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The Politics of Difference

Ethnic Premises in a World of Power

According to most social scientists, the advent of a global media village and the rise of liberal democratic government would diminish ethnic and national identity as a source of political action. Yet the contemporary world is in the midst of an explosion of identity politics and often violent ethnonationalism.

This volume examines cases ranging from the well-publicized ethnonationalism of Bosnia and post-Apartheid South Africa to ethnic conflicts in Belgium and Sri Lanka. Distinguished international scholars including John Comaroff, Stanley J. Tambiah, and Ernesto Laclau argue that continued acceptance of imposed ethnic terms as the most appropriate vehicle for collective self-identification and social action legitimizes the conditions of inequality that give rise to them in the first place.

This ambitious attempt to explain the inadequacies of current approaches to power and ethnicity forges more realistic alternatives to the volatile realities of social difference.

220 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1996

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Culture Studies

Political Science: Comparative Politics

Table of Contents

Edwin N. Wilmsen, Patrick McAllister.
Introduction: Premises of Power in Ethnic Politics
Edwin N. Wilmsen
1: Varieties of Ethnic Politics and Ethnicity Discourse
Jan Nederveen Pieterse
2: Universalism, Particularism, and the Question of Identity
Ernesto Laclau
3: Thinking Identities: Against a Theory of Ethnicity
Aletta J. Norval
4: Hegemony, Power, and Languages of Contention
William Roseberry
5: Ethnogenesis and Ethnic Mobilization: A Comparative Perspective on a
South African Dilemma
John Sharp
6: European Concepts of Nation-Building
Jan Blommaert, Jef Verschueren.
7: The Nation-State in Crisis and the Rise of Ethnonationalism
Stanley J. Tambiah
8: "The Voice of Sanity Getting Hoarse"? Destructive Processes in
Violent Ethnic conflict
Stephen Ryan
9: Ethnicity, Nationalism, and the Politics of Difference in an Age of
John L. Comaroff
List of Contributors

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