Conceptual Theory Of Ethnicity Analysis

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PROBLEMATIZING THE CONCEPTUAL CATEGORY OF ETHNICITY “When studying the literature produced on ethnicity in the past decades it becomes obvious that despite its popularity in academia and the public discourse, the concept is fuzzy, applied in a variety of contexts and used to describe many different things” (KUKUCZKA, 2011). Over the last decade or two, largely in response to the world – wide emergence of identity politics of various kinds – ethnic conflicts, separatist movements, fundamentalism: identity has become a major theme of research and debate within international anthropology and sociology. Research on such issues within the Indian sociology has not progressed to the extend required in the context of contemporary political and…show more content…
They are creations of elites, who draw upon, distort, and sometimes fabricate materials from the cultures of the groups they wish to represent in order to protect their well-being or existence or to gain political and economic advantage for their groups as well as for themselves.
 The second argument is that ethnicity and nationalism are modern phenomena inseparably connected with the activities of the modern centralizing state”. (Brass 1990) Hence according to Paul Brass, “ethnicity and nationality are socially constructed by elites for instrumental and materialist reasons, and are ineluctably implicated in the modern state”. (Brass 1990) Thus, it implies that ethnic identity itself is a variable rather than a “fixed” or given disposition. He sees elite competition as an important force in shaping historical outcomes: 'Elites seeing to mobilize the ethnic group against its rivals or against the centralizing state strive to promote a congruence of a multiplicity of the group 's symbols... Elites seeking to challenge the authenticity of an ethnic group 's claim for individuality will do the opposite…..’ This further implies that 'the process of ethnic identity formation and its transformation into nationalism is reversible. ' (Manor 1996) He accepts the insights in the well-known book The “invention of tradition,” but he adds that when ethnic consciousness is
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Frederik Barth in his book “Ethnic groups and boundaries” 1969 set out the subtle and sinuous frontiers of ethnic boundaries, the interconnectedness of ethnic identities and the continuity and transformation of ethnic groups. Barth provides a comparative study on ethnicity through ethnographic case study method. Barth and his collaborators observed how the boundaries between two ethnic groups are maintained, even though their culture might be indistinguishable and even though individual and groups might switch from one side of boundaries to the other. He stressed on the need to study how group consciousness makes the members believe that there is something that unites them and set them apart from others. Barth sought to analyze that although ethnic categories incorporate “culture” but there is no simple one – to- one relationship between ethnic units and cultural similarities and differences. “Barth also brought our attention to the facts that part from ethnic elites who create appearance of cultural discontinuities to construct boundaries between “us” and “them”, centrally valued institutions and activities also contribute to boundary maintenance”. (Srikanth
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