Ethnoculture is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access electronic journal publishing research and scholarship by members of COER, the IUAES Commission on Ethnic Relations.
Volumes are thematic, gathering final versions of papers originally prepared for and/or presented at COER-organized meetings.
A volume stays posted on this site until a new volume is ready. When a new volume is posted, the previous one is archived (see Archives).
Readers are welcome to download, print, and use articles from the journal for scholarly and/or teaching purposes, as long as they provide full citation (see Citation Guidelines).
Papers are peer-reviewed by fellow COER members, and copy-edited and processed for electronic posting by the COER's Editorial Collective, constituted by nomination.
Authors retain the copyright
of their papers and can resubmit, reprint, or otherwise reuse them without
Editor: E. L. Cerroni-Long
Ethnoculture is published in HTML format only; thus, quoting, citing, or otherwise disseminating materials from its volumes requires acknowledgement of the internet source via URL. A sample citation might read as follows:
Please note that HTML texts are normally not paginated. Thus, any reference will need to give the total length of the article (as indicated by the example above), which is provided in the Table of Contents and at the beginning of each article.
access each article,
ETHNOCULTURE (Vol.2, 2010 p. 1)
COER has embarked upon a worldwide survey of "best practices" in addressing ethnicity at the level of theory, practice, and policy--anthropologically assessed. In line with this aim, it sponsored a two-panel session at the IUAES World Congress held in Kunming (China) in July 2009. The session's full title was "Representing Ethnicity: Dynamics of Practice and Research", and it addressed questions related to the respective titles of the two panels: "Ethnic Transitions" and "Ethnic Interactions".
What is ethnicity and how do ethnic groups come into existence? Do all ethnic groups ultimately aspire to sovereignty? How does belonging to an ethnic group affect behavior, identity, and group representation? These questions point to the relationship of ethnicity to nationalism and democracy, which has been defined as one of the central issue of our age. Similarly, sorting out the relationship between cultures, subcultures, and ethnic groups remains a core theoretical issue in anthropology. In spite of the growth in the cultural heterogeneity of nation-states triggered by globalization, there is little agreement among social scientists on how best to respond to it in terms of policies that protect the cultural rights of minority groups without fostering separatist movements.
Multicultural education has been seen as a particularly promising strategy toward the establishment of genuinely pluralistic forms of governance. However, the link between power--social, political, economic--and cultural hegemony seems to be very strong, and cultural dissonance in hierarchical, centralized polities sets into motion a powerful centrifugal process. This process often leads to the self-segregation of any group seeing itself as "different" from the mainstream, and this in turn precipitates ethnogenesis, ultimately resulting in secessionist aspirations. Because of this, multicultural education often seems part of an accommodationist strategy, aimed at defusing conflict by focusing the attention of non-dominant populations on issues of cultural identity, rather than on the ongoing realities of socio-political inequality. Furthermore, the way multicultural education has been developed seems to vary along a broad spectrum. Indeed, the very concept of multiculturalism remains vague, and gets defined and applied in very culture-specific ways. These differences correlate to the various ways ethnicity itself is perceived, expressed, and represented by in-group and out-group members within any national setting. Such cross-cultural variation needs to be documented and explored and anthropologists have the best disciplinary tools for clarifying the conceptual categories to be used in ethnicity research.
The overall aim of the session, therefore, was to gather and present research which analyzes current representations of ethnicity and assesses them cross-culturally. In particular, it aimed at encouraging discussion of the contrasting ways ethnicity is defined, expressed, analyzed, and represented within and outside specific ethnic groups. The papers selected for publication in this new issue of Ethnoculture are emblematic of the session's objectives and, by combining the presentation of empirical research with theoretical elaborations, they encourage the formulation of both scholarly treatments and policy applications that promise to establish constructive forms of cultural pluralism.