Talk:Ethnic group/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2


the whole idea of ethnicity was created to differentiate between a common people, not to unite... SEE: race. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:20, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

Interesting addition. Is that just your opinion or do you have sources to back that up. If there are sources, then it would be a good addition to the article. Self-segregation as well as distinguishing between different groups has been around for thousands of years Kman543210 (talk) 01:34, 19 May 2008 (UTC)


It's what brought me here. OED indicates that it is greek in origin ( εθνiκ-οσ) and the English heathen has same root. Lycurgus (talk) 12:16, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Wiki Definition of Ethnicity is incorrect

The real definition of ethnicity does not pertain to a social group's common genealogy, but to a social group's common culture, and/or a social group's national ties.

Raa3 (talk) 21:20, 29 March 2008 (UTC)


I rewrote the introduction to this article to make it clearer and more accurate. I do not want to delete the hard work of someone else, but frankly I just didn't understand the earlier version. Here it is:

The biological race too, is usually taken into account, and some consider it as a basic platform on which cultural heritages can be preserved and continued via a genetical perpetuation. This concept is however adversed by those who believe that the ethnic group can be accessed also by spontaneous choice or - more commonly - marriage (allowed exogamy), and is not closed to new adherents.
Besides, some authors suggest that an element of volountarity should always exist in the individuals, in the sense that the appartenance to an ethnic group, if considered as a condivision of culture, necessarily has to be backed by the individual's acceptation. Also, an ethnic group ordinarily expresses its social carachter by evidencing common behaviours in common forms, like ritual or conventional collective actions (even in familiar habits), which are easy to be eventually abandonned. In most systems, the eventual punishment for those individuals who wouldn't follow the "ethnic rules" is only the expulsion from the group so, it is said, any individual is usually free enough to abandon it at will. Opponents stress that the familiar education (quite generally recognized as a distinctive element) often makes it difficult to abandon the original heritage, especially if racial or geographical or linguistic elements force the group to develop an internal solidarity to protect members from external aggression and/or isolation (racism, xenophobia). Sometimes, it is said, there wouldn't really be an alternative.
The element of traditions, which is often linked to the matter, is contested by many, given that it could be externally known and understood only by its main spectacular aspects, thus identifying a form of folklore rather than a deeper condivision of concepts.
At a political regard, an ethnic group is a social entity which has to be respected as a minoritarian yet relevant component of the whole society. In case the ethnic group represents the vast majority (better if near to the totality) of the population within a given state territory, it becomes a nation, which expresses its common culture with self-governmental powers and with international acknowledgement. In this sense, an ethnic group is a minoritarian social group which lives in a system by which it suffers for sometimes relevant differences (like in economy, for instance), in a relationship (when the ethnic group is recognized and accepted) made of tolerance rather than of condivision. When the differences become hard to sustain, from both sides, the majority tends to absorb the ethnic group in itself, often by trying to annihilate its cultural heritage. On the other side, the ethnic group might develop, among its individuals, extremist positions which sometimes explode with violence or terrorism, which can be as dangerous as harder the state's opposition becomes.
An ethnic group, in modern times, usually claims for the respect of its own identity, and this frequently finds an opposition by the state in which they live in, given that a state has a crucial interest in having its population as uniform as possible, in order to avoid secessionism or however fragmentation of the social tissue. This opposition can be expressed with military or police means, or it can be a cultural battle, in which usually a state is able to use richer and more powerful instruments: propaganda, instrumental use of mass-media, school programs. Some noted that even the classification of ethnic groups by mere biotypes (racial carachters, etc.) or geographical provenance, thus ignoring cultural aspects, is a subtile attempt to reduce eventual arguments to mere physiological or administrative differences.
The definition of an ethnic group is often referred to that of ethnicity, but the particular carachters which can identify a human group as an ethnic entity is relevant for legal aspects too. The attempt to delete an ethnic group as such (genocide), is usually punished by most legal systems.
In general, it could be resumed that an ethnic group is a community of human beings who:
  • live as a minority inside the state they are in, and claim for the respect for their social entity;
  • use a common language (which might be different from the official language of the state in which they live);
  • have common familiar and social habits and conventions, often the same religion;
  • come, by ancestry, from the same places, usually implying that at some moment a migration has happened and it is probable that a racial element can be in common too, among members.

The above touches on some very important issues, like: what an ethnic group is, conflicts between ethnic groups and nations or states, etc. But it is unclear (often refering to anonymous people who make claims -- I think an encyclopedia article needs to provide explicit information about what scholars or political leaders have made such claims; I also think that many arguments over the use of the term ethnicity, or the status of specific ethnic groups, are particular to specific places and times -- and to try to jumble the all together can lead only to confusion. But I put the deleted material here so people can continue to work on it/develop it, Slrubenstein

- - -

Hi, Slrubenstein. Since the problem discussed in several pages was how to correctly define what an ethnic group is, and why it is important to have a correct definition, my perhaps too quick attempt (but I had warned you it was quick ;-) was meant to draft some essential elements to work on.

Now, we are not looking for a dubbed definition to be used in all the related articles, we want instead a precise definition of an "ethnic group"; also useful, if possible, for the list - in the sense that, before adding a group to the list, we can reflect if the one we are thinking of can really be indicated as an ethnic group.

Names: apart from the fact that for personal problems I can't attach a bibliography I once had (but someone, hopefully, will add it to the concepts), I wouldn't stop to the authors of singular claims because the concept of ethnic group is more political than ethnological or phylosophical, any assertion is then necessarily focused - at its first issue - on single particular positions, even if the concepts later gains a similar condivision across the geographic areas (if we look at specific claims by self-defined ethnic groups, there usually are many similarities among the respective positions, even if the respective situations are different). So, this would perhaps give attention to authors more than to concepts and, just like you noted, to particular rather than to general themes. If we sort out concepts, instead of authors, (IMHO) we would more easily define elements that are not exclusive to the group that expressed it.

I believe that if we quote: I have a dream that my [four] children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, this is exactly what today African and Asian and Chinese people in Italy do think in 2002, not only what the (hopefully) famous author said in 1963 in the United States, in a different context. This is a particular encyclopedia, in which we can describe current topics too (but always in a NPOV). Ethnic groups are a precisely current topic, given that many (military, political, social or cultural) conflicts regard them right now. To be as neutral as possible, I would avoid recalling specific positions (immediately recognizable by eventual names) because we could risk to (in good faith) imply political prejudicial considerations in our vision.

So, I just wanted to reflect together over these points:]

  • Which are the elements that identify an ethnic group, in presence of what elements we can say we are in front of an ethnic group?
  • Is biological race a necessary element?
  • Is the belonging to an ethnic group intentional, or is it a mechanical unwanted condition? Can the individual abandon the group, and: if yes how, if not why?
  • Is there a pride of appartenance to an ethnic group?
  • The autonomous claim for respect by the ethnic group, is it an element we should consider as an identifying factor, or could we externally define a given human aggregation as an ethnic group, despite their eventual passivity on the point? Is it by chance a social-conflict alert?
  • What makes an ethnic group different from a nation?
  • Is an ethnic group minoritarian by definition?
  • How dominant groups deal with minor ethnic groups?
  • Which are the respective interests in play?
  • How dominant and minoritarian groups respectively act to achieve respective goals?
  • Which are the fields in which more commonly an ethnic group feels to be compressed in its "natural" vision? Economy? Religion? Justice? ...?

Eventual sub-topics:

  • Is language always distinctive?
  • Is dialect distinctive?
  • Is an eventual "ethnic literature" necessary for the disticntion? Is an eventual written body of works a necessary element for the definition of an "ethnic culture"?
  • Are there any ethnic groups living across different countries and tending to unification? Has there been anything similar in history?
  • ... please, add...

I am afraid that in your definition,

An ethnic group is a group of people who identifiy with one another, or are so identified by others, on the basis of either presumed cultural or biological similarities, or both

we miss a basic scholar distinction between ethnology and anthropology: ethnology necessarily considers humanist themes such as history or culture, as fundamental carachters of the study, while anthropology doesn't. Still, it is argued (I hope I can add names, one day) that race is the biological platform above described. This platform, when alone, when not linked to eventual social, historical or cultural elements, is the object of antropology. Also, similarities are not presumed. They are, they have to be scientifically verifiable. As soon as we find a consensus about what is an ethnic group.

But: are we talking about the so-called "ethno-type", as (not unanimously) defined by ethnologists?

As I said before, I think that the concept of ethnic group is prevalently used with reference to political issues. So, it is not a matter of ethnicity, for which we already have an article to expand (which might regard ancient topics too), but we are talking - to be concrete - about people who feel they have common values and cultures needing to be protected from annihilation by stronger cultural entities, usually the states in which they live.

BTW, please, let's keep it clear that folklore and traditions quite generally are described as different things.

Thank you for your comments :-) --G


I am still not sure I understand you. There are some questions I have concerning your musings:

Now, we are not looking for a dubbed definition to be used in all the related articles, we want instead a precise definition of an "ethnic group";

I do not know what a "dubbed definition" is. I do think the defintiion I put in the first sentence is accurate. Perhaps more accurate than precise, but I think that is a good thing. There is much debate over what ethnic groups are and how they operate, and ethnic groups around the world make different claims for themselves. Any good definition that opens an encyclopedia article must be somewhat general. Then the article can review debates over the meaning of the term, and provide different examples of its use.

Names: apart from the fact that for personal problems I can't attach a bibliography I once had (but someone, hopefully, will add it to the concepts), I wouldn't stop to the authors of singular claims because the concept of ethnic group is more political than ethnological or phylosophical,

I disagree with your larger point. Yes, you are correct that ethnic groups are particular and political. But the study of ethnic groups -- which is precisely what an article in an encyclopedia is part of -- involves scholarly research and debate. There are different sides to these debates, and those sides should be cited and named.

I believe that if we quote: I have a dream that my [four] children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, this is exactly what today African and Asian and Chinese people in Italy do think in 2002, not only what the (hopefully) famous author said in 1963 in the United States, in a different context.

I agree with you that this sentiment reflects one attitude towards social justice. I am not sure how it relates to ethnic identity, since King did not mean that "race" didn't matter. But you see, this is my point: what King meant, how it was understood when he said it, and how other people use the phrase today is not evident. There continues to be much research and debate over these things and a good encyclopedia article must educate people about these debates. What is your interpretation of this sentence? What is your evidence that this is how African and Asian (which includes Chinese) people in Italy interpret the sentence? What is your evidence that African and Asian people in Italy share the sentiment (as interpreted)? What research has been done on this?

To be as neutral as possible, I would avoid recalling specific positions (immediately recognizable by eventual names) because we could risk to (in good faith) imply political prejudicial considerations in our vision.

Again, I disagree with you. Accuracy demands that we be clear about specific positions. NPOV does not mean that specific positions are not listed; it means that NO position is presented as having unquestioned authority if that position reflexts a particular context and is only one position among many. NPOV is guaranteed when different specific positions are provided, and the context for these positions made clear.

So, I just wanted to reflect together over these points:
  • Which are the elements that identify an ethnic group, in presence of what elements we can say we are in front of an ethnic group?

There is continuing debate over this question and I do not believe that there is any consensus.

  • Is biological race a necessary element?


  • Is the belonging to an ethnic group intentional, or is it a mechanical unwanted condition?

it is negotiated

Can the individual abandon the group, and: if yes how, if not why?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no; why is a good question that people continue to research; there is no clear answer.

  • Is there a pride of appartenance to an ethnic group?

I do not know what "appartenance" means, and it is inot in my dictionary. But obviously many people are proud of their ethnicity, and there are plenty of people who are ashamed.

  • The autonomous claim for respect by the ethnic group, is it an element we should consider as an identifying factor,

What do you mean? Are you asking whether a group must demand respect for it to be "ethnic?" I can think of many examples where this is not the case.

or could we externally define a given human aggregation as an ethnic group, despite their eventual passivity on the point? Is it by chance a social-conflict alert?

Again, I am not sure what you mean? What do you mean "externally define?" What do you mean by "eventual passivity?"

  • What makes an ethnic group different from a nation?

I thought my revision of the article made this clear.

  • Is an ethnic group minoritarian by definition?

I believe yes, and one can infer this from the article -- but I do not think it is a necessary part of the definition and it is better if people infer it; I am sure there are some exceptions and some debate over this.

This is just plain wrong. The Sinhalese are the majority group in Sri Lanka, and they perceive themselves (and are perceived by others) to be an ethnic group.Bryan 22:42, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
  • How dominant groups deal with minor ethnic groups?

Given that this is an issue in almost every country, and that there are at least 50-200 years of history for any given example, the answer to this question could take up thousands of pages. But I do think the second paragraph of the article provides a good basic answer to this question.

  • Which are the respective interests in play?

"in play" in what?

  • How dominant and minoritarian groups respectively act to achieve respective goals?

Again, a good qquestion but the answer would take years to compile, given all the current research.

  • Which are the fields in which more commonly an ethnic group feels to be compressed in its "natural" vision? Economy? Religion? Justice? ...?

I do not know what you mean by "compressed," nor do I understand "natural vision"

I am afraid that in your definition,
An ethnic group is a group of people who identifiy with one another, or are so identified by others, on the basis of either presumed cultural or biological similarities, or both
we miss a basic scholar distinction between ethnology and anthropology: ethnology necessarily considers humanist themes such as history or culture, as fundamental carachters of the study, while anthropology doesn't.

Sorry, but you are just wrong. Anthropology considers biological, environmental, historical and cultural factors.

Still, it is argued (I hope I can add names, one day) that race is the biological platform above described.

You need to read the article on race, friend.

"Race" matters when people believe that it matters.Bryan 22:42, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
This platform, when alone, when not linked to eventual social, historical or cultural elements, is the object of antropology.

no, not at all, not by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe you need to read the article on anthropology.Slrubenstein

I think he's talking about 19th century anthropology! Bryan 22:42, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

- -

Maybe my English is not fluent enough to let me express correctly. I therefore deeply thank you for allowing me an attempt of explaination. Unfortunately, my vocabulary too, recently went "wet" with my bibliotheque, so I have to ask for readers' patience as I only can use my memory, which is as much efficient as an aged man's one can be...

I need to start from the end of your reply. I had little time and little sources available to check now (I read Wiki articles), but perhaps I found something that could - I hope - explain our "distances". And it is something about... naming, or classification, or science. Or about a cultural bias of mine.

