Identity politics have been a focus of academic research over the last years, but they have also entered public and popular discourses and thus continue to fuel changing intellectual perspectives as much as everyday life. The present issue of Ethnologia Europaea assembles a number of papers that examine identity work in different settings. What are the lasting assets and the changing risks of this concept, in both social life and ethnological analysis? Søren Christensen discusses ways in which the global and the national are linked in Danish politics and in the nation-branding of Danishness as a global export commodity. Rob van Ginkel looks at the identity politics of folk dancing and debates of authenticity versus cosmopolitanism in the Netherlands since the Second World War. Sofi Gerber follows how East and West have been renegotiated in Germany after 1989. The changing stereotypical polarizations, in which the question of ‘the authentic’ becomes a weapon, show – in a different time and place – similarities to the battle over folk dancing. Kira Kosnick takes the question of identity politics to a club scene in Berlin. She discusses the ways in which identity labeling of minorities may produce a very one-dimensional understanding of the workings of urban social life. The politics of ageing is the theme for Lars-Eric Jönsson’s contribution. How were labels of old age or childishness handled in psychiatric institutions of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries?