This unit (ASS2009) of study draws on recent social and cultural theory addressing questions of identity and difference to explore the historical production of contemporary identities. It seeks to juxtapose the notion that identity is unstable and historically conferred with those discourses that speak of identity as unitary and stable over time. The unit of study looks to the newly visible categories of 'women, 'migrant', 'gay' and 'black', and to slightly older categories like 'the homosexual', 'the delinquent', 'the Aborigine' to question more familiar narratives of identity formation and to explore the implications of those moves for understanding connections between identity formation and governmental activity.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Develop a critical awareness of the contingency of identity;  
  2. Deconstruct essentialist thought;  
  3. Apply a broad-based knowledge of the different core issues in processes of identity formation across cultures and history; and  
  4. Critically reflect on contemporary theories of personhood and categories of person.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Literature Review Review of readings 25%
Essay Write an academic essay based on questions on essential readings. Students select one question. 50%
Exercise Respond to four questions. Each question is based on an essential reading prescribed for the week. 25%

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