Identity: A “sticky spell”

Workshop and lecture on identity research in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence

“Is there enough identity for everyone?” is the question Professor Valentin Groebner, history lecturer at the University of Lucerne, will be tackling in his lecture at the University of Konstanz on 5 November 2015. His talk at 18:00 in Room Y 311 marks the start of a workshop dealing with “Identity - A black box”.

Historian Groebner calls identity a “sticky spell”: “Identity is evidently something we have, but can also lose. And can seek endlessly. Something which is highly personal and at the same time a national collective good. Which is endangered by outsiders, but constantly changing.” That’s why he doesn’t interpret identity as a fixed and abstract concept but instead a kind of workplace. Accordingly, his question is not “What it identity?” but instead “When and where is identity?”

His lecture “Is there enough identity for everyone? My face and our miracle - A historical perspective” will dedicate itself to a special manifestation of identity: Using historical portraits and modern photographs he draws conclusions about how the identity of the individual became part of the group during different epochs. This usually happens, says Groebner, in relation to a joint past: When “we” still looked like “I” was supposed to become in the future.

Identity as a constantly modifiable result of identification and group processes challenges research with regard to its methodologies too. When, for example, does someone regard a specific action to be relevant for his or her own identity? In which situations do we experience group affiliation as a determining factor for our own identity?

The workshop “Identity - A black box. Beyond the boundaries of constructivist explanatory models” uses concrete examples to grasp this elusive phenomenon: Ethnic identities in the everyday life of minorities, negotiating identity in an advisory role and identity as an experience. Doctoral candidates in the Ph.D. programme “Europe in the Globalized World” are organizing the workshop from 5 to 6 November 2015 in the Freiräume Konstanz (Vor der Halde 5, Konstanz). The events are sponsored by the Cluster of Excellence “Cultural Principles of Integration”, to which the Ph.D. programme belongs.

The keynote lecture “Is there enough identity for everyone? My face and our miracle - A historical perspective” by Professor Valentin Groebner is open to everyone with an interest in the topic. To take part in the workshop please register (email: