View the H-Africa Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-Africa's November 1997 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-Africa's November 1997 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-Africa home page.
<firstname.lastname@example.org> It is good to appreciate the value of changing the vocabulary that may have gone stale. However, the concept "ethnicity" is a problem because of how it has been articulated by observers (cademics, journalists, and government agencies). "Ethnicity" should be acknowledged as a word designating multi-lingual entities of Africa, whose bonds with "others" are not singlualry specific to political, economic, religious, social or other forms of relationships. Despite the studies by anthropologists and historians, many observers desire to see in them exclusive, perhaps "small-scale" social groups. African ethnic groups are not like that, and perhaps that recognition might save us from throwing yet another word *at a source* of real problem in contemporary Africa. It will either force our focus away from looking for alternative solutions to the problems or to pretend that the problems do not exist. Adopting the word "meta-ethnicity" might ease our own discomfort, opening a seeming vista of new horizons for investigation or discovery. It will allow for sustaining the notion that "ethnicity" as a description of a "singular" entity that does not represent the identity on the ground. The problems of ethnic identity are in its multiple implications that observers and policy makers resist. I would like to suggest that we continue to refine or "expand" the concept that ethnicity in Africa is both inclusive and exclusive (of religions, political systems, social forms, alliances and so on). We should accept that ethnicity does not represent some one thing alone. Observers need to accept the wide implications