Identity and Violence


Ashbrook, Tom, and Amartya Sen. 2006. “Identity and Violence”. Copy at

Date Published:

Apr 6, 2006


Nobel prize-wining economist Amartya Sen has long since looked beyond the numbers of development and growth and into the affairs of the human heart. What he sees there these days he finds deeply troubling.

From East to West, he warns, people around the world are being boxed into narrow, dangerous understandings of their own identity. Reduced from full and complex human beings to simply Muslim, Christian, Shiite, Sunni, Jew.

Sen has a bone to pick with Samuel Huntington's “Clash of Civilizations” thesis. It is the road to hell, he says. But maybe we were already on it.

Hear Nobelist Amartya Sen talk about identity, violence and what he calls the “illusion of destiny”.

Listen to On Point with Tom Ashbrook and Amartya Sen.

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard University and a Faculty Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.