Identity crisis, identity politics, national identites, diaspora identities, sexual identities - in recent years, identity and difference have been the focus of key debates in cultural studies. This broad-ranging book examines the challenge of these debates and outlines their applications to central questions of gender, sexuality, embodiment, health, `race' and nation.The importance of identity and difference in the contemporary world is illustrated at multiple levels - global, local and personal. The authors demonstrate the ways in which identities are constructed for and by individuals, and question notions of the fixity of identity and difference. Explanations of identity and difference from essentialist, social constructionist, psychoanalytic, feminist and discursive approaches are explored. The complexity of contemporary identities is illustrated through a range of examples including popular discourses of motherhood, ideas of the healthy body and diaspora identities.The text renders accessible some of the most exciting and controversial issues in recent cultural studies. Combining theoretical explanation with in-depth discussion of key areas of contested identities, together with activities and selected readings, it will be essential reading for teachers and students in cultural studies and related fields.Identity and Difference is one of a series of books developed by the Open University which aims to offer a comprehensive and innovative introduction to contemporary cultural studies. The series editor is Professor Stuart Hall.