Identiteit als expressie: Narrativiteit, lichamelijkheid en intersectionaliteit

Translated title of the contribution: Identity as Expression: Narrativity, embodiment, and Intersectionality

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Identity as expression: Narrativity, embodiment, and intersectionality
How to understand intersectional aspects of personal identity such as gender, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and (dis)ability? In this paper, I argue that it requires a notion of personal identity as expression to do so. Most philosophical theories of personal identity do not take into account social, embodied factors such as the ones named above. In order to consider these, I suggest to start from philosophical accounts of narrative identity, notably Schechtman’s and Ricoeur’s. Instead of taking narrative identity to be exhaustive, I propose to understand it as the expressed aspect of personal identity. Identity as expression does not only pertain to linguistic utterances, but also to the body. In the paper, I derive a notion of the body as ontological ground for sociality from Ricoeur’s philosophy, which includes that our body primordially is body among other bodies and makes us part of a community. Ricoeur still thinks embodiment in a general sense, however, and does not reflect upon its being gendered, being assigned a race or ethnicity, etc.. In the final part of the paper, I suggest to turn to Sartre’s philosophy of the body, because he considers this social dimension of embodiment. His notion ‘unrealizables’ offers interesting opportunities to incorporate the view of others upon us into our self-conception. Intersectional aspects of personal identity such as gender, race, etc. consequently should be seen as factors that we do not experience in the first person, but that form the limits of who we are assigned to by others, that we cannot avoid taking a position towards.
Translated title of the contributionIdentity as Expression: Narrativity, embodiment, and Intersectionality
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)335-355
Number of pages21
JournalAlgemeen Nederlands tijdschrift voor wijsbegeerte
Issue number3
Early online date1 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • narrative identity, body, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, age,


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