In our academical system, in fact, anthropology and ethnology were once classified (let's say, up to the 1960s, when I first met these matters) this way (loose translation from a reputed UTET encyclopedic dictionary - please forgive my eventual mistakes):

  • Anthropology: biological science which studies morphological, physiological, patological carachters of all the Peoples on the Earth, either estinct or existing ones, their division in [human] races (the belonging to each being established on the basis of somatic criteria), as well as their relationships with other animal species. (...)
  • Ethnology: historical science which studies the current human culture, with particular regard to peoples without literature (= peoples with only oral communication forms). (...)

In the rest of the two articles, I also found what - you'll have already noticed - makes the difference: Anglo-American classification puts anthropology (if I correctly understood) at the center of the group of disciplines that study peoples (perhaps as later indicated by Lévi-Strauss), and includes what above indicated as the ethnology's field. I also read that Italy and Germany followed the above mentioned classification, as defined by French scientists.

Moreover, I took an on-line tour of current Italian university courses, and I found that, here too, the old classification has been quite generally re-modeled, following the Anglo-American scheme. So we now have a "cultural anthropology" which seems (at a first sight) having replaced the old ethnology, which now is in turn more focused on those topics (like museal activity) which once were object of the ethnography. At the same time, what we once simply called "anthropology" is now "physical anthropology" (biological and genetical), and doesn't seem to be object of similar consideration. But I realise that there is a certain confusion, indeed, and the programs of the courses are extremely different too, among each other. The Web is not a scientific source, but I have seen that all these new definitions (Italian websites) are more or less no earlier than of the 1980s.

When I was studying law, many years ago, I directly met criminal anthropology, which was a (already discussed) discipline which studied (or was perhaps looking for) a sort of genetic, racial, and even physiognomic cause for criminality; these theories had a certain success in the 19th century (Niceforo, Lombroso), especially those about physiognomic elements (ugly people, I would summarize, would tendencially be criminals). In modern times, these theories are quite generally considered obsolete, also because the causes of crime are now described by more solid arguments. And even the few remnant elements are now attributed to ethnological fields (in the quoted sense), if appropriate. It is because of these discipline that the first time I was in Sardinia (an island in which the average racial somatic element was surprisingly coincident with Lombroso's typical criminal description), realising that much of theose theories were somehow visionary, I developed instead my long-lasting interests for the local culture and history, for their language, heritage, traditions. But I always had in mind that anthropology and ethnology respectively were what in the reported descriptions. And I felt I was somehow fascinated by ethnology, at least about Sardinians, that - BTW - I do believe are an ethnic group.

So, I hope this can explain the difference between our two positions. On my side, I'm very sorry for my partial vision (but I'm also very glad that the discussion brought me to enlarge it a little :-) and I would be honoured if you would kindly let me translate again my points with a more comprehensible terminology.

About the dubbed definition, I was trying to say that we needed to distinctly describe what an "ethnic group" is, and not to use a definition that could be similarly copied in other articles like ethnicity: if we only say that an ethnic group is made of people who share an ethnicity, we don't take into account that this is currently a political issue in many countries (if not in most). It is now important also because many countries are forced to reflect upon these presences, and this locally (but frequently) implies social feelings which have to be translated into political and legal acts, sometimes with international accessory decisions. You seem to agree that an ethnic group is minoritarian by definition, so it is naturally opposed (when conflicting) to a state-like entity. If possible, I would also add which interest are involved. In a word, I wouldn't refer to anthropology only.

About names, if you agree that the topic is potentially more political than other, we'd have to quote political leaders more often than scientists. More politics, I'm afraid, than scholarly research and debate. I am not against quoting politicians, really, but I believe that it could be better to avoid it. If - let's suppose - I name Mr. Arafat (just to make a name), and I say (this is only an unverified simple example): Mr. Arafat, in an official speech at the UNO, said that every people has the right to its territory, which he could have really said, even if perhaps inside a more specific and wide argument, I cannot later add: Corsican leader Mr. Soandso said the same, or Kurd leader Mr. Whoknowswho claims for the same objectives, even if effectively they said exactly the same. This would in fact create a sort of similarity that would be too generic to be attributed to single names, yet it is indeed a common element in those realities. And we could also risk to istinctively "paint" the citation with Arafat's (or any other leader's) colours, as if all the mentioned conflicts were connected by some undecipherable relationship. What they really share is instead the concept that is inside the assertions, and this is what I would include in the article. Couldn't we just quote this, or better: couldn't we just summarize this, avoiding to enter into endless descriptions, as you yourself said?

This is also about MLK's dream: I made that example only to underline that the same concepts, when extracted from their original context, can still be used by other people in other contexts. I wouldn't swear that each Chinese in Italy would repeat that sentence having in his mind the American racial conflict; yet, he would repeat it with completeness of sense, he would really have that same dream. So: MLK's sentence would be perfectly suitable to describe their condition too, and as such it was useful even if anonymous. But, as the sentence's author was clearly identifiable, you answered me talking about him... ;-) What if I had summarized the concepts in the - anonymous - sentence: Some positions envision an ideal society in which each man should be evaluated by his own character and not judged by racial elements?

Now, we are a tolerant country indeed, so the problem is really not so crucial here, I made this hypothetical example in order to avoid eventually offending anyone else. BTW, I obviously know that China is in Asia, but Chinese people are (I believe) the perhaps most distinguished ethnic group inside our territory and this caused me... an instinctive specification.

I don't believe we need here to make the history of each conflict, of each group, of each leader, of each position. When you say that it would take us thousands of pages, and years, I completely agree, of course. This is why I'd vote for synthesis, a necessary resource for us on this topic. Let's sort out the essential concepts and we will have an already complete article (there could be a lot to write, indeed, even if writing only a line per position), far from being at risk of ideological complications. This, besides, is quite a real-time topic, and it could cause politically influenced edit-wars.

Still, we could properly indicate that in some cases there are positions which propose something, and other positions which reply something else. Wouldn't we be educating people about these debates, just the same?

My list of questions obviously wasn't a form, even if, if this can help, we could also eventually collect arguments this way. But however it is not a poll. It was perhaps a list of starting points, if you agree that these can be developed in the perspective of a complete article.

My impression is that you believe that nothing can be concretely obtained because there is no consensus, arguments are potentially endless, there would be too much to work on. But there are many other articles, on similarly complicated topics, which have already been developed in Wikipedia. Maybe little by little, maybe after long debates, but there they are. I do believe we can do it here too, and I also hope that we can ask for your help :-) --G

Added paragraph on ethnic groups in Mexico

I hope this paragraph clarifies the concept of "ethnic group" a bit more.

--Lupitaº 21:15, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Big huge line o'code...

Is this a quote, or can it be removed? It's really rather irritating...


What's the deal with the link to Westphalia?? --Cotoco 08:19:21, 2005-09-04 (UTC)

Is the definition too broad?

I think the previous definition of ethnic group is way too broadly-drawn. It is so broad that it would include subcultures, as well as people of the same eye or hair color, or lefties, short people, Freemasons, the deaf, or people who studder. I've edited the article to include the following, slightly different definition:

"An ethnic group is a culture or subculture whose members are readily distinguishable by outsiders based on traits originating from a common racial, national, linguistic, or religious source."

Comments? COGDEN 19:56, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Which definition is right? Both!

As this discussion so clearly shows, there's a basic division between (1) those who describe ethnic groups as entities that can be scientifically described by outsiders on the basis of certain types of cultural indices ("race," language, history, etc.) and (2) those who reject such definitions and insist that an ethnic groups exist only when their members believe themselves to be a group. Perhaps people could do a little homework before we proceed? There is a fine, readable introduction to the subject in "Thematic Introduction", International Journal on Multicultural Societies (IJMS), Vol. 4, No.1, 2002: 1 - 2. This article pretty much sums up the state of the art on this subject. Bryan 22:42, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

Fraction of Ethnicity

OK, I have a cousin whose mother is full English, and whose father is three quarters Canadian and a quarter Irish (his paternal grandfather was full Irish). We've been trying to work out her own 'fractions of ethnicity'. As far as what I can come up with, she is an eighth Irish, seven eighths Canadian, and half English. I'm pretty sure that her fraction of Canadian is not right (because this would work out that she has more Canadian blood than English, which is false). What is her fraction of Canadian (and show me how you worked this out)?

I'd be very grateful.

Thanks a million.

You are not talking about ethnicity. "Canada" is a country, and youare saying that your cousin has or had three great-grandparents who were Canadian. That is all this means. What ethnic group your cousin belongs to depends on how people treat your cousin and with whom your cousin socializes, and how your cousin, his or her friends and associates, and other people identify your cousin. What country three of his or her grat-grandparents come from is not going to answer that question. Slrubenstein | [[User talk:Slrubenstein|Talk]] 21:36, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
Hi. Sorry, maybe I didn't word this correctly. I'm not talking about ethnic groups. My cousin has one Irish great-grandparent and one Canadian great-grandparent (paternally) and two English great-grandparents (maternally). I know that this makes her half English and an eighth Irish by blood, so what fraction Canadian is she?

Thanks again.


I do not believe that Canadian citizenship is divisible. I do not believe that Canadian law allows one to be 1/8 citizen or 1/2 citizen or any other fraction. You are either a citizen or you are not. By the way, you are using "blood" metaphorically — fine for poetry, but not ver useful for anything else. There is no such thing as "Canadian blood." Slrubenstein | [[User talk:Slrubenstein|Talk]] 14:27, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

--- You don't understand! I'm not talking about citizenship, I just wanted to know what fraction Canadian my cousin is! It doesn't matter anyway, because I've found out the answer. She is 1/2 (50%) English, 3/8 (37.5%) Canadian, and 1/8 (12.5%) Irish.

Leon, with all due respect, you do not understand my point. What does it mean to say a person is 12.5% "Irish?" A person consists of matter and consciousness. Are you saying 12.5% of her thoughts are Irish? Or are you saying 12.5% of her body weight is "Irish?" Which 12.5%? Her left leg? Her right arm? Do you mean 12.5% of her blood is "Irish?" If you took a pint of her blood an looked at it under a microscope, how could you tell which corpuscles are Irish or Canadian? Or do you mean 12.5% of her genes are "Irish?" If you think that, then I must tell you again will all due resepct that you do not understand genetics and I would urge you to read the articles on Gene and race. I hope it is now clear to you that my point is this: you are using ethnic identity metaphorically, but asking a question that is literal. You say that by "Canadian" you do not mean "Canadian citizenship." Okay, I get that. But what then do you mean? You are talking as if (1) "Canadian" is a real thing and (2) everyone knows what that thing is. I must tell you that 2 is demonstrably wrong and that most people would argue that 1 is wrong too. When someone says "that person is Canadian" and they mean that she is either a Canadian citizen or was born in Canada, that makes perfect sense to me. But neither of those two things can be quantified. You are writing as if "Canadian" refers to something that can be quantified, and I am asking you what that can possible be, because only material things can be quantified. What matterial thing are you referring to when you say "Canadian?" Slrubenstein | Talk 00:55, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

I spoke to my cousin's father a few days ago, and he told me that his maternal grandmother was French-Canadian, and his grandfather Irish, and both of his paternal grandparents were Irish. He is married to and has a child with a full-English woman. Through this, this makes their daughter (my cousin) half (50%) English, an eighth (12.5%) French-Canadian, and three eighths (37.5%) Irish. I'm not saying that a part of her arm, head, stomach, or any other body part is a certain fraction or percentage of one of those ethnicities. It's her herself. It's what makes up her ethnic make-up. I have an English mother and a Greek-Cypriot father, thus I am half (50%) English and half (50%) Cypriot.

Now, you could call my cousin a (Canadian-) French-Canadian-Irish-English person, or a Canadian-born French-Canadian-Irish-English person/Canadian-born person of French-Canadian, Irish, and English extract, or perhaps a French-Canadian-Irish-English person from Canada, just as I am perhaps an English-born person of half Cypriot extract, an English-Cypriot (from England) etc. The list could go on for quite some time.

To be a citizen of a certain country or constituency (as I am a citizen of Great Britain and my cousin of Canada) doesn't make your ethnicity or ethnic make-up change to that particular country, does it? Let's imagine that a boy is born in Norway to a German father and a Polish mother. That child may grow up being a citizen of Norway, considering himself Norwegian (and nothing else), but this doesn't make him in any way Norwegian. He is Norwegian-born, a citizen of Norway, a Polish-German (or Polish-German-Norwegian), but not Norwegian.

The term 'blood' is always used metaphorically in this case, and either you are not fluent in English, or perhaps may not have heard this usage. In these cases, it means 'genetic make-up', 'ethnic make-up' and so on, i.e., I could be called half English or half Cypriot by blood.

How about Tiger Woods, the famous American-born golfer of various different ethnicities? He was born in the USA to a Native American-Indian-Chinese-Black father, and a Thai-Chinese-Dutch mother. He is not American at all (well, he is if you consider Native American-Indian to be American, but that's another thing and let's avoid that in this post). He is American-born, and perhaps a citizen of the US, but not American.


