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In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  8,863 ratings  ·  1,111 reviews
I want to try and understand why so many people commit crimes in the name of identity," writes Amin Maalouf. Identity is the crucible out of which we come: our background, our race, our gender, our tribal affiliations, our religion (or lack thereof), all go into making up who we are. All too often, however, the notion of identity--personal, religious, ethnic, or national-- ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 25th 2003 by Penguin Group (first published October 28th 1998)
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Abeer Mustafa Haridi الكتاب ليس برواية انما هو مجموعة مقالات مرتبطة ببعضها البعض او يمكن اعتبارها مقال ممتد . انصح بقرائته حيث يتناول الكتاب مفهوم الهوية وكيف يتوجه الاشخا…moreالكتاب ليس برواية انما هو مجموعة مقالات مرتبطة ببعضها البعض او يمكن اعتبارها مقال ممتد . انصح بقرائته حيث يتناول الكتاب مفهوم الهوية وكيف يتوجه الاشخاص بالعادة ونتيجة ضغوط وعوامل
الى اختزال الهوية بصفة واحدة واسقاط مجموع الصفات الاخرى التي تشكل هوية الفرد (less)

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Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody, particularly those walking in the opposite direction
The recent political upheaval in my country where a referendum for the independence of Catalonia is to be celebrated presumably in November almost in parallel to the Scottish one prompted me to unbury my copy of this essay which I read many years ago and whose direct prose has often been misjudged as overly simplistic.
Born in Lebanon within a family of Arabic tradition but of Christian faith, forced to exile from his natal land to France in the 70s, the journalist, essayist and writer of histor
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
I return to this essay almost every year!

And in 2016, Maalouf's reflections on the link between identity, violence, and the desperate need to define belonging by exclusive participation in a specific group seem more urgently needed than ever.

While reading The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, another one of his masterpieces on changing perspectives to gain understanding of historical processes, I go back to "In the Name of Identity" to check my thoughts.

It is a universally valid account of the diffe
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-politics
A thoughtful exposition on the clash engendered by modern ideas of nationhood between a person's many identities and allegiances. He argues for a new approach that doesn't box people into exclusive, singular identity based either on nationality, or ethnicity, or language, which, according to him, is the main source of so much violence of the last century.

The argument is that in the age of globalisation it is no longer tenable to have homogeneous countries with single or dominant ethnicity, lang
Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Oh, wow. I was not expecting to find this book, more than 10 years after its publication (and references to events current at the time), still so unbelievably relevant and meaningful today. But I think this is required reading for anyone today. ANYONE. When you look at the world as it is today, and all the controversy over Islam and the Middle East conflicts, it's hard to understand where it all came from, and this book breaks it down, and theorizes that it all has to do with the question of one ...more
Imane إيمان بلال
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
"When an author reaches the last page of a book his fondest wish is usually that his work should still be read 100 or 200 years hence. You never can tell. Some books intended to be immortal expire immediately, while another, regarded as a schoolboy diversion, survives. But hope springs eternal.

For this book, neither a literary work nor a diversion, I make a different wish. May my grandson, growing up and finding it one day by chance on the family bookshelves, look through the pages, read a passa
Nov 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: school
not only do I disagree with half of the things written here, but the arguments and explanations for the ideas Maalouf is trying to present are so poorly assembled that the only thing I know for certain after reading this is that it is extremely contradictory and therefore not a vibe on multiple levels.

