A short essay exploring interpellation and the policing of identity. The piece features the experience of African Americans at U. S. Customs, the whipping of Kunta Kinte in the Roots miniseries, and what LeVar Burton taught his son to do were he to be pulled over by a police officer. The essay is in conversation with Vaia Touna’s, “Who are You? I am Vaia and I’m Touna.”

Volume Abstract

As part of the Working With Culture on the Edge series, this volume pairs early career scholars with members of Culture on the Edge, to explore how social actors identify themselves through their practices and associations. The book is arranged in a series of articles and commentaries that all press the model of seeing what we usually call identity as the result of a series of identifications—actions and circumstances that enable us to understand ourselves as related to others in specific ways. Changing relations result in changing senses of identity. With an introduction and substantive theoretical afterword, the book’s brief main chapters make it an ideal conversation-started in classes or primer for those wishing to rethink how we normally talk about identity.

Related Media

“Your Name is Toby!” from Roots (1977)
LeVar Burton on what to do when pulled over.
"Customs Declaration for passengers coming from Abroad" form from Mexico.
What would you put for “nationality?”


Richard Newton, “Naaaaaw You Show Me Your ID,” in Fabricating Identities, ed. Russell T. McCutcheon (UK: Equinox Publishers, 2017), 99-104.