MALTE WOYDT

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Ethnicity

“Ethnicity is one of the most widely cited causes of political action, but one of the most difficult concepts to define precisely. … The compelling force of the concept … derives from the perception that it provides a singularly tight fit between identity and community. … Hence the notion is predicated on two fundamental assumptions. The first is that it is possible to identify clearly those characteristics that distinguish one ethnic group from another. The other is that such features are of primary, or determinant, significance for members of those groups. …

In the West it is viewed primarily as an emotional attachment to a commmunity of origin of, more pragmatically, as a basis for lobbying. From the West, however, ethnicity in less economically advanced, of simply culturally different, settings is perceived more as a primordial sentiment, a quality of being which is overwhelming – that is, over which people have little control. Although the same term is used in both instances, in reality the one is the reverse side of the other. …

The point is to … move away from evolutionary theory, and to accept that the instrumental quality of ethnicity is both historically and culturally bound, whatever the setting. … It is neither as clear-cut nor as casual as it is blithely assumed to be. …

The idea that ethnicity is easily identified is very largely a myth, in part due to the colonial method of classifying ‘natives’. … [in] pre-colonial Africa … ethnicity was an eminently fluid and malleable characteristic. Individual, and even whole groups, could easily change ethnic identities or entertain several, or, alternatively consider themselves part of extended religions and occupational groups … At the same time ethnicity need not automatically be politically consequented. … it is imperative to distinguish between political tribalism … from moral ethnicity, which provides the ethical framework for the life of a particular community.”

aus: Patrick Chabal & Jean-Pascal Daloz: Culture Troubles. Politics and the Interpretation of Meaning. London: Hurst & Co., 2006, S.112-115.

09/09

01/09/2009 (23:43) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

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