admittedly, I can stand behind Maalouf's statements during the first section in which he explains that identity is complex and results from various allegiances based on our personal experiences or
Andrea Hickman Walker
This is an absolutely fascinating topic, that I've never really thought much about. I am me. Yes I'm South African, female, an Aspie, arthritic, a librarian, an archaeologist, a wife, a roleplayer, and so on. But to me, I'm just me. And other people are just them (though, given the whole Aspie thing, sometimes they're just inanimate objects). I think, in fact, that it's the Aspie thing that prevents me from seeing identities as so fundamental - I cannot conceive of a person as just a Buddhist. T ...more
Tarek Amr
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-away
I liked the book that I decided to give it away to the next one setting beside me on the aeroplane as soon as I finished reading it.
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Should be read by as many people as possible: at schools, by politicians... It may help solve the disaster we are creating by thinking that identities are exclusive instead of additive.
Ahmed Fathy
Sep 27, 2020 rated it liked it
“What makes me myself rather than anyone else is the very fact that I am poised between two countries, two or three languages and several cultural traditions. It is precisely this that defines my identity. Would I exist more authentically if I cut off a part of myself.”

Amin Maalouf shares a very interesting reflection on the deadly effects that identity can trigger when its meaning is oversimplified. Having been asked many times “Do you identify more with France or Lebanon?”, the author advocate
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the thought-provoking and introductory books on identity and belonging. Maalouf explains how personal identity and allegiance can diversify and change based on time, place and other conditions by giving real-world examples. He also sheds some light on hierarchy and east-west dichotomy while providing profound ideas about how politics drag people to choose ‘sides’ based on their past and cause to classify people by interpreting the concept of identity differently.

Even I found some parts o
ReemK10 (Paper Pills)
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I did enjoy reading Amin Maalouf's digression which resonated greatly with me. There are so many of us who simply don't feel at home anywhere, and that is why we need our books.We live in a world that needs to be more accepting of others and a whole lot kinder. We need to sit at dinner tables with friends from different countries around the world and share our stories.
This is truly a very compelling read, and one that is very necessary.
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this more than I did but it seemed to incarnate such a liberal view of the world... and cemented my understanding of liberalism = racism :) If given the opportunity I would write a longer piece critiquing Maalouf's argument lmao, I am missing reading responses for the first time ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One interesting trial from Amin. It is not like Amin’s others book as we know him with his famous novels. But anyhow the book is good.
I can't help but hope that this would become required reading for High School students around the world.

Maalouf, with extreme simple yet well-selected language, deconstructs well established notions of nationality and identity that prevails today - the idea that people are attached to a certain, and single, nationality or national identity. He questions it, argues against it, and eventually arrives at the conclusion that it is not only absurd, but an extreme pity that people should limit themsel
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is impressing , it has these shocking facts that i think i'll Reread the book in the future just to renew the facts in my mind so i never forget about them ...more
Apr 06, 2020 is currently reading it
"What's happening [Covid19 pandemics] is terrifying but it is also fascinating"
In interview to Portuguese paper "i"*.


ālif/ In 1976, Amin Maalouf left Lebanon for France. He was asked, oftentimes,"do you feel more French or Lebanese?". He would reply, "both". Identity cannot be compartmentalized. Arabic is his mother tongue. He read Gulliver's travels and Dumas in Arabic. He spent 22 years in France, though.

bā̛/ About belongings, Maalouf says the situation is more complicated on the other si
Katia N
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book has been written almost 20 years ago. In these 20 years it did not lose any urgency. Is 20 years such a short term for the civilisation or does the author touch upon the eternal issue? I do not know… But I found this little book very thought provoking . I’ve highlighted probably the half of it. So it was difficult to choose what to mention here…

Mr Maalouf’s language is lucid, the ideas are profound, even if some of them might seem simple. I think, this is because they are very well ar
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
What a special book. As someone whose family and experience is threaded in many cultures and languages I have thoroughly enjoyed and rejoiced in this book. It has given me deeper understanding and interior strength to accept all my identities as my own. Thank you for that.

But even if you identify with only one culture or background this is a great doorway into this other reality and maybe a more nuanced approach to all our identities.

I wish there would be an edition after Brexit, Trump, Bolsona
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My rating: 3.5

While I do not agree with everything Maalouf says in his very thought-provoking book, I do feel he raises many interesting points about identity, particularly the migrant, or emigrant or expatriate (choose your favorite term) identity. This is a great discussion book, ideal for book groups. My local book group read this in December 2018 and we literally could not stop talking about it.