If you think that "blood" is being used as a metaphor for "genetics," then you simply do not understand genetics. There are NO Irish, Canadian, etc. genes. As to ancestry, why stop with your grandparents or great-grandparetns? Why not great-great-great grandparents? Logically, they are just as relevant, and if you do not have information about them the honest statement is that you do not know your ethnicty. But if you insist that ethnicity is a matter of ancestry, we are all Africans as all of our earliest ancestors came from Africa. The point is this: you are using the word "ethnicity" as a substitute for a very specific notion of "race" that developed in the US in the post-Civil War period. Scholars today reject both that understanding of race, and the way you use the word ethnicity. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:33, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Yes, you're right. Why stop at great-grandparents? Of course the list would go on forever, and I think that most people would consider themselves to be what their more recent generations are. For example, if my great-great-great-grandfather was African (and all the rest of my family was English), I don't think I would bother saying that I am 1/32 African. There is nothing fully known, but we believe that somewhere in my English family's generations there was a foreign ancestor (possibly Spanish or Portuguese; most of my English family have dark skin and look foreign). I would never say that I'm 1/64 Spanish/Portuguese or whatever would I? I consider myself half English and half Cypriot, that's it, just as my cousin considers herself Canadian, but is an Irish-French-Canadian-English.


the practice in teh US is self nomination. That is what the census now and for good reason. Fractionl representations are no longer viable or relevent. If you had four granparents from differnet backgrounds, it is you and only you that is able to assert you ethnicty, ancestry, etc based on either dominance during upbringing etc. DaveHM 21:30, 18 December 2005 (UTC)
The U.S. census asks the people to list their full background. People of four different backgrounds would list all four. That's the way it's done - the full and complete story, not just one group over the other. Vulturell 21:32, 18 December 2005 (UTC)
Wrong, and you obviously haven't seen a census or any of the data it compiles.
Stop your POV pusing. It is not somewhat POV --it is definatevely POV -- you contend your opinion counts more than the self ascription of ethincity of the person asked! wow. It is the 21st cetnruy not 1930's Europe.
You seem to be going all over wikipedia with YOUR OWN view concerning ancestry where apparetnly you have gotten in a number of disputes over this very issue. What is with this obsession with the idea of US persons being "1/4" an ancestry vs. 100%. It has long been utterly meaningless in the U.S. In the US ethnicity is self ascribed.
Look what you wrote here justifying your endless reverts and multiple mistatements on wikipedia of where US categries come from The U.S. census asks the people to list their full background. People of four different backgrounds would list all four. That's the way it's done - the full and complete story :::::::NO, it does no such thing and you have no background in this question.
It does not ask for four persons AT ALL. You are using this to make your own "less than 1/4 and you can't be" argument all over wikpedia. I am not saying it is intentional racism but you are using a racist Quadroon system repudiated quite some time ago.!DaveHM 21:20, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
Ummm.... hate to break it to you, but I've filled out the U.S. census. It asks a person to list their full ancestry, and something along the lines of "list as many (accurate) backgrounds as possible". It certainly does not ask a person to pick one group over the other. As for your accusations, I am frankly tired of listening to this crap and will just point you over to Wikipedia:No Personal Attacks. Vulturell 21:22, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
UM so yu filled it out without reading? interesting. Is this why you keep reversing what it says?
I did not say it ask one to pick one group over anoher, that is your method what you seem to be enforcing on wikipedia.
You filled out four ancestors? really? How did you fit them in the two spaces?
Next time read the form: Ancestry refers to a person’s ethnic origin or descent, "roots," or heritage, or the place of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States

Ancestry refers to a person’s ethnic origin or descent, "roots," or heritage, or the place of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States

Huh? The census has something like ten spaces in it (I think it may have been more than that). It asked me to fill out as many ethnic groups as I had. So if I was just Irish I would've put "Irish". If I'm Italian, Irish, Scottish, Jewish, and French I would've put those 5 in. The U.S. census certainly does not go around searching for "Greek" as one of 10 groups of a person, pick out "Greek" and call that person a "Greek American", ignoring their other ancestry. Vulturell 21:38, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
1) So we know you have not filled out a census or read one -- or ever read teh huge body of statistical anysis and explanation as well.
ancestry has only two spaces in it.
2) you said: The U.S. census certainly does not go around searching for "Greek"
LOL that is exactly what it does in compiling the figrues that lead [all] the r4eleven t wikipedia articels you keep reverting and arguing on! the Irish American, German American, Greek Ameriacan scotish etc are exactly that.. this is why keep reverting and arguing with everyone on those pages.
the thing is you seem focused on your defintions. thre is no such thing as the terms you use "100%" "1/4" when it comes to the cencus or the way sociologists or the census or most people self nominate.
Two spaces? Are you kidding? I only keep reverting and arguing with you, because you don't seem to understand that it's taking a POV in categorizing someone with a Greek grandfather as a "Greek-American" without explaining that they are only "Greek-American" on their grandfather's side. This discussion is tired and pointless, and you are using terms, references, etc. in ways that they do not really apply. There is no logical reason for changing either the Greek American article or DiScala. They are more correct and complete the way they are now, and that is an encyclopedia's aim, to present the full facts whenever possible. Vulturell 22:02, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

Two space exacltly. you could scribble more on thesides but it is not compiled when the cenus buerua issues its sttistics on how many Amiercians of Irish ancestry or ehtnicity. Have you been looking at a census form from 1900 alabama with quadroons? that garbage was thrown out a long time ago.
we estabished you did not look at the census long or short form on ancestry. you are imagining what is
this discussion came about becasue you insist a person's self ascription is invalid based on your model of what 100% or 1/4 is. this method was THROWN out in the US long ago. people self ascribe or self nominate on what they think wish to emphasize.
You have used your method to remove the self ascription of persons because the are "enough" of whatver catgegory even if they say they indentify.
We don't allow others to measure us by "1/4" in America. DaveHM 22:21, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
This discussion is so stupid and does not apply to anything relevant to the pages in dispute. I am telling you, that listing a person as a "Greek American" without explaining their full heritage is wrong. I am also telling you that putting it three different quotes by DiScala, all of which seem to contradict one another, is also wrong, not the least of which because we don't use quotes but rather put in the complete version of the story. Unless you are disputing the factual accuracy of the notices on either Greek Americans or DiScala, you have no argument with me. You seemed to believe the the version up on the DiScala (i.e. "Born to a Jewish father (whose parents were from Romania and Greece, respectively) and a Cuban mother") was factually correct, and yet you kept changing it to a confusing version. You have absolutely no clue as to what the people who are not "fully" Greek on the Greek Americans page consider themselves to be (or "Self-Identify" as), and neither do I. It is outright dumb and POV to assume that someone with a Greek grandfather automatically considers themselves to be Greek. You have no evidence as to their day-to-day identification, etc. etc. etc. I refuse to continue this, except for of course reverting your quest to remove the full and complete facts. Vulturell 22:25, 19 December 2005 (UTC)
No this arose from yor removal of Ms. Discala own quote on her idenity from her page. This was added for clarity. here is her exact qoute: I have no Italian in me. I’m Cuban, Greek, Romanian, and Sephardic Jew, so I couldn’t get further from Italian. But I guess I’ve been adopted into that family, too. [1]DaveHM 10:21, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

FYI [2] and [3] Slrubenstein | Talk 22:37, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

SLRebunstein my edits have to do with the US census work on ancestry. here is their criteria:

The data on ancestry were derived from answers to questionnaire item 12. The question was based on self-identification; the data on ancestry represent self-classification by people according to the ancestry group(s) with which they most closely identify. Ancestry refers to a person’s ethnic origin or descent, "roots," or heritage or the place of birth of the person or the person's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. [4]

you went to the 'race' section which is for compiling govenrmnt statistics on racial distribution, income by race, uesed in issues related to affrimative action, apportionemnt etc. the other section you noted is to incude if you are American indian or 'hispanic' which is a special unique desingation, placed there by law because of a set of unique issues. if you filled out 'Irish' there, the data would be thrown out.
I am clarifying the US methodology for ancestry groups, where hundreds of wikpedia pages on ethnicty in America use the anceastry desigation and numbers the census beurau compiles to the criteria I cited. I carified ethnicty it relative to 'ancestry'. There is a discussion on this page of race relative to ethnicity, so a line or two on ancestry relative to ethnicty, which are commonly used, rightly or wrongly together, helps with some clarity.DaveHM 10:10, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

FYI2: [5]DaveHM 10:15, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

Okay Dave, I wasn't taking one side or the other, just pointing out that we can cite the source. Of course, citing the 2000 US census raises the question: did the US census understand race and or ethnicity differently fifty years ago? A hundred? And what about other countries? I am not challenging anything you wrote, jusut laying out an agenda for improving the article that takes your comments as a jumping-off point, Slrubenstein | Talk 15:10, 21 December 2005 (UTC)

Ethnic groups by country categories

A naming convention proposal for ethnic groups by country categories has been made at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (categories)#Ethnic groups by country categories. Kurieeto 21:16, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

China does not classify her people into ethnic groups. The people are classified by nationalities, and it is this information that's on ID cards.

More rigourous definition

The present definition not backed by any citation, and, frankly, is not helpful.

An ethnic group is a culture or subculture whose members are readily distinguishable by outsiders based on traits originating from a common racial, national, linguistic, or religious source. Members of an ethnic group are often presumed to be culturally or genetically similar, although this is not in fact necessarily the case.

In other words, "an ethnic group is a group of people". Am I an ethnic group ? Are the people who work on this page an ethnic group ? Why not ? Rama 12:09, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

Furthermore, I have often seen religious as specifically excluded form the definition of "ethnic"... Rama 12:10, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

Fredrik Barth

Shouldn't the work of Fredrik Barth be included in this article? His work Ethnic Groups and Boundaries (1969) was rather grounbreaking in the field of anthropology. He argues that it is a misconception to view the culture-bearing aspect of ethnic groups as their primary characteristic. "The preoccupation with cultural traits and ethnic origins has been abandoned in the field of anthropology in recent years to be replaced by a stronger emphasis on inter-group relations and ethnic boundaries." "If members of an ethnic group don’t acknowledge their ethnic membership and don’t communicate it, the ethnic aspect ceases to be relevant in social interaction."

"In his introduction to Ethnic Groups and Boundaries, The Social Organisation of Culture Difference, Fredrik Barth outlines his approach to the study of ethnic groups, ‘First we give primary emphasis to the fact that ethnic groups are categories of ascription and identification by the actors themselves, and thus have the characteristic of organising interaction between people. We attempt to relate other characteristics of ethnic groups to this primary feature. Second,….(a)pply a generative viewpoint to the analysis: rather than working through a topology of forms of ethnic groups and relations, we attempt to explore the different processes that seem to be involved in generating and maintaining ethnic groups. Third, to observe these processes we shift the focus of investigation from internal constitution and history of separate groups to ethnic boundaries and boundary maintenance.’"

I think it should be included and have therefore rewritten nl:Etniciteit. But since I am less fluent in English I don't think I can write a section on this properly. Maartenvdbent 14:25, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

Barth and the debate on the creation of ethnicity

In response to the above, it should be pointed out there there are several fairly rigorous criticisms to be found of Barth's analysis on ethnicity, in particular his stringently 'relationist approach' - i.e. the emergence of ethnicity as the contrasting of a social group in a particular socio-economic 'niche' with those groups immediately (and more distantly) adjacent to it. Such a critique can be found in Bill Bravman's Making Ethnic Ways (Heinemann, 1998), for example.

Going beyond that, there is no real impression gained by reading the article that there is any debate within social science on the creation of ethnicity at all. It's not something that I have time to expand on now, but there is a wide variety of interpretations within the academic community and the historiography on ethnicity that is most germane to this subject.

I would put this under the above sub-heading, but it's more aimed at stimulating debate on the latter point (i.e. creation of ethnicity) than the former.--Benwilson528 20:54, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

Barth continues to be very important at least in anthropology so he should remain prominent in the article. That said, the article should cover the range of scholarly views and provide fair accounts of ongoing debates among social scientists. So if you have ideas about how to do that, by all means, go ahead and add. I just urge you to add - other views, larger contexts - and not delete content, and adhere carefully to our NPOV policy. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:49, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

Compare and contrast with similar terms??

Can we get a section on here that clearly discusses the differences, similarities and lines that distinguish the following terms:

Ethnicity VS:

  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Heritage
  • Culture

These terms are often confused by people.

I second this request for further clarification. As accessed on 31Jul07, the introductory line for "Ethnic group" begins: "An ethnic group or ethnicity is a population of human beings whose members identify with each other, either on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry, or recognition by others as a distinct group, or by common cultural, linguistic, religious, or territorial traits." This definition seems to confound ethnicity too much with culture. For example, people who identify as gay or lesbian could be considered an ethnic group based on a shared identification and recognition by others as a distinct group. This definition seems too broad given that, for example, the term "sexual minority" is used as a distinct analog to "ethnic minority." The Deaf community is another example that I (mistakenly?) think of as more of a culture than an ethnic group. Implicitly, it seems like a territorial or ancestral connection is more necessary for classification as an "ethnic group"--that common culture and identity aren't sufficient. Tophfoo 19:38, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Origin of the term

In 1935, in response to more extreme incarnations of eugenics (especially nazism), Julian Huxley and A. C. Haddon published We Europeans: A Survey of 'Racial' Problems, in which they suggested race--a biological term--was being misapplied in sociological/anthropological aspects, and suggested "ethnic group" be substituted for those groups that share culture, but not neccesarily biology (I haven't read it, but this is the impression I get from Huxley 1970 and Kevles 1985). Did Huxley and Haddon coin the term themselves, or was it in use before 1935? If they were the original source of the term this should be mentioned in the article. Joe D (t) 03:50, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Anthropologists were using the word "ethnic" by the late 1880s/1890s, to refer to a nation or tribe. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:31, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Name Question

Is there a name for the human species aside from "human" and "homo sapiens"? --myselfalso 01:55, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

The full taxonomic name is homo sapiens sapiens. The first "spaines" is the species designation, the second "sapiens" is the RACIAL designation (race=sub-species).Tmangray 16:45, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

no, it is not. Slrubenstein | Talk 09:57, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

Note to Slrubenstein...Okay, smart guy. If "it is not" then what is it? It's easy to make a statement and not back it up. Give us the answer and earn yourself some credibility.

Don't be obnoxious. And I have no need to "earn" credibility. But, I was unclear. Yes, the full taxonomic name is Homo sapiens sapiens, this is true. The second sapiens is not a racial designation, that is all. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:40, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

What is this?

What bull is this? "Thus, the parralles that can be drawn from the ethno construct of an activly crontructed nationhood can be miscontrewed as nothing more then delarcoix" Jasper 14:30, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Besides the obvious spelling errors, it's just someone trying to sound smart. I think it simply means that the view of ethnic groups as being definite is flawed as shown by the difficulties that have arisen in trying to classify people by ethnicity. -Archon Wing 23:41, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
I've removed it rather than try to make sense from it. All the words make sense, but it's almost as if the sentence belongs somewhere else. -- zzuuzz (talk) 00:22, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

From SwordofOdin


I'm aware that the topic of "ethnicity" is controversial if not entirely shunned, especially in the USA, but I have produced a map showing the distribution of META ethnic groups throughout the world. I have never added an image to an ongoing article, so I was hoping people could tell me both how to add this to the side and also if it would be acceptable. Please be kind.


Again, it refers to meta groups, that is, the umbrella ethnicity, so using above discussion as an example, Sri Lankans (Sinhalese) may be a different ethnic group, but they are closely related to the Indic peoples, and this map does not discern the two.

