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Week 11 Lecture

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Victor Barac

Ethnicity, Nation, Race • Ethnicity comes from the Greek word Ethnos, which means nation • Nation is rooted in nature • Race means a variety or type of origins OVERVIEW 1. Ethnicity • Increasingly difficult to differentiate ethnic group 2. Ethnicity in flux 3. Ethnicity and boundary formation 4. National tradition 5. Politics of national identity 6. Components of nationalism 7. Binary vs. segmentary 8. Race 9. Classification for race: USA 10. Classification for race: Canada 11. Race in Andean Peru Ethnicity 1. Primordial attachments • Ethnicity as essence of identity • Linked to early socialization • We tend to think of ethnicity of attachments and essence of food and non- verbal communication, the distance people keep when they talk 2. Ethnicity as descent • Based on narratives of origin, migration, and the suffering of “a people” • A way of constructing history and autobiography as well • We are all descendants of some mystical ancestors, we don’t know how we’re connected we somehow we are connected (we look alike, we eat the same food, etc.) • We’re going to be peaceful to each other and regard each other as brothers and sisters, and will construct the society/community • A way of classifying the society and defining who’s inside/outside the group, and that will determine the condition of how people relate 3. Ethnicity and the nationstate • Dominant narratives • The state as site of ethnic/political struggle Ethnicity in flux – ethnicity is actually fluid and is made up and can be remade, often chosen identification (people choose to identify with their ethnicity) Edmund Leach. 1954. Political Systems of Highland Burma. 1. Shan – lowland river valleys, irrigation rice agriculture 2. Kachin (people are subdivided) – highland slashandburn rice cultivators • Culturally they are all similar • Many of them who didn’t want to live and work in their natal homeland, then many of them migrated and went to the lowland and many of these families after one generation looked similar and assimilated • There’s an element of choice involved • It’s context dependent as well 1. Gumlao – egalitarian, acephalous groups (didn’t have permanent leaders, didn’t establish the kings, chiefs, etc.) 2. Gumsa – ranked lineages, hereditary chieftainships (represent a more stratified society than the Gumlao Ethnicity and boundary formation – ethnicity was essentially involved in social creation and formation of boundaries between people Fredrik Barth. 1969. Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. 1. Ethnicity NOT an inventory of cultural traits • Can’t list the cultural traits, ethnicity is an active process of boundary formation 2. Ethnicity as boundary formation • These cultural traits are not unchangeable, are changeable and flexible • How would you prevent one from mating with each other or marrying? • Value systems are often involved (more family-oriented, honest) 3. Ethnicity is functional • Ethnicity is used in the construction of social relations • Ethnicity is often the basis for division of labour – one ethnic group is managers and another group is labourers/slaves National tradition – creation of nation states and creation of national tradition, there’s a whole mythical aspect in constructing the history 1. Imagined community • Nation states have millions of people, you can’t possibly know everyone, so creating a national tradition is one way to integrate everyone • Community is not just functional, but there’s a strong emotional attachment 2. Manipulation of nationalist sentiment • Very important for creating national tradition • E.g. the usage of national anthem music is a powerful way of triggering emotions and memories than using signs, flags, civic festivals • When there’s a whole bunch of people doing the same thing, you’re caught up in emotions • Basis of national cult
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