11908Ethnicity in the ANE
- Jan 6, 2010I agree with Chris Weimer's point. The problem with many definitions of ethnicity is that they view the question socially. Even a piece like Nils Anfinset, "Passion for Cultural Difference: Archaeology and Ethnicity of the Southern Levant," Norwegian Archaeological Review 36 (2003) -- which I otherwise highly recommend -- treats ethnicity as a social phenomenon. Syro-Pal. archaeology has almost always done so.
William Sewell's "Concept(s) of Culture," in Beyond the Cultural Turn, ed. Victoria E. Bonnell and Lynn Hunt (1999) tried to move the discussion of ethnicity away from strictly social definitions towards cultural ideas, as well. The "archaeological correlates" of ethnicity have traditionally been homogeneity, whether of building style or pottery or whatever. Sewell says this may be misguided: shared "style" need not correlate with group identity (although it might). He writes, "It simply requires that if meaning is to exist at all, there must be systematic relations among signs and a group of people who recognize those relations."
Catholic University of America
Sent: Wed 06/01/2010 3:08 PM
Subject: [ANE-2] Re: Ethnicity in the ANE
I still think I'd rather have Siân Jones' definition:
"Ethnic groups are culturally ascribed identity groups, which are based on the expression of a real or assumed shared culture and common descent."
The "culturally ascribed" modifier assumes that the whole thing is discursive, which in my opinion negates Barth's definition inasmuch as it's not so much what a person thinks about themselves, but what a person thinks about themselves with respect to what others think about that person. That's why Macedonians (from FYRM) aren't Greeks - Greeks say they're not.
Now that I chimed in on my area of research, I'll go back and read the rest of the conversation.
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