S-Space Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies (규장각한국학연구원) Korean Culture (한국문화) Korean Culture (한국문화) vol.41 (2008)
국민/민족 상상과 시민권의 차질, 차질로서의 자기정체성
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 규장각한국학연구원
- 한국문화, Vol.41, pp. 85-112
- The correct question to identify oneself may be ""who are you?" rather than ""what are you?" We probably have no other choice but to answer "I am myself" to this question. But, "myself" in this context can be seen as the intersection of various "we", to which I belong including race, nation, ethnicity, and gender. If so, it is not surprising that we come to say "I hate who I am." Today, although the term "identity" is used in many different and confusing contexts, it is ultimately the question of identifying an individual who is distinguished from other people, defined as its uniqueness and permanence. "Collective identity" may be defined as the perception of an individual - the imagination that one safely and obligatorily belongs to a group - rather than a kind of collective representation. It may also be defined a collective dimension of each individual"s distinctive identity.
The collective identity, which is conspicuously observed in the modern history of East Asia, appears in the form of the national identity. Nationalism requires its members to assume one body with many parts, and thus, require them to die and to kill each other for the sake of the nation. As an imagined community, a nation does not have either clear extension or boundary, and thus is assumed to be an unbound seriality which consists of voluntary will of each individual. The reality, however, is the reverse. In fact, what decides who can be the member of a nation is not up to the passionate will of an individual. On the contrary, the citizenship is given to an individual as the right with which one is endowed at the time of birth, and its verification and confirmation is available through official identification, such as standardized registration or documentation, ID card, and passport. All of these are the instrument of governmentality of modern bureaucratic state.
Of course, we can say that my identity precedes my ID card or passport, Moreover, I would feel a strong temptation to escape from the identification process the very instant my identity is verified with those records. In the same way, thus, we can say my identity does not reside in the imagination of the nation, but in breaking the metaphor. If one"s identity can be defined as the struggle to escape from the procedure of identifying oneself, the identity exists only in the discordance between nation-imagination and citizenship.