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A multiple-use name is a name used by many different people to protect anonymity. It is a strategy that has been adopted by many unconnected radical and cultural groups, where the construct of personal identity has been criticised.
One of the first multiple-use names was that of Nicolas Bourbaki which first appeared in 1935 and was used by multiple (mainly French) mathematicians to exemplify the collective effort that goes into mathematics.
Other multiple identities in use include Geoffrey Cohen, Monty Cantsin, Luther Blissett, S. Larson and Karen Eliot. These multiple-use names were developed and popularized in the 1970s and 1980s in artistic subcultures like Mail Art and its offshoot Neoism, which coined the multiple-use name concept of the "open pop star."
The avant-garde pre-texts include the pseudonym Rrose Sélavy jointly used by Dada artist Marcel Duchamp and the surrealist poet Robert Desnos, but references in other realms of culture go back much further, e.g. Buddha (which is both a proper noun and a condition that may be achieved by anyone), Poor Konrad (the collective name adopted by all Swabian peasants during their rebellion against taxes in 1514), Captain Ludd, Robin Hood and Captain Swing.
Examples of multiple-use names
- Home, Stewart (1997). Mind Invaders: A Reader in Psychic Warfare, Cultural Sabotage and Semiotic Terrorism. Indiana University: Serpent's Tail. p. 119. ISBN 1-85242-560-1.
- Cf. autonome a.f.r.i.k.a gruppe, "All or None? Multiple Names, Imaginary Persons, Collective Myths", eipcp.net.