Collective Identity In A Hero Of Our Time

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George Sand’s Indiana and Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time interrogate the conflict between individual and collective identity in the nineteenth century through presenting the individual as a site of ambiguity and hybridity that disrupts the supposed coherence and homogeneity of the collective identities cultivated by national and colonial power relations. Collective identity attempts to bound and border individuals within binary categories, presenting groups defined by national, ethnic, racial, and gender as homogenous. Sand and Lermontov present multiple individuals who cross categories and disrupt assumptions of collective identity. However, ultimately, the individual cannot overthrow the collective identity and must assimilate or be erased.
Both texts present liminal individuals in conflict
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H. Adlai Murdoch constructs the nineteenth-century, French collective identity as metropolitan and colonising, subsuming diverse individuals ‘beneath the protective and instructive umbrella of French culture’. This identity assumes a ‘binary difference’ between what is French (‘self’) and what is not French (‘other’), creating oppositional, exclusive categories: metropolitan and African, coloniser and colonised, and black and white. This ‘otherness’ is also highly gendered, with the male/female and masculine/feminine binaries othering the female/feminine. When individuals blur these categories, they become liminal. Valeria Sobol defines the liminal personae as ambiguous, paradoxical, and resistant to categorization. In Katya Hokanson’s assessment of Russian identity, she observes this issue of liminality in the Russian borderlands (as in the frontier of A Hero of Our Time), noting previous literary attempts to separate Russian identity from the Oriental other. For instance, Peter Scotto explains the justification of Russian imperial identity predicated on the otherness and savageness of those conquered: ‘In

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