Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Alternative Identities, Possible Futures: Finding Global Place Beyond Nation

Joy Hendry, Eric Ma, Keith Jamieson, Gordon Mathews, Bruce White.

The nation state is perceived by many as being the world’s dominant collective identity. However, within and across so-called nations themselves are many millions of people who hold very different ideas about themselves in the world and identify and express their collectives in alternative ways; these include indigenous and minority groups, economic migrants, immigrants,
and self-proclaimed ‘global citizens’. This panel asks how these groups of people are finding a sense of global place and identity beyond the nation state. Do some of these groups share a global or transnational discourse that helps them form and maintain their identity? How do these ‘alternative’ groups interact with and utilise national narratives and identities that they may exist within? It is in asking these kinds of questions that the presenters hope to reveal some
complex globally-reaching contrasts and parallels within and between non-national identities, and attempt to understand the scale of their growth and influence.

Using an anthropological approach and global sample, the session sees that in an increasingly complex and contested world, national identities could slowly be becoming just one option amongst many other ‘alternatives’. Examining the social worlds of Chinese rural migrants; the experiences of Iroquois ‘cultural brokers’; the worldviews of Britain-based Indian, African and West Indian immigrants; the identities of Hong Kong residents; and the shared discourses of a variety of First Peoples in a number of globally scattered locations, the session illustrates how, across a diverse range of peoples and locations, alternative identities are challenging dominant national understandings of history, place, and racial and cultural homogeneity.

Lastly, as well as posing the question as to what impact these identities will have on the future of collective identity and global culture, the session suggests some new approaches to the study, definition, and theorising of transnationalism in the light of its findings.


Joy Hendry  (United Kingdom)

Eric Ma  (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China)

Keith Jamieson  (Canada)

Gordon Mathews  (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China)

Bruce White  (United Kingdom)

Organisation for Intra-Cultural Development

  • Global Culture
  • Ethnicity
  • Identity
  • First Peoples
  • Immigrants
  • Nation
  • Transnationalism
  • Anthropology
  • Futures

(90 min. Colloquium, English)