chapter
12 Pages

Introduction

The title of this book comes as no surprise as it is common sense now that heritage has everything to do with identity. This is a rather straightforward relationship and there seems to be no question about it. The problem arises when trying to understand what identity is. The chapters included in this volume make it rather clear that identity is an elusive concept. It comprises identification as it is something that aggregates people, no matter how different their individual selves may be. But identity is not just about inclusion. It is also about exclusion. In order to identify with some, people also need do dis-identify with someone else. This makes a point to Bateson’s words when he insightfully stated that ‘it takes at least two somethings to create a difference’ (1978: 78). Therefore, identity is not just identification: it is also the meaning ascribed to similarity and difference. In this sense, identity also comes close to – and is often confused with – culture. However, identity and culture are not synonyms as identity also entails action: the action of making and being part of.