Firstly, if I have made a mistake, let me know. Second, it is difficult to note sources for this map's content (are they even necessary?) but correspondence with other relevant Wikipedia articles as I have seen do not reject the map's claims.

It seems that if the "ethnicity" article isn't simply trying to dispel the idea of ethnicity or race as a whole that this map would be a very helpful and educational resource, at least for cultural anthropology studies and ethnic trends.

The map is goodlooking but not informative. Firstly ethnicity is no loger sen as racial or cultural roots - the unsigned comments explain well how you can learn more about modernday dfinitions of ethnicity. Secondly a map showing majority groups only is less than informative. Thirdly it is completely eurocentric - the different european peoples are much closer related than the chines and the mongols or the inca and the maya or "the africans" all of which are lumped together without comment. Thirdly claiming that the french are gauls and the irish celts and the spanish iberian are iberian (but weirdly american spanish spakers are hispanic??) are only mistaking historical artefacts for modernday ethnicities - do you know any french person who would self identify as a gaul?. Simply the map doesn't seem to know what it wants o show - the actual distribution or the historical distribution of "peoples". It fails to discern between large level modern and historical groups outside of europe while it discerns between lowlevel historical groups inside of europe. What it wants to show is not well defined and so the mapis not helpful I am afraid. Maunus 10:08, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Replying to SwordofOdin... you map would have been accepted by mainstream european scientists probably up to the late 20th century, however it is now outdated. I will point out one obvious problem. You depict Europe as consisting of numerous different etnicities yest Africa, which is many times it's size, appears under one ethnic label. And you should read more literature by people like Barth, Sian Jones, Jonathon Hall who all point out that cultural traits do not in fact ocnstitute ethnicity. Ethnicity is best summarised as a non-biological social group of individuals who have a SENSE of common descent, history and territory. The borders of this group can be dynamic and changing, not monolithic as the Hispanic, Arabic, etc labels you show on your map. I hope this is of some help. On a subject like this it's crucial that we know what we define what we're talking about.

deleted NOR/NPOV violation

I do not know whose view this is:

From an objective standpoint, an ethnic group is also an endogamous population, that is, members of an ethnic group procreate primarily with other members of their ethnic group, something which is measurable in terms of characteristic average genetic frequencies. The characteristic of endogamy is reinforced by proximity, cultural familiarity, and also social pressure (in extreme cases, by legal command) to procreate within the ethnic group.

but I know that it is not the view of any major scholar on ethnicity, and it appeared without a verifiable source. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:20, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

New Assessment Criteria for Ethnic Groups articles


WikiProject Ethnic groups has added new assessment criteria for Ethnic Groups articles.

Your article has automatically been given class=stub and reassess=yes ratings. [corrected text: --Ling.Nut 22:56, 16 October 2006 (UTC)] Don't be alarmed if this article is actually far more than a stub -- at least in the beginning, all unassessed articles are being automatically assigned to these values.

-->How to assess articles

Revisions of assessment ratings can be made by assigning an appropriate value via the class parameter in the WikiProject Ethnic groups project banner {{Ethnic groups}} that is currently placed at the top of Ethnic groups articles' talk pages. Quality assessment guidelines are at the Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team's assessment system page.

Please see the Project's article rating and assessment scheme for more information and the details and criteria for each rating value. A brief version can be found at Template talk:Ethnic groups. You can also enquire at the Ethnic groups Project's main discussion board for assistance.

Another way to help out that could be an enjoyable pastime is to visit Category:WikiProject Ethnic groups, find an interesting-looking article to read, and carefully assess it following those guidelines.

--Ling.Nut 03:09, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

Meaning of "Ethnic"

Well last friday, my father told me that the word "Ethnic" means Heevan. Many others agree to this term.Keenrich 01:07, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Ethnicity what is that?


The concept of ethnicity is basically different peoples backgrounds. How can it be right to divided people into different groups? Aren’t we all the same race which is homo sapiens? My opinion is that we are! For people to punish one for where they come from, or how they look is wrong. We are all the same people, we just have different physiological difference. Like skin color, hair color etc. but we can’t all look the same, so why is it wrong in some peoples eyes to be for example black. They are just like us but has another color on their skin nothing else or? Racism is something that has existed in our world for a very long time, and I think that it is the lack of knowledge that leads to this discrimination of people. In the movie Crash, we had people that was use of being miss treated in the society, and those who thought that they did the right thing by treating people from another country like they were below the status of them self. Those who in general people have prejudice against, belongs to the minority groups. They are like the underdogs of the society. The minority groups consists of those who aren’t white in the countries Europe, USA and Great Britain. Like in Europe and USA people that isn’t white live with prejudice’s every day. Afro American people which lives in USA, are one of them who will encounter prejudice’s and discrimination every day of their life. For a black person to not get a job that is available because of their name or background, which is later given to a white person is bullshit. Why have jobs at all when their aren’t available for certain people. Like black peoples, Latin American people etc. The majority group sadly almost to 100% is white people in country like Europe, USA and Great Britain. Of course this isn’t the case in all countries, but in these countries this is a problem in my eyes. For people to not accept other human beings in their country in their world is sick, white people aren’t the only ones on this planet.

Racial difference, therefore should be understood as physical variations singled out by members of a community or society as socially signification. Differences in skin color, for example are treated as significant, whereas differences in color of hair are not. Racism is prejudice based on socially significant physical distinctions. A racist is someone who believes that some individuals are superiors or inferior to others as a result of these racial differences. Prejudice refers to opinions or attitudes held by members of one group towards another. A prejudiced person’s preconceived views are often based on hearsay rather then one direct facts. Every one has some kinds of prejudice towards another person. Someone who is prejudiced against a particular groups will refuse to give it a fair hearing. This is what I meant with people that don’t have the knowledge about those people that they have prejudice against. For a person to grow up with people that dislikes black people for no other reason that they think they are criminals and steel thing from them, often sadly has that effect that they will grow up and have the same prejudiced like his/hers parents. It becomes a bad cycle. Discrimination refers to actual behavior towards the other group. It can be seen in activities that disqualify members of one group from opportunities open to others, as when a black people are refused a job which is given to a white person. I with my own words would describe discrimination like the act of prejudiced, If people have a prejudice that for example that black people are criminals and there is a job offered which is to help out in a store. Then if that chef doesn’t give the job to a black person because he thinks that he would steel or miss behave, then later gives the job to a white person, he discriminates the black person. It know that I have taken this example a lot but it’s a good example.

Rafa-Rafa, showed me how hard it is to come it to a society when you don’t understand the language. When you then try to learn the language people are always discriminates you, for not knowing have to communicate like them who is born in that country. Even though it was just a game it taught me a lot. I have a new understanding of how hard it must be for immigrants. Thou I never have had anything against them because I know so many, I have even moiré respect for them. For immigrants to learn our language if very impressive, They live in our country mostly because they couldn’t stay in their home country, so way not help them instead of disrespect them and discriminate them? I really cant see way or how that makes anything better. Learn from each other like they learn from us. In to day society I get the feeling that people thinks they could walk over immigrants a way they never would have done with they “own kind”. Like in the movie Crash, when the officer sexually abuses that black woman, because she and her husband was black. He thought that he could do what ever to them, with out consequences. That officer probably felt that he would never trust a black person because in his eyes he were better then all of them. Then in the movie Crash we also have the officer Ria who is being seen as a Mexican (which a lot of people think are unreliable and criminals, because the situation in Mexico. Which is that there is a high crimes level there and people are pore so that just make is more stones on a mountain. ) But she is not, she is from both Portugal and El Salvador which is not even near of being a Mexican. But still people didn’t see a problem calling her a Mexican. This whole movie is about racism, discriminations and prejudice. Those concepts are different from person to person but I have told you mine.

You are all seen in a different way depending on which ethnic group you are in. But that changes from person to person also. With that I mean some black people doesn’t live with the same discriminations that other black people do. I think it’s all about money. If you are a high ranking person with money your skin color doesn’t matter, the same as if you are one of many people that has low paying job. With money comes power that every one could have. That shouldn’t be the case, you shouldn’t haft to have money to be accepted in the society. Personally of course I have prejudice against some persons, But I cant say that I hate certain persons, like if I would to hate Jews like the Nazis. That kind of hate is not right, How can some say that they are the “perfect” race of humans, when there are so many others, And just to claim that Jews are the wrong people along with homosexual persons which was their objectives of hate. How? That is a question I have sad to my self but never got an answer. Do you know it, then tell me?

To band together different ethnic groups should be a target for every country in the world. If countries that allows immigrants try to learn about their culture like they learn ours by living in our country, people would have another kind of respect for each other. Maybe they don’t live by our religion if they are Muslims, but they learn our language so why not talk to them? Of course people talk to them, but they also excludes them from being a part of the society. So What can you say, this isn’t something that is going to go away just like that, but it shouldn’t increase. For the fact that we live in a multi culture society today, people should if you say try to accept that there aren’t just white people living her in Sweden, so those who cant accept that we are all the same people we are all made of the same god they can live by themselves and stay there, we don’t need you in our society.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

You've obviously misunderstood what this is all about. "Ethnicity" is a descriptive (hence not normative) term just like "people with hair on their heads". You have people with red, white, blond, brown and black hair - all belonging to the category of "people with hair on their heads". Now, where did I claim that red hair is superior to e.g. white hair?—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

I have 1½ Hispanic American friends

What are they called when they are oof half Spanish/Mexican heritage and the other half belongs to the Anglo-Saxon majority? -- Toefil Bartlomiej 19:47, 30 November 2006 (UTC) (for some reason there's an error in my signature - User:Teofil Bartlomiej

ethnicity and nation?

I'm a bit astonished about what I've read in the introduction of this article. In essence there'd be no distinction between a nation (which is defined by ethnic, cultural, linguistic religious etc. ties) and an ethnic group. That cannot be correct. Going just from memory from my college years (in this case anthropology, human geography and history classes) I recall ethnicity only regarded real or perceived descent of a group. I will try to look up my old books, assuming I can still find them, but this could be problematic. Just as an example, take a US citizen whose family originated in Germany, yet he doesn't speak the German language, his knowledge of "German" culture is also largely based on stereotypes. Neverless he styles himself German-American and if asked about ethnicity would consider himself German. Yet by this article's introduction this would be incorrect.--Caranorn 14:06, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I don't know how you gather that from the following sentence "An ethnic group is a human population whose members identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry (Smith, 1986)" If a Us citizen identifies with the german ethnic group then he is a member. If germans and Americans also identify him as ethnically german then that ethnic identity is strengthened. This is exactly what the lead paragraph says - and exactly why nationality and ethnicity are two completely distinct concepts. Maunus 14:52, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Maybe this is just my interpretation of the entire introduction,
An ethnic group is a human population whose members identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry (Smith, 1986). Recognition by others as a separate ethnic group, and a specific name for the group, also contribute to defining it. Ethnic groups are also usually united by certain common cultural (behavioural, linguistic and ritual or religious) traits. In this sense, an ethnic group is also a cultural community. Processes that result in the emergence of such a community are summarized as ethnogenesis.
I "bolded" the passage I refer to. Looking at it again I guess I indeed misinterpreted that sentence. Though maybe that sentence could be rephrased slightly, or moved out of the introduction.--Caranorn 15:55, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Both "ethnicity" and "nation" are social constructions; neither has a "true" or objective form. Unders some circumstances ethnic groups also identify as nations or make claims to nationhood. Nationhood generally is linked in some way to a state (i.e. members of a nation once belonged to a state, identify with citizens of another state (to which they may not currently belong) or claim the right to have a state (this is because nationalism and the idea of the nation developed first during the period of European creation of nation-states in the 17-1800s, and second during the post-colonial period in Africa and S. Asia when former colonies claimed the right to sovereignty. Ethnic groups generally do not claim the right to soveriegnty. But I am making generalizations - there are plenty of exceptions ... because there are no universal objective definitions. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:39, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

I added a bit on the possible overlap. In the German-American example, the question is whether Germans in Germany regard for instance Dwight Eisenhower as a ethnic German, or just as someone with German ancestors. Germans might, but not every ethnic group treats descendants of emigrants this way.Paul111 12:37, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

True enough - this varies from place to place and time to time. Just please, make sure you are complying with our WP:NOR policy and drawing on appropriate sources.Slrubenstein | Talk 12:47, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Social Capital Foundation

On excessive edits, possibly amounting to spamming, for The Social Capital Foundation and its founder Patrick Hunout, see User:SiobhanHansa/Checks on IP Paul111 12:37, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

The "Classification" section should be deleted

There are so many other interesting things to say about ethnic groups, and this is not an article on linguistics. This section should be deleted. FilipeS 15:11, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

I removed it (OR, no source), it is a list of language groups and the assertion that it is an ethnic classification is spurious.Paul111 10:47, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Race and appearance: moved definition here

I move this definition here. Although it is sourced, it is more than contestable that "race" can be recognized by external appearance, in particular with recent genetic researches. Some information may be found about that in the UNESCO 1950 statement The Race Question. Here is the removed passage:

“[Races] are populations that may be distinguished phenotypically (i.e. by appearance). 
 Races are not species; they are able to     interbreed, and are fertile when they do.” (Eysenck, 1971)

This article needs to be expanded. Tazmaniacs 18:42, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Incorrent redirection

Ethnos should have it's own page, the word is distinctly different from 'ethnic group' - there is certainly a number of things lost in the translation. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Nudas veritas (talkcontribs) 23:22, 24 April 2007 (UTC).

UK classification

I reverted the classification to the 'correct' National Statistics classification - no idea why someone added Asian Maldivean and so on... Jonesey

Ah - and somebody's changed it to something incorrect again without bothering to explain why. Ah well - the stupid you always have with you. Have undone revision. Jonesey

Quick to-do for someone

The Black dolls article is mostly orphaned. ColtsScore 20:58, 28 May 2007 (UTC)


FelipeS, it is disingenuous and silly to call my change "vandalism" and to keep reverting it just because you have a problem with social science approaches to race. When a sentence makes a claim and is followed by another sentence provising a reference, you can take it for granted that the first claim comes from the reference. but since you can't figure it out, I put in the references and put them in sentence by sentence to make it clear for you. My advice to you is: edit articles where you know something about the subject matter. Something. Anything. Just stop reverting good faith, well-informed edits by people who have done some real research. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:58, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

I moved out the long lists of ethnic groups for each country and some other details to the country specific pages. There are over three hundred countries, so putting in an entry for each one would be totally unwieldy. Instead, each country can have its own entry. So I also consolidated all the country ones into a single entry.

