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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The power of constructed identities? Thinking through ethnicity in Africa
Author:Akyeampong, EmmanuelISNI
Periodical:Research Review (ISSN 0855-4412)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Africa
social research
social history
Anlo (African people)--Ethnic identity
Ewe (African people)--Ethnic identity
Abstract:This article examines the disjuncture between everyday discourse about 'tribalism' in Africa and the academic construction of 'ethnicity'. It reviews the social science literature which by the 1960s underscored the social construction or 'invention' of ethnicity vis--vis its past primordial image. The colonial era is seen as the fertile period during which tribes were invented. With the current understanding of the fluidity of identity, why do ethnic identities inspire rigid loyalties and people seem prepared to die over constructed, and thus artificial, categories? While the article acknowledges the contemporary conception of ethnicity as historically defined, situational and flexible, it demonstrates that academic discourse needs to take cognizance of everyday understandings and uses of ethnicity if that concept is not to lose its explanatory value. The Anlo-Ewe of southeast Ghana serve as an illustration of the argument. Bibliogr., ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]