How do we understand the political choices citizens make? Why do Black and White Americans disagree so vehemently in their reactions to racially- charged incidents like officer-involved shootings? What explains disagreements over policies like welfare and immigration? How do we understand ethnic conflict, both in the United States and around the world? What explains our commitments to salient social groups? Under what conditions should we expect group members to join in solidarity with one another? When does solidarity break down? And what helps us make sense of this strange time we find ourselves in? Identity does that—or at least it does a lot of it.
But what is an identity? What are the conditions under which identities become politicized? How do identities work to structure attitudes and affect behavior? Over the course of the quarter, we will read a series of scholarly papers from across academic disciplines that provide some answers to these important questions. By the end of our time together, I hope to convince you that all politics is identity politics, and that identity—in all of its complexity—is a thing worth thinking rigorously about