Consolidated country specific information and transfered to own articles

I consolidated all the country specific entries into a single one and transferred the lists of ethnicities and other details to the country specific pages (there are over 300 countries, so putting in an entry for each and listing their categories in the ethnicity page would become really prohibitive!). But I also put the links, so readers who want more info can go the specific pages. Alejandro.a 13:32, 21 July 2007 (UTC)


Many historians and anthropologists have questioned and/or rejected claims of continuity in ethnic identity. You do not ned to agree with them, but their's is a view that should be noted. You are welcome to add other views, but do not misrepresent this particular view. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:30, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Well in terms of most anthropologists, you would be disagreeing with the vast majortiy of them. Most recognize the massive continuity in various aspects over time of numerous peoples. In this particular case however, you are basing one researchers analysis of one tribal group in India on all ethnic groups and populations in general. I am also considering introducing a tag which expresses valid concerns over the accurate interprettion of soruces you have entered which can not easily be checked from the article. Epf 13:54, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

I found the excerpt from here and indeed you have entered the quote incorrectly in the article (which makes me wonder about other sources you have entered):

This is how the quote is entered in the text of the statement from [6]:

"National, religious, geographic, linguistic and cultural groups do not necessarily coincide with racial groups : and the cultural traits of such groups have no demonstrated genetic connexion with racial traits. Because serious errors of this kind are habitually committed when the term “ race ” is used in popular parlance, it would be better when speaking of human races to drop the term ” race ” altogether and speak of ethnic groups." The Race Question, UNESCO, entry # 6

Epf 14:02, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

I am glad you found the quote and note that it supports the earlier phrasing in the article: when they advocate dropping race in favor of ethnicity, it has to do with cases where people use race to refer to natonal, religious, geographic, linguistic, and cultural groups. These words are there in the paragraph. They are not calling for a wholesale abandonment of race for ethnicity, they are arguing it be replaced by ethnicity when referring to these dimensions of social groups. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:10, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

That is by no means what the entry is stating. You re-worded the entry to fit your own take on the matter rather than quoting it directly and accurately. It states "because serious errors of this kind are habitually committed when the term “ race ” is used in popular parlance, it would be better when speaking of human races to drop the term ” race ” altogether and speak of ethnic groups." I do not see how you can argue whatsoever that you entered the quote incorrectly. Epf 14:16, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

You seem to think I have some bias. All I want to do is avoid taking quotes out of context, and in this case the reason is an important part of the context. I have rewritten it quoting directly from the statement, so this should be clearer. I also corrected the definition of race - in this context they do not use the term "taxanomic category" but actualy give a more nuanced (and accurate) characterization of the biological dimenson. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:34, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

There is no evidence that it is being taken out of context, except in the way you re-word the quote to come across completely different. I entered the quote as is, word for word, like Wiki policy states. It is up to the reader to interpret the quote as is. It's meaning is different form how you wish to have it come across. Epf 14:50, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

In terms of Kinship and Descent and the common descent for ethnic groups, the link to the Kinship and Descent article more than explains it, hence why I am Wikifying "ancestry" (again as Wiki encourages, linking articles together). Epf 14:50, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Now that I hope we are over, at least the issue over the quotation. I have found the primary source you used for your statement about the recent invention of cultural practices. [7]
NB: this is not the primary source, it is not a primary source at all. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:56, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

It clearly states that "In a now classic book containing a theoretical introduction by Eric Hobsbawm and a selection of case-studies, six historians and anthropologists argued that traditions which appear or claim to be ancient can be quite recent in origin..."

They are not saying most traditions, they are only saying that some may (can) have been invented more recently. None of the sources are claiming "many" of the traditions, or anything about those which "they are based on". Enter the statement in the article as it is found in the source material and merely state that "traditions which appear to be ancient can be recent in origin", that is all you have to enter. No subjective words like "many" or "some", unless it is stated as is from the source. Epf 14:58, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

You are quoting a review of the book. I am referring to the book itself. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:56, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

"Kinship and descent is one of the major concepts of cultural anthropology. Cultures worldwide possess a wide range of systems of tracking kinship and descent. Anthropologists break these down into simple concepts which are common among many different cultures."

Examples of systems tracking Kinship and Descent:

Descent Group; The Nuclear FamilyLineages; Clans, Phratries and Moieties

All of these along with Kinship calculation (various genealogical resources) help to trace and claim the common descent of many ethnic groups. Epf 15:31, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

wrong. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:52, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

ok then.....Epf 16:07, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

I have also restored the words "many" and "of the values, practices, and norms that imply continuity with the past" because it is the word that the source uses (and in the latter case, more specific and precise). Slrubenstein | Talk 11:43, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I removed the Barth quote altogether and your POV argument there. I read the source material from Barth and its not arguing the inherent or fundamental aspects of ethnicity to human life. I do not understand what your point was here. The book's summary stated that it was mainly a focus on the interconnectedness of ethnic identities, with particular emphasis on the exclusiveness/inclusivess of membership.

Barth writes (p. 9): "[...] categorical ethnic distinctions do not depend on an absence of mobility, contact and information, but do entail social processes of exclusion and incorporation whereby discrete categories are maintained despite changing participation and membership in the course of individual life histories." Furthermore, Barth accentuates that group categories - i.e. ethnic labels - will most often endure even when individual members move across boundaries or share an identity with people in more than one group.

As for the quote from Weber, you added the POV subjective statement of 'many social scientists" accepting it as a definition. The refernce is only regarding the quotations of Weber, and clearly there are numerous different definitions for ethnic group across social anthropology which differ from Webers, my example from Statsics Canada and that of Ronald Cohen clearly showing this. Epf 12:41, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

You do not understand Barth. He opens up referring to those people who believe that people are inherently divided into ethnic groups. He argues that ethnic identity is not inherent in intergroup dynamics but is the function of a particular kind of boundary between groups. This boundary is not natureal or inevitable but exists under specific conditions. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:51, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

You are clearly arguing some POV against the inherent and importance of ethnic identification because he does not debate this whatsoever, but you do. He merely discusses inter-group dynamics and interconnectedness of identities. Please cease your attemtps to justify your OR and POV edits in the article, I'm not buying it. Epf 12:59, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

I do nto care whether you buy it or not. You are the one pushing a point of view, namely, that ethnic identification is inherent and important. I have never denied the existence of this view or deleted material from the article that supports it. But like it or not others hold an opposing view and that view must be included. You cannot delete notable views from Wikipedia because you do not like them. Barth does not merely discuss inter-gropup dynamics and the interconectedness of identities. His discussion occurs in an intellectual context that he isgnlas quite clearly in the first couple of paragraphs of the introduction. Barth was explicit: "My colleagues and I were, after all, engaging in a debate with our contemporaries" most of whom thought that one could use institutions like kinship, customs and values to identify ethnic groups. Barth was explicitly arguing against that view.Slrubenstein | Talk 13:03, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Folks, are there any freely-accessible internet-based references the rest of us mere mortals can read up on so we can chime in with our thoughts? Your discussion seems to be hermetic enough that it's hard to tell what's what. The only things I know are: 1)one shouldn't delete relevant, cited material and 2)I think I've seen enough weasel words being introduced in this article over the last 24 hours or so to last me a lifetime.--Ramdrake 13:05, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Alas, the web is not a very good source on this, unless you have electronic access to major anthropology journals. I did find [8] whis is okay - it identifies two forms of "primordialism" (the POV Epf seems to be pushing), Barth's constructionism, and a fourth position, instrumentalism. This essay claims that Barth's view is "ahistorical" which I do not think is true, but if it is one would have to say there are two forms of constructivism, social and historical (e.g. Wolf, whom Epf is also deleting, as well as Sider and Friedlander who are cited). Slrubenstein | Talk 13:15, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

I am not pushing any POV, but clearly you have shown in the article that you are, and your credibility in the discussion has been lost by the fact that you have misused references to justify opinions which they do not claim. Barth (and the forms you mention just above) does not state whatsoever any view that opposes the importance and inherent aspects of ethnic identication among human societies. You are clearly just showing your own unsupported views, and are not entering the information or quotes accurately. That earlier quote you entered again has nothing to say which disagrees with my quote from Statistics Canada. He is merely mentioning a debate with his contemporaries on the various aspects of ethnic identification. You have been already caught three times now of incorrectly entering statements and quotes in a manner to suit your POV, or using the references to support you opinionated statements in the article. You are not fooling anybody here. I'm deleting the quotes in the first paragraph because the sources do not support the statements you are entering in the article (they don't support the mini summarization of how ethnic groups arise via "specific conditions", as well anything that is contrary to the statement from StatCan quote)Epf 13:29, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

There are specifc aspects that have led to the development of ethnic identification, of course, but that statement is not contrary whatsoever to the inherent aspects and importance of ethnic identification in human societies. I do not know what you are trying to prove here. Epf 13:31, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm no expert in this, but having read this exchange a number of times now, it seems to me that it is Epf's objections that seem to be specious, in order to advance some specific POV which he holds to be the truth. Again, I have seen over the last 24-36 hours introduction in this article of many small changes which amounted to weasel words that seemed to be placed there in order to belittle one position against another.. Furthermore, the two arguments above regarding quotes seem a little like splitting hairs four ways lengthwise, as user Epf at least in one argument, was emphasizing some words of the quote, in what seemed like an attempt to make it say what it wasn't really saying. Furthermore, as exemplified on my talk page, user:Epf still seems to think he is the holder of the unadulterated truth, and that anybody who disagrees with him is flat wrong. This isn't a constructive attitude here at Wikipedia. If there is a serious disagreement between users on content, it should be remembered that Wikipedia is about representing all sides of a debate, not the truth according to any particular editor or group of editors. I would urge all editors involved to seek a negotiated resolution to this different rather than to keep edit-warring.--Ramdrake 18:34, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
I think you hit the nail on the head, Ramdrake - Epf thinks he has a monopoly on the truth and dismisses me - with considerable contempt - because I have the temerity to disagree with him. He has a POV, which he expresses every time he claims he has no POV: it emphasizes "the importance and inherent aspects of ethnic identication among human societies" (yes, I am quoting him, in the paragraph where he denies having a POV). For the record: this is a fringe view among some social scientists - most anthropologists, and many sociologists - and many historians. But I have never claimed that the mainstream point of view (that ethnicity, ethnic identity, and ethnic groups are socially and historically constructed, emerge under specific conditions, and are not universal) is anything other than a POV and I have always provided sources. More important: I have never deleted Epf's POV or the source (the Canadian government and a conference in Canada). I accept the fact than many people hold Epf's point of view, and I accept the fact that the article should include this POV. NPOV requires that both (minimally - the web-article I cited above suggests one could parse it to four POV's which I may do at some point ... parsing it to four POV's would represent other social sciences notably psychology and political science more fully) POV's be represented in the article. I have no trouble with this because I now Wikipedia is about verifiability, not truth. Epf wants to have a monopoly on the truth, and can't deal with this. Slrubenstein | Talk 02:18, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
I have had many dealings with Epf over the last couple of years, mainly on English people and Welsh people where he has constantly claimed that there are real and fundamental biological/genetic differences between English and Welsh people, and that they are demonstrably different "biological" groups. His pattern of editing in those articles was identical to that described by Ramdrake, the constant inclusion of weasel words to support one POV and undermine another. He constantly claimed, at one point, that a specific genetic research paper was "only" based on Y chromosome and mtDNA analyses, and continually disparaged this methodology.[9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] Besides the fact that he only disparaged this methodology because it disputed his point of view, he was wrong, because the paper in question did indeed use autosomal locus data, something he refused to acknowledge even when I pointed it out to him time and again, eventually he had to accept it, but I had to explain step by step why he was wrong, but he was so sure of his infallibility that it took a long time and a lot of effort.[16] Epf has a very high regard for his own abilities and opinions (he thinks his opinions are "facts"), but has a very low opinion of even cited material that does not conform to his personal opinion. Hence the disparaging of "only" mt and Y chromosome work, and that it is only "preliminary" or "small scale". Ramdrake's observation reflects a long history of tendentious editing by this user. Alun 06:30, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
  • First of all, Alun, this is a discussion forum with issues relating to this specific article. If you have grievances towards me or any of my edits and opinions on other articles in the past, please reveal them elsewhere. This isn't some blog or forum for complaints about other users. Clearly there has been some unanimous bias here against me and my edits, because I assure all three of you that the version I was editing was much more neutral, verifiable and accurate then the one now, originally presented by Slrubenstein. I have demonstrated on three separate occasions how he has misinterpreted, misrepresented and re-worded quotes and referenes in the article to conform to his own POV and original research statements. The information has not been entered in an appropriate manner and the fact that both Alun and Ramdrake take a blind eye to this, and point the finger solely at me clealry shows your own bias on this issue (as I very much already know is the case with Alun with many matters which somewhat relate to this). The fact you mention weasel words with regards to me Alun, shows this even more when if you noticed from my edits, that was the whole point of them, to remove the POV statements and weasel words of the version supported by Slrubenstein (and possibly Ramdrake, I don't know what his opinion is on this matter specifically). Alun, I also never disputed those genetic studies you quote for merely my POV, but I did dispute them for whatever opinions and results they gave (and whther or not they agreed with my own 'opinions') as any person from a netural standpoint will see when reading those links. I also never maintained the level of biological difference you seem to be attributing to me between many Welsh and English people, only that there were some differences as shown by practically all the studies themselves (especially the Y-chromosome census by UCL and the earlier study by Weale) amongst other sources. I only defended the differing ethnic histories and origins of the two ethnic groups. If you are attempting to drag me back into that debate, it is not going to work. If this not your motive, then again there is no reason to bring it up on this particular discussion page whatsoever. I also would point out to both Slrubenstein and to Ramdrake that if you read the edit histories on those articles Alun has pointed out, you will see the same behaviour Alun accuses me of with regards to himself. I consistently took part in discussion in any case, even on the few occasions I (and Alun) engaged in tendentious editing or edit-warring. Look, I know for a fact Slrubenstein is clearly doing some POV pushing here, as is shown with his edits, and as for Ramdrake and Alun, I don't completely know your views on this specific issue. This is no excuse to make attacks and complaints about me (especially regarding past, non-related matters) on this discussion board or to ignore the facts of my argument. My argument is not based very much on my opinons or any POV pushing, but it IS based on accuracy, neutrality, and verifiability in the article. Slrubenstein enters the quote, references and edits in very obvious POV statements. For example, he his entering the Statistics Canada quotes on the Conference on Ethnic Groups with his own weasel words and his own statement that is not directly found in the sources. The material in that statement that he even claims to be found as is in the source material is in fact not how they are stated as I have shown. This is why this has become such an issue with me: one of the main weak points in so many Wikipedia articles is the consistent over-reliance on numerous sources which can not be immediately verified on-line and therefore you are putting the trust of the accuracy (and representation) of that source material solely in the hands of the user that provides it. I have caught so many users on here of falsely representing the material when I looked for both copies of the sources on-line they didn't know about existed, or from the hard copy I located myself from libraries. As I have stated previously, I have already this behaviour a few times with Slrubenstein in this very article. Again, Alun and Ramdrake continue to turn a blind eye to this behaviour, these obvious POV statements, and this editing which is indeed just as tendentious (if not more so) than that which I incorrectly carried out. If you continue to do this and continue to demonstrate a clear, negative bias against myself in the matter while ignoring the facts of the issue at hand, I will go to an administrator to act as an arbiter if needs be. Have a good night. Ciao. Epf 08:39, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually Epf I was merely showing that this is a pattern of behaviour you have displayed before. I have provided evidence for this pattern of behaviour. Alun 09:31, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Now I understand the problem: "one of the main weak points in so many Wikipedia articles is the consistent over-reliance on numerous sources which can not be immediately verified on-line" - this is the thinking of an ignorant dilettant. Most of us know that to understand a topic one needs to read books and journal articles that are not often available on-line. If Wikipedia were just taken from on-line material, especially taken out of context, it would be a shabby, superficial and worthless encyclopedia indeed, one that repeats the mistakes that commonly circulate. It amazes me too how people have such a low standard for social science articles compared to physics articles. No one would get away with quoting articles on the web out of context to piece together Lorenz equations or string theory. We have to rely on people who know what they are talking about. Epf is just ignorant about this body of literature, and the current social science literature on ethnicity. That is okay, we don;t expect every reader to be an expert in everything. But it is his arrogance in thinking that he understands everything from having done some google-searches ... well, that is just sad. Yes, I use words not in the source itself - that is called "editing" which includes paraphrasing, contextualizing, and adding transitions - an encyclopedia article is not just a string of quotes. But to do this well you have to know what you are talking about and Epf just doesn't. I am not even sure he knew who Barth was before yesterday, and now he thinks he is an expert! Really sad. He should just create his own blog where no one will expect him to be NPOV and where he can say what he thinks as much as he wants to. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:15, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Rubenstein, please do not resort to personal attacks, it is not in the spirit of Wikipedia (see Wikipedia:No Personal Attacks). You should have also included the whole excerpt from my discussion which states that:

