A group of postgraduates from the Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Southampton (which includes the School of Humanities) has established a network for research into the Construction of Identity as it relates to our various disciplines. I have been involved in the early stages of this group and we have set up a community weblog on the academically based ‘elgg.net‘ site. As a group we aim to compare our various experiences of understanding how identities are constructed and what problems we have in common when trying examine issues of identity in our fields of study. The community weblog will be on trial during the month of June and then formally launched to the world. The second most immediate aim is to compile a cross-disciplinary bibliography of titles we have used in our various fields and make this available via our community weblog. There has already been significant interest in this network from academics and postgraduates from within and outside the faculty. Please add a comment below if you are interested in find out more.
I have introduced some of the issues concerning identity I face in my research on my profile on elgg.net. I am particularly interested in seeing if I can ascertain any parameters for socio-cultural identities in southern Italy with the evidence provided by objects (documented and extant). Are there any patterns following political or regional lines or those of like legal traditions? (How) did these change with the new Norman settlers? While a significant amount of work has been published on ethnic identity in medieval Europe, including those of the Italian peninsula, I feel uncomfortable with the use of the term ‘ethnicity’ to describe the identity of one or other group of people. Shared traditions – ways of doing things, perhaps also of beliefs – might not necessarily stem from common ethnicities but rather from shared habits that develop over a number of generations. Similarly, how do gender identities inform the manner in which the objects are exchanged and used?