This introductory chapter provides an overview of some of the problems of identity. There would seem to be both public and private issues of identity. In the public sphere, in talk about crime, health, prostitution, and urbanism, the identities of those who make up the social body become a problem in a new way. In broad outline, this must have to do with the growth of cities, along with the institutionalization and increasing bureaucratization of the modern nation-state. The chapter then turns to the private or inner sense of identity that is at the very center of modern thought and imagination from the dawn of the modern world on—starting with the Renaissance, one might say, though one could push the date back to remarkable innovations from the twelfth century but gaining a new momentum and a new accent in the Enlightenment.
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