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Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen, Volume 2Society, Institutions, and Development$
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Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239979

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239979.001.0001

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Identity, Violence and the Power of Illusion

Identity, Violence and the Power of Illusion

Chapter:
(p.436) Chapter 23 Identity, Violence and the Power of Illusion
Source:
Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen, Volume 2
Author(s):

Jonathan Glover (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239979.003.0024

This chapter is an attempt to develop Sen's discussion of how illusions about identity contribute to violent conflict. The importance of nationality and religion in people's sense of their identity is linked to deep psychological needs. The role of identity in violence is linked to group narratives, especially about humiliation and defeat. In terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and in the response to them, the cycle of violence is maintained by the backlash against perceived humiliation, together with illusions about collective responsibility. A case is made for an Enlightenment idea of international order as the way to escape from these cycles of violence.

Keywords:   identity, violence, illusions, humiliation, backlash, Enlightenment

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