Why plumage matters

This book presents the rich fabric of language, clothing, food, and architecture which forms the diverse religious, political, cultural and ethnic identities of humanity. The colour of a scarf, the accent of a conversation, can unite people or divide them, and the smallest detail can play its part in signalling who are allies and who are enemies, as much for elites as for citizens in a democracy. Human identity is neither rigidly determined nor unpredictable and spontaneous, but between those two extremes is the forum on which the public life of humanity is generated. After a century in which an assumption was held across the ideological spectrum from left to right and from Marxists to economic individualists that the rational pursuit of material gain underlay social and political activity, the fundamental importance of the cultivation and preservation of identity is re-emerging across the whole spectrum of politics in which Britain is one example only. Yet while identity is the dimension in which public life is conducted, it is inherently paradoxical: on the one hand people cultivate their identity by association with a group, or religion, or nation, whilst on the other hand they distinguish themselves from their associates within those groups by presenting an intensified or purer form of the qualities which otherwise unite them. So identity simultaneously generates equality and inequality, between identification by association, and identity by exclusion and differentiation; it is both the engine of public life, and the cause of its confusion and conflict.

This Open Access edition was funded by London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Race, class and school choice

All in the mix: class, race and school choice considers how parents choose secondary schools for their children and makes an important intervention into debates on school choice and education. The book examines how parents talk about race, religion and class – in the process of choosing. It also explores how parents’ own racialised and classed positions, as well as their experience of education, can shape the way they approach choosing schools. Based on in-depth interviews with parents from different classed and racialised backgrounds in three areas in and around Manchester, the book shows how discussions about school choice are shaped by the places in which the choices are made. It argues that careful consideration of choosing schools opens up a moment to explore the ways in which people imagine themselves, their children and others in social, relational space.

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Curation and exhibition in the aftermath of genocide and mass-violence

This book addresses the practices, treatment and commemoration of victims’ remains in post- genocide and mass violence contexts. Whether reburied, concealed, stored, abandoned or publically displayed, human remains raise a vast number of questions regarding their legal, ethical and social uses.

Human Remains in Society will raise these issues by examining when, how and why bodies are hidden or exhibited. Using case studies from multiple continents, each chapter will interrogate their effect on human remains, either desired or unintended, on various political, cultural or religious practices. How, for instance, do issues of confiscation, concealment or the destruction of bodies and body parts in mass crime impact on transitional processes, commemoration or judicial procedures?

, classical studies, linguistics, philosophy, religious studies and sociology to develop a collaborative multidisciplinary research programme that could set civilisation as the consummate plane of all social orders (Arnason et  al., 2005; Eisenstadt, 1986). For Eisenstadt, the gulf between the ontological conception of higher and lower orders of existence produces the conflicts of social life that become the dynamics of development and the basis for long-​term developmental paths. A sharp focus on transcendence and the world religions defines his approach to civilisations

in Debating civilisations

dual character. That Japan’s relational orientation is reaffirmed throughout its history is evident in major episodes of engagement with the outside world and reflection on its existing dynamic traditions. The formative period features in the three major perspectives. The three diverge, however, on how social change is conditioned by relations with the East Asian region. For Eisenstadt, Japan was an unusual de-​axialising civilisation (1996). In its digestion and relativisation of the world religions, Japan had a foundational moment in which a pattern of ontological

in Debating civilisations
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identity, and a narrowing, though not a vanishing, of the distances between various rungs in the social ladder and of the privileged and penalising differentiations of gender. If distinctions, exclusions, and privileges remained, they nonetheless increasingly, if unsteadily, did so within a common forum, rather than in a society rigidly even if not impermeably divided between the classes and the masses. At every stage, clothing, manners, speech, diet, and religion have been part of those identities. And so also are the accounts, claims, and challenges about these

in Cultivating political and public identity
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what they make, cultivate, and preserve. It is because what people do constitutes who they are, and is not reducible to some deeper or more ‘objective’ or material reality, that religion is again and again so prevalent. Associating who one is with a human society gives solidity and dimension, but associating who one is with a superhuman or metaphysical dimension gives something else again. Genuflexion is grasping the hand of infinity. But it is always human beings who do the grasping, and whether one sees religion as a human creation, or sees knowledge of the divine

in Cultivating political and public identity

the liberation of the Germans, Marx inverted this question: ‘Does the standpoint of political emancipation have the right to demand from the Jews the abolition of Judaism and from man the abolition of religion?’ 19 To Bauer's assertion that ‘the Christian state … cannot allow adherents of another particular religion … complete equality with its own social estates’, Marx observed that in France (partially) and North America (more fully) Jews, like Christians, are

in Antisemitism and the left
Anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiments

views coalesce into a vision of Islam as an ideology (as opposed to a religion) which is (ab)used politically and strategically in the interests of internal oppression (‘Islam rules by fear and oppression’) and external aggression (extremism and terrorism). This expression of hostility towards ‘Islam’, rather than ‘Muslims’ or any particular ethnic group, it is shown, is employed by activists to support claims that the movement is ‘not racist’. The second section of the chapter engages critically with such claims by considering specifically, and separately, hostility

in Loud and proud
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Association and distinction in politics and religion

3 Top people are different: association and distinction in politics and religion Association and distinction in the leadership of religion and politics In 1521 Martin Luther, appearing before the Diet of Worms, declared that he was bound ‘by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God's word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us.’ 1 It was a statement which illustrated the extreme contradictions involved in the

in Cultivating political and public identity