From Political Mobilization to the Politics of Consciousness

  • Hans Vermeulen
  • Cora Govers

Abstract

Ethnic Groups and Boundaries by Fredrik Barth (1969) marked the transition to a new era of ethnic studies in the late sixties and early seventies. The Invention of Tradition by Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983) and Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson (1983) played a similar role in a paradigm shift in the early eighties. While Barth’s approach focused on ‘the social organization of ethnic differences’, as the subtide of the book indicates, in the Hobsbawm and Ranger volume and Anderson’s book, topics like the creation and transformation of ethnic identities are addressed. The message of the second shift was that the main question to be asked should not focus on ‘what drives ethnic group action’, but on ‘the existence of the group itself (Young 1993: 23). And since the ethnic group was now conceived of as an imagined community, the study of ethnicity became above all a study of ethnic consciousness. Cohen’s formulation of his own position has in this respect a broader significance:

The consequence change in the anthropology of the ethnicity had … to move from a position in which it took consciousness for granted or neglected it, to one in which it made consciousness problematic. We devised systems for constructing other people’s consciousness, without inquiring too closely into their veracity. This is my point of departure from the Barth of 1969. (1994: 60)

Keywords

Sugar Migration Europe Assimilation Turkey 

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Vermeulen
  • Cora Govers

There are no affiliations available

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