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Ethnicity and the Colonial State pdf download

📘 Book Title Ethnicity And The Colonial State
👤 Book AuthorAlexander Keese
🖨️ Total Pages387
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🌐 LanguageEnglish
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Ethnicity and the Colonial State – Finding and Representing Group Identifications in a Coastal West African and Global Perspective (1850–1960)

By Alexander Keese


Ethnicity and the Colonial State

Ethnicity does not matter in the long-term perspective. Such was the conclusion formulated by a new generation of ‘Africanists’ in the 1970s and 1980s, and it was a kind of scientific revolution. Its defenders held that in sub-Saharan Africa, ethnicity had mainly been created through European colonial rule, and was, therefore, an entirely artificial concept.1

For a period that roughly coincides with the 15 years between 1975 and 1990, the attack against the well-established idea of primordial ethnic groups in Africa – which had dominated anthropological thought from the colonial period onwards – seemed to win the day.2

In spite of Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger’s initiative to understand the ‘invention of tradition’ with a view to identifying the creation of group sentiment in a comparative and global approach, however, reflections of historians working on group identity in the African continent have rarely entered the debates on global history.3

While migration and connection – for example, over the Atlantic or the Indian Ocean – are essential themes in global historical studies, they do not yet interact with the analysis of ethnicity that has been at the heart of debates in African history.4 This book hopes to make a contribution to finding the connection.

In the public debate about ethnicity, the new interpretations from social anthropology and historical research on sub-Saharan Africa have had very little impact from the outset.5

Even the ‘subjects of analysis’, including elites that would eventually read such studies, do not at all seem to feel that they live according to roles constructed by others. Among the local populations, we encounter a general feeling of certainty that ethnic criteria explain group affiliation and group hostilities.6

 One might even argue that while ethnicity was deconstructed as a guiding principle by historians and anthropologists, the concept has become increasingly important for political and social relations in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Not only is it employed by political analysts and journalists from outside, who wish to simplify African topics for their readers or audience,7 but African populations seem to embrace it, without being manipulated to do so: categories of ethnicity appear to play an essential role in their life.

A good example of the reappearance of ethnic solidarity after periods of rupture is the effect of the 2007 elections in civil-war-torn Sierra Leone. In this small West African country, ethnic categories had been eclipsed in many areas during the 1990s, as a consequence of the Revolutionary United Front (ruf) rebellion.8

The civil war dramatically destabilised the existing patron-client networks based on ethnic labels.9 However, ethnic categories had not disappeared from national politics, as exemplified by the surprise win in the electoral

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