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Linking Essentialist and Constructivist Ethnicity
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology.
2013 (English)In: Acta Borealia, ISSN 0800-3831, Vol. 30, no 2, 129-153 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article argues that the essentialist and the constructivist positions within theories of ethnicity are in fact compatible if one introduces a concept here called "internalized fluid capacities", connoting that which is inherently (genetically) dispositional — and in that sense biologically "anticipated" — but which remains to be developed into observable social characteristics through sociocultural impact. This perspective is based on the genetic capacity to mold or "instruct" the development of an organism from its embryonic state and onwards by using prior stages as points of departure for further instructions. In this way, certain fluid capacities become imprinted in individuals and collectivities through reinforcing interaction with the ambient society. These capacities may then harden and develop into apparent "essentials", forming a group's collective self-image. The article concludes with the suggestion that this explanatory model can be usefully applied to the debate around Swedish governmental definitions of Saamihood.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2013. Vol. 30, no 2, 129-153 p.
Keyword [en]
Ethnicity, genes, Saami, evolution
National Category
Social Anthropology
Research subject
Cultural Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-206725DOI: 10.1080/08003831.2013.818265ISI: 000326780000001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-206725DiVA: diva2:645230
Available from: 2013-09-03 Created: 2013-09-03 Last updated: 2013-12-10Bibliographically approved

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