Amartya Sen has written a book titled Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny where he writes about the concept of identity and how given and labelled identities result in misunderstanding, prejudice and even violence. The risk of identity labels is that it makes us into “us” and “The Other”, and stops us from recognizing the complex identities of humans and the ability to choose to find solutions on tasks we stand in front of.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) wrote in De Profundis (1897):
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” Oscar Wilde wrote De Profundis (From the Depths) from January to March 1897, when he was imprisoned in Reading Goal, to Lord Alfred Douglas, who received the letter on the same day as Wilde was released from prison, the 18th of May 1897.
watch Amartya Sen on Identity (2008):
A rag-rug in Swedish tradition, is a carpet you weave of old clothes and fabric from your own home. It is a way of re-using torn out clothes and telling the stories of the past.
The idea of this activity is that you work out examples from your life, showing from where you come, what has been important in your life – let us give you the example.
The drawing below is of an imagined carpet, rag-rug. It is constructed by birth dates of three families. Each date is telling about the family members life and deeds. For instance 12-7-2013 is the grand mother of 18-9-1986 and she told her grand child about the mountains of the north, from where she came to the low land on the east coast. A big change for her.
12 - 7 - 1913
10 - 8 - 1915
3 - 6 - 1948
22 - 9 - 1951
24 - 5 - 1965
12 - 11 - 1989
18 - 9 - 1986
8 - 10 - 1951
8 - 11 - 2013
3 - 6 - 2007
Make your own rag-rug
The central idea of the activity is to work with the concept of identity and how this can be recognised.
How is our identity constructed?
The example above was taking down birthdays of family members.
You can choose for instance songs you like, from childhood and forward, places you have visited, people of importance you have met, books you have read, films you have seen, food you like and so on.
Rag-rugs tell our lives, repeatedly and differently.
Choose one topic and create your rag-rugs on paper or digitally below.
Present and talk about your rag-rugs in the group.