Recent Dutch and Belgian approaches to ethnicity in Africa

TitleRecent Dutch and Belgian approaches to ethnicity in Africa
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsK. Schilder, and W.M.J. van Binsbergen
Secondary TitleAfrika focus
Pagination3 - 15
Date Published1993///
Publication Languageeng
Keywords1991, Africa, conference papers (form), ethnicity

This article is an editorial introduction to the five contributions to a two-day Dutch-Belgian workshop on ethnicity in Africa (Leiden, The Netherlands, December 1991) selected for publication in the present issue of 'Afrika Focus'. It highlights various aspects of the study of ethnicity which emerge from the papers in question: the deconstruction of the ethnic group as a group, the characterization of ethnicity as a cultural process primarily determined by an underlying struggle for power, the dynamism of ethnicity as a phenomenon subject to constant change, ethnic social stratification and the role of elites. The papers suggest that current approaches to African ethnicity have tended to overemphasize the formative influence of the colonial State at the expense of continuity with precolonial processes of group formation. They also suggest that there is a case for a reassessment of the limits to the political manipulation of ethnic consciousness, and the exploration of the explanatory value of local cultures considered over considerable time periods. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum

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