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3. Given or constructed? Identity in cultural anthropologylocked

  • Florian Coulmas


‘Who are we?’ is just as tricky a question as ‘Who am I?’ Humanity is one, but at the same time divided into multiple groups. Humans exhibit many variations, notably race, language, and religion. These features constitute ‘ethnicity’, marking what seem to be clear distinctions; yet their usefulness for a coherent classification is limited. They are contingent, and hence subject to perpetual change, and they are vague, allowing for partial and shifting attachment. What is more, how we see ourselves often does not match how others see us. ‘Given or constructed? Identity in cultural anthropology’ considers the issues of ethnographic imagination, administrative classifications, ascription and assertion, voluntary attachment, stereotypes, and ethnocentrism.

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