Research & Studies

James M. Skelly: The Sarcophagus of Identity

James M. Skelly: The Sarcophagus of Identity : Tribalism, Nationalism, and the Transcendence of the Self

Given the increasing centrality of identity to contemporary politics, James Skelly’s book provides a critical and useful analysis of the dominant and problematic conceptual bases for self and identity. Inspired in part by his lawsuit against the U.S. Secretary of Defense while serving as an active duty military officer, Skelly argues that our use of language in the construction of identities is unwitting, unreflective, and has engendered horrific consequences for tens of millions of humans. In contrast, he demonstrates our need to overcome sectarian modes of thinking and to engage in much deeper forms of solidarity with others by foregrounding a species identity.

This book offers not only an academic reflection on the concept of identity but one that delves into the nature of the self and identity by drawing on Skelly’s concrete experience of attempting to present a self-identity opposed to war in the face of the political, psychological, religious, and legal arguments put forth in a year-long legal battle with the United States government. Skelly argues that to create a new and more pacific human sensibility we must help ourselves and others to gain sovereignty over our social worlds and the definition of “who we are” by arming individuals with the tools necessary to overcome the definitions and categorizations we are subjected to in the construction of traditional notions of identity. (Source)

“In this book, Jim Skelly illuminates the inherently perilous nature of identity, especially national identities. Drawing on his own research and personal experiences, including his lawsuit against the U.S. Secretary of Defense, he makes a compelling case for resisting the identites that other individuals and institutions try to impose upon us – an insight that has particular relevance in an age of ever increasing surveillance by governments and corporations”
Daniel Elsberg, activists and former military analyst

Published by ibidem
315 pages

This book is available here.