Source: (2009) New York: International Center for Transitional Justice.

Identity refers to peoples’ membership in social groups. Such groups or social categories are probably infinite and include ethnic, religious, class and gender groups, but also subgroups within those groups: women, disabled women, minority women, minority disabled women, and so on. Identities are important because they are basic elements of our social life and its reproduction. Identity groups rely on rules of membership that decide who is included, as well as characteristics, including beliefs, desires, moral commitments, and physical attributes. It is important to remember identities are socially constructed over time, and they are constantly changing. This report focuses mainly on ethnoreligious identities. These are distinctive because they tend to be defined by passage from generation to generation and raise issues of cultural or biological reproduction—which is something that groups often try hard to protect. Thus, control over education of the young, a piece of territory linked to the group, and cultural practices and patrimony may acquire deeper importance where these identities are at stake. (excerpt)