"...the consistent over-reliance on numerous sources which can not be immediately verified on-line and therefore you are putting the trust of the accuracy (and representation) of that source material solely in the hands of the user that provides it. I have caught so many users on here of falsely representing the material when I looked for both copies of the sources on-line they didn't know about existed, or from the hard copy I located myself from libraries. As I have stated previously, I have already this behaviour a few times with Slrubenstein in this very article."

I value the inclusion of various sources that may not be necessarily found on-line (although many of those hard sources such as journals, studies, books, etc. can now be found on-line). My only point was that when references are used that can not be immediately or easily verified on-line, you are putting complete faith in the accurate representation of the source material in the hands of the user who provided it. As I state above, I have consistenty found users who re-worded or misused the material for their own POV statements, including you Slrubenstein in this very article.

"Epf is just ignorant about this body of literature, and the current social science literature on ethnicity. That is okay, we don;t expect every reader to be an expert in everything. But it is his arrogance in thinking that he understands everything from having done some google-searches ..."

Like I already stated, I am not ignorant about this body of literature whatsoever, and clearly you have no idea about my fairly extensive background in thia area. Anthropology and ethnicity have been a passion of mine for years and I am currently studying in this field at school (just finished an undergraduate degree actually). I do not claim to be an expert, but obviously you are very far away from this subjective title. I understand the material from an extensive background of information, and only used on-line sources to show the material you were using (which again also displayed your false representation of it).

"Yes, I use words not in the source itself - that is called "editing" which includes paraphrasing, contextualizing, and adding transitions - an encyclopedia article is not just a string of quotes. But to do this well you have to know what you are talking about and Epf just doesn't."

Actually Rubenstein, an encyclopedia is basically an accmulation of information from numerous sources all put together. Wikipedia states very clearly though that when entering the information that it be accurately represented as it is found in the source material. There is no contextualizing or paraphrasing allowed that goes through the filter of someones POV or original research, omitting what he/she disagrees with or dislikes. This includes the weasel words you consistently wish to keep in this very article, epseically when they make POV statments which are not found in the source material you use. This is not a place for people to post material from how they deem it fit or what they value from it. State the material as is, and Wikipedia makes this very clear in Wikipedia:Verifiability. You replaced my neutral edits in the artilcle with your own OR and POV statments that contain weasel words and views not held by the sources themselves. Obviously I do know what I am talking about on the subject matter and I am merely exposing here the problem behind your edits. In addition, I did know who Barth was before yesterday, but personally had not read too extensively into his work. Manyof his views are interesting and I agree with certain aspects. Too bad you didn't enter his views, statements and opinions accurately with your edits. Ciao. Epf 17:25, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Please note that an encyclopedia is not merely a connection of all literature, but an overview of the mainstream viewpoints. Issues like the Spaghetti monster do not feature in many articles because of this condition on the accumulation. Arnoutf 17:50, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
To answer Epf's points, his charges against Slrubenstein of "misrepresenting the cited material", if I am to judge by the exchange above alone, are baseless. What I find is that it is Epf himself who does the word-twisting, at least for what little is verifiable. I would also caution Epf against judging other people prematurely: it so happens that Slrubenstein is a bona fide expert on the subject. In short, it is my own observation so far that Epf seems to be guilty of everything he accuses Slrubenstein of doing wrong, while Slrubenstein, AFAIK, is only trying to maintain some neutrality to the different positions represented in this article. And if user Epf finds that this might sound like a personal attack, well it's just an observation, and as far as not making personal attacks is concerned, I would encourage him to re-read his edits.--Ramdrake 18:17, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
I have re-read my edits and clearly I am by no means "guilty of everything I accuse Slrubenstein of doing wrong". This recent reply by Ramdrake clearly shows his bias in favour of Slrubenstein's opinions without accurately and honestly discussing the issue at hand. I am preserving neutrality here and am also confused as to how and why you continue to argue against such obviousness. Did you honestly just state: "it so happens that Slrubenstein is a bona fide expert on the subject" ? Perhaps you somehow have evidence of this ? You know him personally ? Judging from Slr's inappropriate personal attacks and some one-word responses, I'd easily disagree with this notion. Epf (talk) 19:06, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Please, first learn to indent properly. Second, what you call bias is simply my finding that Slrubenstein is in the right in this matter and that you are in the wrong, based on Wikipedia policy. Third your notion that you are preserving neutrality has already been commented upon by several editors besides Slrubenstein and myself, and been found dead wrong. Fourth, even though he dislikes flaunting his knowledge of his field, Slrubenstein is a tenured professor of anthropology at a very reputable university, and to me that trumps a graduate student of anthropology (such as yourself) any day. And lastly, if you could just stop you badgering and assume good faith for a moment, and take pause and consider why he holds the views that he does, in a word discuss your differences rather than blindly revert and maintain that he's wrong and you're right and no explanation is needed because it's so obvious (which is no position at all), maybe you'd be able to get somewhere with some sort of compromise. Right now, you're not going anywhere, except possibly to a sanction board, eventually. I urge you to reconsider.--Ramdrake (talk) 13:45, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

I read the discussion above with interest, and my assessment is that Epf does not understand the subject properly, or that he is so obfuscated by his personal opinion that he/she is unable to assess sources and summarize them properly. Adding to this Aun's report on similar behaviors exhibited in other articles, and the underlying animosity expressed in most, if not all, comments addressed to Slrubinstein, points to one of these cases of an editor who edits on a narrow subset of articles that instead of improving articles, creates a trail of "disruption through exhaustion" of editors editing these articles. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:35, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

I think it was Ramdrake that asked for an open internet source to this discussion. I think maybe this could be worth a glance to get an overview. Pretty well written by a quite reliable scholar. [17] pertn (talk) 13:03, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
It is a very ineresting paper and I hope Epf and others read it. I am not sure that it represents the mainstream view among anthropologists, but it certainly is thoughtful and well-informed and is helpful in that it lays out some major distinct approaches to ethnicity. I personally find the attempt to move beyond the primordialist/constructivist debate interesting. I point out only that many anthropologists were uninterested in this debate; I think "the primordialist/essentialist debate" is perhaps the most widespread way non-anthropologists have made sense of different approaches to ethnicity including those of anthropologists, but I do not think this has been a major debate among anthropologists themselves. Finally, I'd like to say that it would be great if this article were written in such a way that it could cite and summarize this paper. But I do not think it can in its current state, because the article as is does not provide enough context for one to understand this article. First, we would have to make sure this article clearly delineates the four major approaches the paper refers to. Then, we would have to explain who has participated in the primordialism vs. constructivism debate, and make clear what other debates anthropologists and other social scientists have engaged in. Only then could this paper be summarized in a meaningful way. If user Pertn were willing to do some of this work, all I can say is, I would applaud that. Slrubenstein | Talk 19:36, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree that we shouldn't put too much weight on this specific paper, since it is only a conference paper and also for the reasons you mentioned. I mainly wanted to find a good introduction for the ones without access to journals through the university system. I'm an anthropologist but not an expert in this topic myself. The Primordialist Constructivism debate is quite well known in Norway because of the immense influence Barth has had (and still has) on Norwegian anthropology. But to be honest I am not so well informed on how high a profile it has had internationally. I suppose Cohen, which is mentioned in the paper, is a good well known example on the extreme constructivist side. I will try to find some other sources that better summarizes it all. It might be that Eriksen's other writing is a good place to start, but I have a feeling that the best source would be the introduction to some recent books on ethnicity. I will see what I can do. pertn (talk) 11:01, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
I meant two things, which are just my own view: (1) I do not know of any contemporary and active anthropologist who takes the "primordialist" side seriously, which is why I say there3 is no debate - Barth is well-respected of course in the US and the UK. (2) I am not even sure that so-called primordialists (among anthropologists) ould claim to be opposing Barth in any fundamental way. When Geertz, following Shils, uses the term "primordial ties" he is naming a class of relationships but is not proposing a theory of how those relationships form/where they come from ... it is my sense that political scientists and psychologists read the classification "primordial ties" as a theory about such ties, but I don't think that is Geertz's point. That's all. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:17, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree on both counts. Most current (social/cultural) anthropologists are not primordialists at all. The debate was more of a debate with the past I think. Still, I think it could be in the interest for this article to present the continuum of views on how "real" the ethnic essense is in some way, where I guess Cohen would be an extreme in one direction. It should be possible to find a RS that does this, i suppose. And also, I guess an obvious point would be to note the discrepancy between the ethnopolitical (quite understandable) primordialism and the contructivism of the students of ethnopolitics. pertn (talk) 18:56, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Invention of tradition

In the sentence, "historians and cultural anthropologists have documented that many of the values, practices, and norms that imply continuity with the past are of relatively recent invention" the key word is "many," not "are." According to mainstream anthropologists and historians, many - not all, but many - values et.c are of recent invention. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:45, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

According to your source material in the statement, "can be" would be more suitable wording, not "are", but it's really not that big of a deal.
As for ancestry, it does not just include biological traits associated with it, but those specific traits ARE a part of ethnicity as is mentioned and sourced in this article. Few would argue otherwise. Epf (talk) 20:25, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Don't know what source material you are referring to, certainly not the source material I cite! Slrubenstein | Talk 09:34, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Dictionary definitions

I removed the dictionary definition, it was not a definition of "Ethnic group" but a definition of "ethnic". Dictionaries are not written with academically rigorous use in mind, if such a thing exists we need an anthropological dictionary for a definition. Besides the Compact Oxford Dictionary gives a completely different definition

ethnic:[18] adjective
1 relating to a group of people having a common national or cultural tradition.
2 referring to origin by birth rather than by present nationality: ethnic Albanians.
3 relating to a non-Western cultural tradition: ethnic music.

