Identity And Relational Identity

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While much of the contemporary debate over identity is based on the problem of identity over time, there remains to be resolved the issue of what even constitutes identity and how that manifests itself in every individual. For this problem, it is necessary to consider how individual philosophers conceptualize identity, and one fruitful example is the concept of relational identity. In this concept, the individual identity is considered in how it relates to other individuals and the rest of their environment, so while several Francophone philosophers consider in depth the interpersonal connections and cultural phenomena that create relational identity, the issue of environment remains. Edouard Glissant and Barbara Cassin are two such philosophers…show more content…
Glissant begins his book with the section entitled The Open Boat, which explores the profound effect that the Middle Passage had on the African slaves brought to the Caribbean. While noting the many injustices African slaves faced on these ships, Glissant illustrates how this experience formed a collective between the slaves, something that could not be replicated under any other circumstance. In the three abysses Glissant presents, there are moves to create a process of understanding unseen in the world; first through the abyss of the ship, then the abyss of the depths of the sea, and lastly the abyss of the expanse of the sea. All of these abysses seek to destabilize the identity of individuals and form a strong collective sense of interconnectedness. Glissant continues the Caribbean exposition in a later section titled Closed Place, Open Word, which examines the plantation system as “one of the focal points for the development of present-day modes of Relation” (Glissant 65). By exploring the means of European domination and resistance to it, particularly through literary production and cross-cultural interaction, Glissant’s relational identity further establishes itself within the Caribbean context. Lastly in two sections entitled The Black Beach and The Burning…show more content…
In examining relational identity through European epics and experiences, Cassin does not challenge the problems of rootedness within each of these. While Odysseus wanders the Mediterranean, the rooted sense of home and of Penelope is not challenged except to say they may have changed over time, which leads away from considering identity as relational. Indeed, the rootedness of Odysseus’ surroundings puts into question the nature of his relational identity if the other powers about him are not in motion as he is and where “the sea of wanderings yields to the earth where the bed is rooted” (Cassin 23). In this manner, the problem of rooted identity is just barely circumvented in Odysseus but falls prey to a static environment. The same can be said of Aeneas and Arendt, that while the political and physical space around them is no longer fixed, the language is rooted in its particularities. The linguistic matrimony of Aeneas’ people to the people of Latium, neither in Virgil’s original or in Cassin’s interpretation, demonstrate the relational aspects of language and assume their fixed nature. Indeed “Language itself is what is a stake: Faciam uno ore Latinos: ‘[I shall] make them all Latins with one language’ (XII, 837), through a single language” (Cassin 37), and in considering

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