NEGOTIATIONS OF IDENTITIES IN RWANDA, ZANZIBAR AND SUDAN: Macro-level identity approaches and micro-level responses
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- Institutt for psykologi 
To make the world more manageable people categorize, i.e. we sort people into meaningful categories. Looking at the social psychology categorization literature, the role of leadership is largely ignored, and there is a tendency to see social identities as something that happens rather than something actively constructed and negotiated. Further, categorization processes are often studied without attention to specific context, as if group constellations happen irrespective of context. To contribute to these gaps, this thesis examines negotiations of identities among political leaders and general population respondents using semi-structured interviews (N=199). Macro-level identity approaches and micro-level responses were explored in three cases: Rwanda, Zanzibar (category inclusion processes) and Sudan (category exclusion processes). These processes are discussed within the recategorization framework: moving from subordinate categories towards a superordinate category to increase intergroup harmony. The thesis consists of four articles. Leadership narratives on the radical identity approach single recategorization (where subordinate identities are replaced by a superordinate identity) are rare. In article I Rwandan leaders justify and discuss this employed identity approach. The article demonstrates the impact of leadership on publically available categorizations. This macro perspective is combined with micro perspectives in article II, based on Rwandan general population participants. This article shows the broad and nuanced responses participants had to the single recategorization, highlighting people’s active negotiations of identities. A recurring question was how recategorization came about, and this was explored in article III, on Zanzibar. Both leaders and the general population discussed reasons for dual recategorization (retaining subordinate identities whilst emphasising a superordinate identity), where the interaction between structural, political and ideological conditions was demonstrated. The link between a superordinate identity and intergroup harmony has been supported by social psychological research. Articles I–III indicate potential challenges with superordinate identities, as these were not perceived as fully inclusive. In article IV, using leadership and general population material from Sudan, this discussion is taken further, emphasising the exclusive nature of the Sudanese national identity as defined by the government. This shows the potential toxicity of hegemonic superordinate identities. The main conclusions of this thesis are that leadership influences categorizations, but population responses are not passive, making this an intricate process, even in coercive contexts. Second, categorizing people into groups are acutely contextual processes, and this context dependency needs to be acknowledged.