I don't think we should be getting ourselves into a situation where everyone produces the dictionary definition that best matches their favourite point of view. This is not a repository for different definitions. Let's stick to what notable anthropologists say shall we? Alun (talk) 07:24, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Hi Alun, just on here for a few minutes, but I personally don't see why you can't have both ? Whoever introduced it, if they want the OED definition, then its a valid source, so what's the issue ? Epf (talk) 14:02, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Another problem is that you chose only "the most appropriate" definitions (according to yourself). That is editorializing, and not permitted at Wikipedia.--Ramdrake (talk) 14:27, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
What ? All I did was re-vert it back to the definitions that were originally selected. Editorializing ? How ? I didn't enter those definitions, someone else did. If there are other definitions of ethnic or ethnic group in the OED, then enter them as well. Epf (talk) 21:57, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Then you are not guilty of editorializing. But whoever put it there with this exact wording is, and it should still be reverted.--Ramdrake (talk) 22:03, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Ok, well that's why I didn't re-insert it. Do you have the actual source definition from OED ? I don't have a login at its main page. Epf (talk) 22:05, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
No, and I don't think it's appropriate either to reinsert them, for the reasons Alun outlined above.--Ramdrake (talk) 22:07, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
I think it's best to stick to anthropological articles and definitions, but technically there isn't really an issue (according to Wiki policy) with including the OED definitions, as long as all which we agree are pertinent to this artilce are included. Epf (talk) 22:33, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Find me a definition of ethnic group that comes from a manual of anthropology (or other reliable source on anthropology) and it can go in. I wouldn't consider OED as authoritative in anthropology.--Ramdrake (talk) 23:33, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Tow reasons for not giving a particular dictionary definition are neutrality and reliability. What I mean is firstly different dictionaries give different definitions, to stick to a single definition would breach neutrality, on the other hand I don't think we should have an article where we have a free for all situation where everyone inserts their own preferred dictionary definition. This was the case on the Black people article about 18 months ago, there were some ten different dictionary definitions.With regards to reliable sources, can a dictionary definition be considered a reliable source? Dictionaries give general usage, the word "ethnic" is sometimes used in every day life as a synonym for "race" or even as a description of artwork/clothing from different cultures, but this is not the anthropological meaning. Because the definition is for "ethnic" and not for "ethnic group" it clearly relates to "ethnic" as an adjective, and not "ethnic group" as a noun. There doesn't seem to be any great consensus one way or the other, but I do think that on ballance it's best to stick to reliable anthropological texts. All the best. Alun (talk) 06:08, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

OED definitions are very good for etimology and tracing the history of the usage of a word in English. Dictionaries in general are excellent resources for the conventional spelling and pronunciation of a word, as well as common meanings. If we wanted to have a section in an article on the common or popular understanding of the word "ethnicity" among English speakers, a dictionary definition would be appropriate. If we wanted to have a section in an article on the meaning of the concept of ethnicity as used by social scientists, a dictionary would be an inappropriate and as is often the case a misleading resource. NPOV requires that will include all notable views, and these views must be properly identified. The popular understanding of "drift" is not the same as that of population geneticists; the popular understanding of "evolution" is not the same either. "Ethnicity" has meaning for politicions and for leaders and members of social movements and their views - properly identified and contextualized should be included. Social scientists, who study and analyze the belifs of politicians, leaders and members of social movements, etc., understandably have a different view of "ethnicity" and this understanding too must be included in the article. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:05, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

The views of ethnicity between social scientists even differs among themselves, as well as significantly with biologists or physical anthropologists. In terms of politicians or social movements, their views sometimes coincide with views of social or other scientists and sometimes do not. Epf (talk) 04:01, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

And these differences or convergences of views should be discussed in the article. But the point of view - who hold or forwards that view - should always be clearly identified. This is best served by research into what specific social scientists have claimed, and specific politicians, bureaucrats, and leaders of social movements have claimed, not dictionary definitions. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:00, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

I'd just like to point out to Epf that ethnicity is not a biological concept, it has no biological definition. When biologists want to discuss group differences they would discuss this in population genetics terms and not in terms of ethnicity. The vocabulary of biology does not include "ethnicity" or "ethnic group", population geneticists try to sample from localised populations. Sometimes they label these samples by the ethnonym the group gives itself, but we should not conflate this with a definition of "ethnicity". Biologists would never try to define the terms ethnicity or ethnic group in biological terms because these concepts are well outside the confines of their discipline. Alun (talk) 13:46, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
  • I don't think I ever claimed that ethnicity is strictly a "biological concept" though you have often erroneously accused me of doing so. I only mentioned how ethnicity most often includes a biologically-related aspect as part of its definition (i.e. descent; descent involves both cultural and biological factors in terms of ethnic identification, hence why I use the term "biologically-related"). Many anthropologists advocate such and if you want evidence of this, I suggest starting with the article by Cohen that is referenced in this article. You are correct in mentioning that words such as "population" are more commonly used by scientists when speaking about genetic variation but, as you say, "ethnicity" (or more often "ethnic origin") is also used as a label either by the researchers or by the groups being studied (the Human Genome Diversity Project is just one example). This is useful when studying certain groups which have (or claim to have) a particular or distinct ancestry based on various diacritics, including many which can be unreliable (physical appearance, history, culture, language, behaviour, traditions/customs, etc.) Since ethnicity is often based on or includes a biologically-related concept such as descent, it makes sense for this categorization to be used in many studies. This does not mean whatsoever that studies which use ethnic labels like the HGDP or those done by Luigi Cavalli-Sforza are making ethnic categories into strictly biological ones. They are only using them to help analyze the distribution of human genetic variation (including cultural and historical aspects). I suppose that whether or not these patterns in genetic variation coincide with constructed ethnic categories is down to a matter of perspective. Genetic markers may coincide with claimed descent in some groups much more than others, often depending for example on the extent and length of a groups isolation and homogeneity. Groups which have continuously inhabited their present area and which have been very isolated from other human commmunities for most of their existence (eg. many indigenous Papuan groups which have inhabited New Guinea for at least 60,000 years with little or no contact from outside groups) tend to display the most evident correlations between their claimed descent and actual observable genetic markers. Ciao, Epf (talk) 02:26, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Epf, you did not only mention "how ethnicity most often includes a biologically-related aspect". You specifically stated "The views of ethnicity between social scientists even differs among themselves, as well as significantly with biologists or physical anthropologists." So you were discussing how biologists' views on ethnicity differ from those of social scientists. That is not mentioning any "biological aspect of ethnicity", that is saying that you believe that biologists identify ethnicity differently to social scientists. I didn't say that you had claimed that "ethnicity is strictly a biological concept", I said that ethnicity is not in the realm of biological investigation, so biologists do not define it and do not claim to have a different view of ethnicity to anthropologists or social scientists. In their paper "The debate over race: Thirty years and two centuries later" (in "Race and IQ" edited by Ashley Montagu) Lieberman, Littlefield and Reynolds state "The term 'ethnic group' is given cultural meaning by anthropologists and sociologists to clarify the idea that groups are identified by cultural beliefs, not by biological differences" (emphasis not added) Biologists do not study ethnic groups or ethnicity, so they have no reason to view it in any way whatsoever that is different to the way social scientists view it. As I say, when biologists want to investigate different populations they do so on the basis of biology, and not on the basis of ethnicity, the means to study human biological differences are no different to the means to study the differences between populations of any other organisms, i.e. they use population genetics. The use of "ethnic group" descriptors in the HGDP has been roundly criticised and the results of this project have been described as biased due to the statistical artifacts derived from uneven sampling of the human global population, this is specifically due to the reason that ethnic groups are not biological groups, and to pretend that they are is to bias the sample.[19] As for descent, you should know better than anyone that the concept of descent as used in anthropology is not biological but cultural. Descent means very different things in biology and anthropology, see Kinship and descent and Common descent. I do think you should make more of an effort to discuss things in terms of what reliable sources say rather than in personal opinion, it adds weight to your point of view and it provides sources to support your edits to articles. Alun (talk) 06:15, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, I should make an effort to include more reliable sources than merely my own opinions, even if they are supported. I did state that the definitions of ethnicity differ among social scientists themselves as well as between them and biologists or physical/biological anthropologists. This is supported in the Ronald Cohen article "Ethnicity: Problem and Focus in Anthropology" (1978, Annual Review of Anthropology) which I have mentioned in the past and mentions a variety of viewpoints on what defines an ethnic group from various anthropologists and social sicentists. There are specific excerpts supporting this point. For example, on p.385 Cohen mentions how "In anthropology, Barth summarizes anthropological definitions as usually having four elements: 1 a biologically self-perpetuating population 2 a sharing of cultural values and forms 3 a field of communication and interaction, 4 a grouping that identifies itself and is identified by others as constituting a category different form other categories of the same type." Now, Cohen also goes on to mention how Barth "criticizes anthropology for having isolated the ethnic unit conceptually so that cultural and social forms are seen as relatively isolated outcomes of local adaptation. This assumes some kind of continuity of the unit as an entity over time and a relation to a particular location." Cohen responds that "empirically this may or may not be true with differential effects on cultural and social forms." (i.e. the various influences on the development of human societies, be they cultural, environmental or biological). Alun, it almost seems to me that you are of the viewpoint that there is no biological aspect to ethnicity or that anyone who studies aspects of human biology (whether it be anatomy, appearance or genetics) has no connection to the study of ethnicity. There are some scientitists who agree with this notion and many who do not (especially given the integral importance of descent to most ethnicities and peoples, even if the descent is largely cultural and often has very little to do with actual biological elements). The views of many biologists and physical anthropologists I'm sure do differ from that of many social scientists just as I'm sure they disagree with others in their own fields. Even the viewpoint on the validity of strictly demarcated "races" varies between disciplines (even if slightly). Physical or biological anthropologists however do study the biological or "biologically-related" aspects of human societies (this obviously includes ethnic groups) and many biologists who study the genetics of human populations do so along with anthropologists and regarding the origins of peoples, nations, tribes and ethnicities (Stehpen Oppenhemier's "Origins of the British" is one example which we have often debated over). Even those researchers who study the strictly cultural or behavioural aspects of ethnicity encounter aspects of ethnicity which are as I say "biologically-related". Cohen also notes this when mentioning the "descent-based cultural identifiers" of ethnic groups. As I have also already noted, the development of human behaviour and culture is intertwined with that of various factors, including our surrounding environment and our own biology. One area specifically dealing with this is known as dual inheritance theory. You are correct in saying that biologists study differences between human populations on the basis of biology, but this does not mean they don't have their own views on the connection between such research and that of socially-constructed (or mostly socially-constructed) human groups like ethnicities. Biological anthropology is the interdisciplinary field which, in a way, bridges the study of human biology and that of human societies, ethnicities and cultures (anthropology). That quote you mention from Lieberman, Littlefield and Reynolds only mentions (in their view) that how ethnic groups themselves identify is based from cultural beliefs (or socially constructed markers), not that there aren't any biologically-related aspects at all to the identity of ethnic groups or the development of those cultural beliefs. As Cohen again mentions in his article, even the cultual idenitites are "descent-based", implying the biologically-related role of descent in the identification of ethnic groups from the macro-culture of the large groups down to the micro-cultures of specific local communitites and families. Clearly this article specifies there are many who recognize the role biological aspects play within ethnic groups, even if they are socially constructed for the most part (i.e. the constructions are based in part from biological or biologically related factors such as descent, kinship, genetics, "race" or physical appearance). The HGDP (including researchers like Spencer Wells) was just one prime example I used of how the biological research on human populations is combined with that of the cultural or social. The socially constructed ethnic categories and cultures can often coincide in some patterns with those of the biological categories or markers. Just how much so and with which groups is a matter of perspective and debate. The formation of many groups cleary has been affected by historical, environmental and even biological factors and therefore the evolution of their cultures as well. The high degree of isolation and homogeneity in some groups for example can clearly be seen to have also impacted the development of their society and culture. Yes there are some who disagree with the the findings and techniques used by the HGDP, but I find that this is manily because they have opinions and political leanings similar to that of social scientists like Lieberman, Little field and Reynolds who seem to have a biased approach in favour of de-emphasizing the link, any link, between biological and cultural aspects of ethnic communities. The HGDP in my view is a fantastic project and it is by no means employing cultural, linguistic or ethnic groups as biological categories, but merely taking samples from such groups and possibly finding (or not finding) patterns between these groups and the occurence of various genetic markers. Considering that the vast majority of ethnic groups are based on aspects of common descent, including descent-based cultural beliefs and traditions (and still therefore "biologically-related" in terms of how they are constructed), it is obvious to see why they are being used in the sampling of the project. I understand that people with dangerous, negative and pseudo-scientific viewpoints may attempt to abuse such findings but I don't see how such threats should impede valid scientific research. This is an example of how certain genetic frequencies occur at their highest in a certain ethnic group or groups and how such findings can be useful to scientific study. Similar findings can be found for various groups from various regions each with specific peculiarities. Learning about and respecting our diversity (including the biological and biologcally-related aspects) does not mean ignoring it and downplaying it altogether which is the type of viewpoint I have previously labelled (and seems to be prevalent in many sections of modern society) as "ethnic nihilism". If you still disagree then that's fine, but I at least hope I have clarified what I was trying to say. Ciao, Epf (talk) 00:36, 23 July 2008 (UTC)
I know Cohen writes, Cohen responds that "empirically this may or may not be true with differential effects on cultural and social forms." But where does he explain "(i.e. the various influences on the development of human societies, be they cultural, environmental or biological)?" Slrubenstein | Talk 08:27, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Proposed change in lede

The sentence: "However, according to ethnic identities only arise under specific conditions" seems a bit imprecise to me, at least How about "Others, like anthropologists Frederick Barth and Eric Wolf, regard ethicity as a result of interaction, rather than essential qualities of groups." Any objections or opinions? pertn (talk) 13:15, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

I like it! Slrubenstein | Talk 17:50, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

Good! if there is no protest or modifications, I'll insert it in a few days.pertn (talk) 20:36, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

I do not agree with some of the wording. Epf (talk) 03:57, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
Do you mean that the wording violates proper English usage, or do you mean that the wording misrepresents the views of Wolf and Barth? Slrubenstein | Talk 09:58, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

I cannot conceive of anyone but a rabid national mysticist objecting to the understanding of "ethicity as a result of interaction, rather than essential qualities of groups". That's pretty much self-evident, if you choose to look at the process of ethnogenesis rather than the synchronic properties of an ethnic group. --dab (𒁳) 08:46, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Ethnicity and Marxism

Could this be a section? Discussing the Marxist outlook on ethnicity and nationalism, that its a "novel", a fabricated fiction. They often cite the development of the United States, who created a heritage and ethnicity and sense of nationalism from nothing as they had their own European ethnicity and nationalism beforehand. Or they cite Belgium, who until 1830 didn't really exist, and yet suddenly it had a rich heritage, and a unique ethnicity and feeling of nationalism. There is also the arguement that Europeans, not Africans, invented tribes, but that is slightly a side point. Imagined Communities, the author's name escapes me, would be a good source on this. SGGH speak! 07:53, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

These are not specifically "Marxist" arguments, they are arguments that have been made by a wide range of anthropologists and historians and are already mentioned in the introduction and body of the article. The classic Marxist view was articulated by Stalin and is consistent with what Marx and Engels wrote, which generally took nations as givens. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:03, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
For Imagined Communities, see Benedict Anderson.Eyedubya (talk) 12:07, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
Or just go straight to Imagined Communities.Eyedubya (talk) 12:08, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Turkish ethnicity

This section was recently removed: In Turkey, due to the country's long Ottoman Empire History and migrations, it is possible to encounter different ethnic groups. Beside known groups like Turkic Peoples, Laz People, Kurds and Jews one can find people with non-Turkic roots assimilated and living like Turks. Because of this, it is highly possible in Istanbul to see Turkish people with blond or red hair and blue eyes. It might have been less hasty and more useful to have merely added a [citation needed] tag to that paragraph.

