which potentially has great relevance for social policy issues. The key question concerns the nature of social identity, in particular the kind of identity that the author terms 'proprietary', which refers to the condition that the outward symbols or markers of an identity are considered as property. This central question is placed within a wider debate on the nature of the social order. Here, the author claims that there are two contrasting perspectives in Western thought. The first and dominant perspective, exemplified by Durkheim, assumes that order is conditioned by the sharing of a common understanding within a population. In contrast, the second perspective sees difference as the basis for order and the absence of difference as an important cause for conflict. It is this second line of thought, represented by authors such as Simmel, Freud, Girard and Blok, that Harrison wants to develop in his book, with a focus on processes of identity formation and maintenance. His central thesis is that collective identities, for example ethnic and national, do not arise from relationships of difference, but are rather the result of the denial or suppression of resemblance.

Item ID: 16677
Item Type: Article (Book Review)
ISSN: 1740-9314
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2011 05:28
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950306 Conserving Pacific Peoples Heritage @ 100%
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