In the article “ Is identity a useful cross-cultural concept?”, the author Richard Handler holds the view that the conception of identity is not useful as a scholarly branch and also thinks that support without criticism will lead identity claims to aid the reproduction of an ideology that is both hegemonic and oppressive. He also suggests that identity is not a useful concept when dealing with the cross-cultural issues. He bases his thoughts on the idea that identity is a modern, western concept and that it is not a useful tool when studying other cultures and time periods, and also because identity is something that can be created by authorities for political purposes.
We do not agree with Handler in the aspect that it’s pointless to conduct studies on identity; we think that nowadays the concept of identity still plays a vital role when dealing with the cross-cultural issues. As globalization deepens, people from different cultures are increasingly and frequently exchanging communication and identity construction and identity become increasingly prominent. How are we to deal with cross-cultural communication and cross-cultural identity? In the process of integration, can the mainstream culture be equivalent with minority cultures? Is the multiculturalism possible in Europe? Is it possible to create a European identity that does not harm the cultural diversity? How can the immigrants be integrated by heart in the European society, not to mention how to integrate the other candidate countries?
With the enlargement of the European Union that is expanding towards countries that do not base their identity on the same experience of history, culture and religiosity and with the immigrants that have settled in the countries within the European Union, it would be impossible to force everyone to adapt to one homogenous identity based on political views, culture and religion. The solution according to us would therefore be to merely seek to find a political unity, by trying to pose an offer to the “non-Europeans” by giving them the opportunity to accept some common political values like democracy, free speech, human rights, and so on. To strengthen citizenship is the first step to create a sense of identity, to allow cultural diversity of all members of society and political integration of identity. By adapting to these values, they can still keep their culture and religion and be European in that sense that they will strive after the same goals as the rest of Europe does, and that they will want to protect their political values, because it benefits them. It should be a voluntary act coming from a bottom-up movement and not be forced on the immigrants from a top-down movement. And there should be an attraction in the European citizenship, which will create a want and a need from the not already integrated, to want to become integrated.
Our conclusion is therefore that the concept of identity today is important, but that we should only strive to create a common political identity, and let the many different cultural identities stay on a personal and private sphere. This way we can find a unity, but still not harm the multiculturalism.
Fatemeh, Marija and Jing