Re: Ethnic

Robert Roosen (
Sun, 30 Apr 1995 16:37:48 GMT

Pamela N. Lindell ( wrote:
: Vincenzo Bitti ( wrote:

: : I want point the discussion on the double status of the term ethnic:
: : political and scientific. Maybe are different because today there
: : are group of people that declares itself "ethnic groups" , before we
: : named this group as "ethnic".

: I think this is an important point. By anthropological definition
: ethnicity is a comparative concept -- it arises in situations of culture
: contact when a group of people define themselves as different and unified
: in comparison to other groups. Therefore the concept of ethnicity is
: created by the groups in contact.

A lot of what looks like "ethnic" from the outside is actually family
from the "insider's" point of view.
It takes a patient observer to find the lines of cleavage that
existed before the society being observed became safe enough for the
observer to be there :-)
"Scientists" often recognize ethnic relationships after the power
has gone out of them.
For instance, Captain Cook found "the Hawaiians". Now we know
that the Samoans conquered Hawaii about 1066 and displaced the earlier
Marquesans as bosses. The previous royalty became the lowest caste, and
the earlier inhabitants became commoners. Both groups were
protien-starved in order to keep them physically weaker than the ruling
Samoans, or Alii.
If one keeps on subdividing these social/biological groupings,
the individual human is soon reached.
btw, Einstein has proven that the individual observer is the
center of the individual universe. All these taxonomies may be useful as
tools for measurement. The choice of subject and method is up to the