The Multiplicity Turn: Theories of Identity From Poetry to Mathematics

In the last century, major breakthroughs in our understanding of ‘identity’ have changed the way that we think about ourselves and the world around us. In the Humanities, fields such as Race and Ethnicity Studies, Gender Studies, History, and Literary Studies have taught us to think of who we are and how we identify ourselves from an intersectional, multicultural, and interspecies viewpoint. In contemporary Mathematics and Logic, the notion of identity has been the object of a radical reconceptualization, mainly developed in the framework of category theory and homotopy type theory. This reconceptualization has shed light on new plural, multi-layered ways of conceiving identity in the hard sciences. This Collaborative Project seeks to study turning points in identity theory from medieval to contemporary times. In particular, we will look at a turn from one-dimensional to multi-layered theories of identity, impacting disciplines as diverse as Physics, Logic, Mathematics, Literary Studies, Gender Studies, and Race and Ethnicity Studies. In order to approach this transformation from an interdisciplinary standpoint, this initiative will bring together researchers from the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (Stanford University) and researchers from the Laboratoire SPHERE – Sciences, Philosophie, Histoire (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Paris Diderot). In bridging the Humanities and the Sciences, we seek to examine not only multiple theories of identity belonging to different disciplines, but also their impact on a wider cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural history.


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