I particularly enjoyed Maalouf’s discussion of language and identity in Chapter 4 and this is one
William Burr
This is a charming little book, which I’m glad to have read because it injected some new ideas into my brain. That said, the second half is a little pedantic and I pushed myself to read on through.

Amin Maalouf sets out with a question - why does it always bother him so much, when people insist that he decide whether he feels more French or Lebanese? The native of Lebanon has lived in France for many years now, and he writes in French. For him, the urge to favorise one identity over another is a
Dimitris Hall
Let me tell you that reading this book made me proud and happy that my wife and I decided to name our cat after the author and his nephew Ibrahim made famous for his music. Predictably, having read In the Name of Identity a few years after our furry friend entered our lives, I think part of the reason I'm rating this book so highly is the fact that my cat's name is on the cover. *sigh* I guess I'm shallow.

I first heard of this book when my cousin Karina, at a passing comment of mine that she is
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely made me think about the way we construct our identities, and the problems that arise when identities are constructed in conflict with other identities. The text focuses a lot on the idea of making sure groups can feel included in the globalization of the world, because if they don't, “any human community that feels humiliated or fears for its existence will tend to produce killers. And these killers will commit the most dreadful atrocities in the belief that they are right to do so an ...more
Perduto boy
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
this book gave me a wider perspective of the-what-so-called-identity. maalouf gave a clear description by being the example of his idea on identity topic.

i really like how he arranged his opinion about the complexity of identity by describing it as a reporter, not directly as a victim. this writing techniques, i suppose, allowed him to dramatized and at the same time gave an objective judgement on identity issue.

according to him, identity is a not one given "situation" where man can not escape o
Cyrus Carter
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On Identity is an excellent primer on acceptance of the diversity that lies within ourselves, our family and those around us. For those of us who have grown up in the midst of cultural, gender, sexual and other diversity, the book acts as a reminder to remain mindful of it within current circumstances. For those having grown up in a more monochromatic atmosphere, the book highlights points necessary to become more enlightened. For us all, it acts to remind us that there is the other within self.
4.5 stars. I believe a must-read for everyone, helping to sort out the questions of identity, diversity and the processes happening in the world (both when the book was written and now). I may not agree 100% with the passages about USA but when the author writes about Middle East and Europe you can only nod. A very thought-provoking and intelligent book.
Bassel Alhaffar
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's my first novel in my journey and first time to read for Maalouf.
Very interesting novel, which explains our current behaviours with regards to our identities. Identities such as nationalism, religious, and other , which were discussed in an extended way tackling different cases and how it was developed through time.
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great on how fluid history is - and how Islam has more history of tolerance than Christianity does.
But ways forward seem too idealistic to me.
And to ignore economic, social and educational inequalities.
Cornelia Baciu
Good and brief analysis. Read the french version, i must say it lacks structure and clarity through out. Mix of ideas that flow in a peculiar way but it is less biased than other books of the same genre.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On Identity is a book that challenges the mind and the heart of its reader. You cannot but go with the flow of Maalouf’s brilliant questions that open a new horizon of an undiscovered world of identity. It dwells deep down to the original question who am I and where do I belong? Can identity be only one to each person, or can there be multiple identities that a person could identify himself or herself to? Am I Lebanese or Muslim, Christian? Am I Lebanese, French or both? Am I African, American o ...more
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Amin Maalouf (Arabic: أمين معلوف; alternate spelling Amin Maluf) is a Lebanese journalist and novelist. He writes and publishes primarily in French.

Most of Maalouf's books have a historical setting, and like Umberto Eco, Orhan Pamuk, and Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Maalouf mixes fascinating historical facts with fantasy and philosophical ideas. In an interview Maalouf has said that his role as a writer

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