chapter
identity
Pages 15

Anthropological uses of ‘identity’ are ambiguous. In one sense, the term refers to properties of uniqueness and individuality, the essential differences making a *person distinct from all others, as in ‘self-identity’. In another sense, it refers to qualities of sameness, in that persons may associate themselves, or be associated by others, with groups or categories on the basis of some salient common feature, e.g. ‘ethnic identity’. The term may also be applied to groups, categories, segments and institutions of all kinds, as well as to individual persons; thus families, communities, classes and nations are frequently said to have identities.