Skelly, James M.

The Sarcophagus of Identity

Tribalism, Nationalism, and the Transcendence of the Self

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Given the increasing centrality of identity to contemporary politics, James Skelly’s book provides a critical and useful analysis of the dominant and problematic conceptual bases for self and identity.   Inspired in part by his lawsuit against the US Secretary of Defense while serving as an active duty military officer, Skelly argues that our use of language in the construction of identities is unwitting, unreflective, and has engendered horrific consequences for tens of millions of humans.  In contrast, he demonstrates our need to overcome sectarian modes of thinking and to engage in much deeper forms of solidarity with others by foregrounding a species identity.
This book offers not only an academic reflection on the concept of identity but one that delves into the nature of the self and identity by drawing on Skelly's concrete experience of attempting to present a self-identity opposed to war in the face of the political, psychological, religious, and legal arguments put forth in a year-long legal battle with the United States government. One consequence is that Skelly argues that to create a new and more pacific human sensibility we must help ourselves and others to gain sovereignty over our social worlds and the definition of 'who we are,' by arming individuals with the tools necessary to overcome the definitions and categorizations we are subjected to in the construction of traditional notions of 'identity.'

Der Autor:
James Skelly is the founding director of the Centre on Critical Thinking, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies Köszeg, in Hungary. He served as Director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Pennsylvania, and has held teaching and research posts at the University of California, San Diego, the European Peace University in Austria, Universitat Jaume I in Spain, and the Universities of Limerick and Ulster in Ireland.  He holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Minnesota, and an MA and PhD in Sociology from UC San Diego. 
As a young U.S. military officer, his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War led to his federal lawsuit, Skelly v. Laird.  Following his honorable discharge, he worked with Jane Fonda, and other entertainers, as the advance man and political coordinator for the "Free the Army" show. Prior to returning to academia, he also worked as a bartender in San Francisco, a dock worker in Boston, and subsequently as a staff member in the United State Senate.

316 Seiten, Paperback. 2017
ISBN 978-3-8382-0988-3

Stimmen zum Buch:

“This is a rich and thoughtful assembly of reflections on the author's experiences as a questioning younger person and his reach into a remarkable array of relevant literature for answers. The trip Skelly takes us on is like sailing from one compelling island to another in an effort to find just the right place to anchor. The result is a wonderful journey into the meaning of words, the meaning of life, and the meaning of meaning. A rare and special gathering of sanity.”
Kai Erikson, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Sociology and American Studies, Yale University

“When a book is about the dangers of imposing 'identity', it may seem perverse to say its author, true to his Irish roots, is a born story-teller. But he is, and it’s why Jim Skelly’s book is such a treat. Between the well-informed academic passages, it throbs with the heart-breaking stories of real lives—not least the remarkable story of Skelly’s own escape from the prison of military service.“
Nicholas Humphrey, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, London School of Economics

“In this book, Jim Skelly illuminates the inherently perilous nature of identity, especially national identities. Drawing on his own research and personal experiences, including his lawsuit against the U.S. Secretary of Defense, he makes a compelling case for resisting the identities that other individuals and institutions try to impose upon us—an insight that has particular relevance in an age of ever increasing surveillance by governments and corporations.“
Daniel Ellsberg, activist and former military analyst


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