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Happy Mother's Day (and a question)

Somewhat unconsciouly, I've been saving up my bloggables lately. I think part of it is the residual myth that if I spend my words here, I'll be taking words away from the revision process. I know that that's not how it works, but doesn't mean I don't sometimes fall under the spell of the myth.

Anyways, I thought I'd emerge from my accidental exile to wish all mothers, both current and impending, a happy day. And to ask a question...

Last week, I met with one of the many whose dissertation committees I'm serving on, and we had a rollicking conversation about all sorts of things. One of the issues that came up was Burkean identification, and over the course of our conversation, we ended up at a place where it was less than useful to speak of identification as a general category.

So my question to you is this: are there writers out there who have done any sort of differentiation among identifications? For example, there's a difference between I took to calling lateral identification (the kind that you might share with a neighbor or a colleague, for example) and vertical identification (the kind where you attach to a larger entity, like a state or country).

At the root of my question is the conviction that there is a difference when identifications cross various scales. Or perhaps I want to say that there's a scalar quality to identification itself--I'm tempted to suggest that the more vertical (and no, I'm not really happy with this term) the identification, the more uncomplicated it needs to be, if I can say this without implying that complication is somehow superior to the alternative.

I'm 99% sure that I can't be the only person to have ever asked this question, but I'm even surer that I don't really know where to look to remove that final 1%. Any suggestions?


Hey, Thanks for this.

And I am kind of liking the vertical moniker, though. It implies uneven power relations, more so than lateral does. At least that is how I have been thinking about these issues.

I agree with Jen--the idea of "vertical" identification reminds me of how I tried to use identification to describe government attempts, beginning in the late 40s, to get Taiwanese people to identify with/as (Mainland) Chinese. Were you considering the "power relations" factor when you were talking about this?

In part I did. My main question, though, is whether there's someone else who's tried to distinguish formally amongst different types or scales of identification. I think power is one of the ways that those types would emerge, and might even be a necessary component...it'd be tough to account for them without it, certainly...


One question before the source suggestion: is religious identification "vertical" or "lateral" in your sense?

I'm not sure of the disciplines you're interested in or how directly you want it to be spoken of--"identification," for instance. The suggestion below may fall into the category of "seek and ye shall find." But the book below, by Rachel Buff, compares Pow-wow in Minneaplois and West Indian Carnival in Brooklyn, NY. She is very interested in the ways national and cultural identities and memory are created through the public acts of pow-wow and carnival in two communities with complex lines of identification, local, national, international.

Immigration and the Political Economy of Home: West Indian Brooklyn and American Indian Minneapolis, 1945-1992

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