Wilde said: ‘most people are other people’. He may not have meant it in the orientalist context, but the same idea applies. We define our personal identity in relation to other people in our society. There is always a relative situation that enables us to define our place in society; I guess this is a natural part of living as separate creatures in a shared world.
A very interesting book by Amartya Sen opens with Wilde’s quote and goes on to explore the very question of identity, nationality and postcolonialism. It is called Identity and Violence: the Illusion of Destiny. It is full of humour and insight, and sheds tremendous light on the complex notion of an inherent identity. Sen is full of the wisdom of experience, brought to a sharp precision through his intellect.