The (Re)Construction of Ethnicity in Africa: Extending the Chronology, Conceptualisation and Discourse

  • Ronald R. Atkinson


As the end of the twentieth century nears, ethnicity seems entrenched as a commanding presence in the world — as a powerful political idiom and mobilising ideology, as a significant component of popular consciousness, and as a major focus of academic discourse. This was not apparent just a few decades ago. Crawford Young notes that the years from the end of World War II through the 1980s ‘witnessed the apotheosis of the nation-state… when this form of polity appeared astonishingly ascendant’, or even ‘a natural culmination of human progress and fulfillment of historic destiny’.1 These, however, were transient impressions, fostered by a specific set of historical conjunctures in the post-War period and shattered by the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the particular ferocity of ‘ethnic cleansing’, or ‘ethnocide’, marking civil wars in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.


Ethnic Identity Collective Identity African Study Colonial Period Academic Discourse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald R. Atkinson

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