Especially so when you consider how quickly I found the following sources which could be used in support of the points made in the above deleted paragraph:

  • Balkan Gypsies sometimes have lighter skin and even blond hair and blue eyes. [20]
  • Atatürk, with his blue eyes and blonde hair, born in Salonica, could certainly not be Muslim but surely had Jewish blood in him! [21]
The full quote by this author said, in fact, that this was one of the myths of his childhood. These are anecdotal accounts of the variety of people, not a scholarly assessment.--Parkwells (talk) 15:50, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Kharastanis all have blue eyes and blond hair. [22]
  • Regarding the blonde-haired blue-eyed Boris Johnson, the new Mayor of London, who has definite Turkish ancestors.[23]

I would thus suggest we might re-think and amend the deleted paragraph and maybe consider adding it back with references. thank you. Peter morrell 08:26, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

Those references are useless - they just show that more people confuse ethnicity with physical characteristics. It is simply riduculous to say that blond people are ethnically non-turks but live among the turks as if they were turks. What it should say is that since race and physical characteristics are completely independent of ethnicity, turks can have all kinds of hair colours and still be turks. The quote about Atatürk is even more ridiculous since being muslim is not an ethnicity but a religion and muslim religion can be professed by people of any colour - the same goes for judaism. This nonsense does nothing to inform the rreaders of this article about what ethnicity is and isn't infact it only serves to misinform. It has no place in a serious article about ethnicity and no number of malinformed online sources can change that. ·Maunus·ƛ· 08:31, 17 July 2008 (UTC)
Agree with the above, especially as the full quote about Ataturk was not used, which said the info there was a myth repeated during the author's childhood.--Parkwells (talk) 15:50, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
If you removed the doubtless offensive phrase "living like Turks" as it implies two levels of "Turkishness", and instead changed this into an example of how people often confuse people's appearance with people's ethnic groups, this could be replaced in the article. Tim Vickers (talk) 21:18, 17 July 2008 (UTC)
True that it would then be less offensive and misinforming - but still it would be of only tangential relevance for the article. And it would need sources that make that conclusion specifically.·Maunus·ƛ· 08:18, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

What Tim Vickers says is correct. Nor is this about satisfying one person here. When there is disagreement we should try to find consensus. My suggestion is this.

"The link between ethnicity and racial characteristics is blurred at best and often leads to confusing and simplistic views. For example, in Turkey, due to the country's geographical location, critically poised midway between Europe and Asia, its long Ottoman Empire history and numerous migrations, it is not of homogeneous composition, but contains different ethnic groups, such as Turkic peoples, Laz people, Kurds and Jews. It thus contains people with non-Turkic roots harmoniously integrated into Turkish society. Because of this, it is commonplace in Istanbul to see Turkish people with blonde or red hair and blue eyes in a society dominated numerically by the dark-haired and brown-eyed people many consider to be typically Turkish. Even the founder of modern Turkey, Atatürk, for example, had blue eyes and blonde hair.[24] Some of the Balkan Gypsies have lighter skin and even blonde hair and blue eyes,[25] and likewise, Kharastanis all have blue eyes and blonde hair.[26] Even the new Mayor of London, the blonde-haired and blue-eyed Boris Johnson, has attracted comment because of his definite Turkish ancestry.[27] Such examples illustrate what confusion can result when biological racial stereotypes are used as measures of ethnicity. They often turn out to be disappointing and unreliable indicators."

How does this sound? Is this an improvement? Is it suitable to be added to the article? If not, then can we improve it further, rather than simply dismissing these ideas as 'useless,' 'ridiculous' and 'tangential?' Please assume good faith and be more cooperative rather than so overtly hostile towards other editors. You do not own or control this article. thank you Peter morrell 12:54, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

While I appreciate you attempt at a compromise, and agree with the general point in this presentation I don't think that its inclusion would improve the article. I think it is a quite clearcut case of WP:SYNTH bordering on OR - it brings together several unrelated sources in order to further a point that is not implicit in any of them (in fact some of the sources seem to be contrary to the point we want to make). It also contains claims of dubious veracity thast would at least need a very good reference for them to be included (for example the weasel phrase about what "many people consider typically Turkish") And the point it self, namely that race and ethnbicity is not the same but is often blurred together, is already included in the article. The sources which I assume are among the first google hits of a search on "turkish+blonde" are of vairable reliability and better sources could quickly be found in print or in online peer reviewed literature about ethnicity in Turkey. I apologise for my apparently overthly hostile attitude - it was not my intention to come off as an article owner. I have not contributed significantly to this article and I generally have faith in that the many good editors working with social anthropology and sociology here on wikipedia will eventually stamp out the worst of the swathes of racialist, common-sense pseudo-anthropology being added every day. The removal of thios passage to me was a step in that, the right, direction. In fact I would like to point out that I was not the one to first remove the passage, but merely reverted its reinclusion because I agreed with the anonymous editor who removed it and because removing unsourced material without comment is perfectly allowed according to the guidelines. Of course if there is a consensus to include it I will not stand in the way, but I retain for myself the right to disagree, even strongly, and to voice my disagreement.·Maunus·ƛ· 15:47, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

Well, if you have some better sources then please post them here and we can amend the above paragraph. I did not see any racism in the original paragraph and am certainly not racist myself. On wikipedia I believe intimidating others with bullying and arrogant behaviour is far more common and far more insidious than racism, but obviously this is a matter of opinion. Consensus is never achieved through angry rhetoric and bludgeoning other folks' views. It is achieved through decent and respectful dialogue. I assume you know this. thanks Peter morrell 09:13, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

The burden of providing sources I am afraid is on the shoulders of those who want to include controversial material. I did not use the word racism but racialism which is not the same in my usage - the kind of racialism present in the original paragraph (and in some of your sources) is the kind that tries to confuse peoples genetic roots with their ethnicity and culture and argue for the significance of genetically based divisions between peoples. I also did not mean to imply that you held these viewpoints yourself, in fact I don't really understand what you are making a fuss about in the first place: I assume that you are not the one who originally included the paragraph in the article since your compromise proposal simply reverses the point made by the sources (which least makes it defensible). I don't see this as a viewpoint dispute since we seem to all agree that the paragraph as it was was misleading. But I also haven't seen any good arguments in favour of including it, what is it that the paragraph says that isn't already explained better in the article. I wonder if my admittedly slightly hostile edit summary was what provoked you to take the paragraph into defense in the first place - if that is the case then I certainly will try to be less confrontational in future edit summaries.·Maunus·ƛ· 10:27, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

I hold the view that deleting other people's work is an inferior and arrogant method of 'improving' articles, unless what is removed is vandalism or complete crap. Deletion is inferior to improving the work that is there by re-wording it and by adding citations. That is what the fuss here is all about: your unnegotiated and rude deletion of a useful paragraph that illustrates an aspect of ethnicity. It was a crude paragraph but it can be improved upon. As for citations, if "better sources could quickly be found in print or in online peer reviewed literature about ethnicity in Turkey," as you claim above, then it would be an act of good faith on your part to find them and post them here. That would also show a degree of cooperation and collaboration that would go some way to improving the article and gaining consensus. I can't see an issue with that. All wiki articles are hybrids of such collaborative effort. Let us strive to improve the article rather than argue over minutiae. thank you Peter morrell 12:05, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Peter, your own suggestion preserves the non-sequitor which is at the heart of this problem. That some people have red hair is just irrelevant, as far as I can tell. I have no problem with the first two sentences of the controversial passage quoted in the first paragraph of this section, and do not understand why they are being deleted. But I do think the third sentence is crap and should be deleted. Also, in general principle Maunus is right, the burden of proof on providing reliable and verifiable sources is on the editor who introduces new material. NOR and V are vital policies at Wikipedia and any edit that violates them should be deleted and speedily. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:41, 19 July 2008 (UTC)
Please remember that this is the article about the concept "Ethnic group" - not about Ethnic groups in Turkey. The passage in question basically makes two statements "There are different ethnic groups in Turkey." and "Turks can have different hair colours". The first is obviously true - but it is also true for the large majority of countries in the world, I don't see what it adds to the article that isn't already mentioned. The second is also true but is based on the flawed assumption that ethnic groupings should ideally represent genetic groupings. I am of the opinion that it is not necessarily useful to include material in an article if it is not necessary to give an accurate description of the subject. I see no necessity to include musings about turkish ethnic groups in an article about the concept of ethnicity, to my kowledge there is nothing so special about the ethnic situation in Turkey that Turkey needs to function as an independent example in the article. I may be wrong - and if you can argue that the Turkey material advances an important point that is not already adressed in the article then that is a different case. As for Mr. Rubensteins comment I do see a flaw with the first line in that it seems to make the common, but flawed, assumption that countries are ideally "ethnically homogeneous". The second line of the compromise proposal is problematic as well - it states that "It contains people with non-turkic roots integrated harmniously into Turkish society" - this is problematic for a number of reasons. Firstly it assumes an apriori Turkishness of which only "turkic peoples" are prototypical members - whereas people with other roots can only be integrated into the society of the Turks. This is also false because of course any concept of turkishness has only emerged as a result of the historical processes that brought together the people who are today turkish - to give precedence of turkishness to "turkic people" is an arbitrary choice that is not supported by reality. Second is the fact that the concept of "turkic peoples" is based on linguistic affinities and is only called turkic because the most prominent language of the group happened to be spoken in the land that was called turkey when the turkic languages were first proven to be related. Thirdly if we were to talk of turkishness and turkish society in an historical perspective then it seems more reasonable to say that turks integrated themselves into anatolian and hellene societies - and turkish happened to become the dominant language with time.·Maunus·ƛ· 19:17, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

That's a much better raft of reasons than your previous comments and I can go along with that flow of argument quite nicely. Thanks for clarifying, we can leave things as they are. Peter morrell 19:26, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Maunus has changed my mind about the first couple of sentences too ... these are points that perhaps s/he can develop in the article on European ethnic groups, I hope! Slrubenstein | Talk 21:16, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

New wordingEpf added,

Epf added,

According to the international meeting on the Challenges of Measuring an Ethnic World (1992), "Ethnicity is a fundamental factor in human life: it is a phenomenon inherent in human experience" despite its "inherent malleability."

I have three problems:

  • What on earth was "the international meeting on the Challenges of Measuring an Ethnic World?" The link does not go to the proceedings of the converence or any declaration by the conference, so it is impossible to judge the validity of this view. Who organized the conference? for what purposes? Who attended?
  • who actually drafted this statement? Who is responspible for the claims?\
  • did this declaration actually state that ethnicity is inherently malleable? i did not see that quoted and it is unclear who said it.

In short, a very dubious scourse. Maybe it is important, but I see no evidence as to what the source really is to judge. We need more information. right now it is safer to attribute the view to the Canadian Cnsus, the actual source provided. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:50, 22 July 2008 (UTC)

google reveals that Challenges of Measuring an Ethnic World is the title of the proceedings of the Joint Canada-United States Conference on the Measurement of Ethnicity.[28] --dab (𒁳) 08:43, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the helpful research, dab. Okay, this appears to reflect the views of the US and Canadian Census. It strongly diverges from the aminstream view of sociologists and anthropologists. I do not believe that this view should be removed from the article! But I do not think it should be given such prominence - or at least it should be properly identified/contextualized. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:44, 28 July 2008 (UTC)


The "defining ethnicity" section is riddled with postmodernist agnosticism. The (unsourced) "conclusion" of "This may be why descent is sometimes a marker of ethnicity, and sometimes not etc." is in direct contradiction to Banks' (and any dictionary's) "'ethnic groups' invariably stress common ancestry or endogamy". This is the "presumed" common ancestry. Without active endogamy, and "presumtion" of common ancestry, you don't get an ethnic group. Now "presumed" ancestry of course leaves open the question of how deep this actual common ancestry goes. It necessarily implies common ancestry within living memory (3 or 4 generations), since otherwise it'd be impossible to "presume". Whether actual common ancestry runs any deeper (10 generations? 20? 100?) is irrelevant to the "presumption" of course. endogamy will, of course, perpetuate common ancestry for as long as the ethnic identity in question remains alive. Any source that discusses actual ethnic groups takes the notion of common ancestry for granted. Needless to say, "common ancestry" doesn't amount to the claim of common ancestry reaching into deep prehistory. The lifetime of ethnic groups is a couple of centuries, not dozens of millennia. --dab (𒁳) 18:13, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Hmmm, and here I thought we were agreeing. In my opinion and experience there is no need for such a presumption. A recent question on the other page was whether a child of africa parents adopted into a european family could be considered to have the ethnicity of the adoption parents. Everything I have learned answer this with a clear cut yes. For example Danes know that a Korean adoptees genetic heritage is from Asia but nonetheless they are recognised as fully ethnic Danes by virtue of their upbringing and socialisation alone. This means that common ancestry is neither one of the necessary or of the sufficient criteria for belonging to an ethnicity. I don't know the "any sources that discuss actual ethnicity" that you talk about but I am quite convinced that commen ancestry is never assumed by the studies I have read. ·Maunus·ƛ· 18:41, 28 July 2008 (UTC)
BTW This failure to acknowledge that ethnicity can be detached form common ancestry also undermines for example the notion of "afro-americans" as a distinct ethnicity since that is a group that cannot be said to have any level of common ancestry but is almost purely culturally defined.·Maunus·ƛ· 18:46, 28 July 2008 (UTC)
Not sure what is wrong with defining ethnicity as being first and foremost centered on identity. I don't think (for example) that anybody would really argue that Josephine Baker was considered French, although she was racially (Black) and of Afro-American descent. If ethnic identity was centered primarily around common ancestry, we'd be faced with an interesting conundrum, namely that evolving cultures wouldn't be able to drive changes in ethnicity, which is contrary to what history tells us (the Franks did become the French, etc).--Ramdrake (talk) 19:16, 28 July 2008 (UTC)
because "identity" doesn't make for an ethnic group. It's necessary, but not sufficient. Only endogamy (and hence shared ancestry) is. Otherwise, the hippies would be an ethnic group, just as much as the Emos, the Trekkies and the trainspotters. Of course culture can shape ethnicity. By shaping marriage customs, and hence the ancestry of future generations. I really don't see the problem. dab (𒁳) 20:10, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

you are talking about individuals. I am talking about groups (as in the article title). Of course individuals may be adopted into an ethnic group, but that presupposes the existence of such a group in the first place. I begin to see where the misunderstanding lies. I am talking about "common ancestry" in terms of population genetics all the time. This obviously doesn't preclude the presence of individuals at the periphery, i.e. members of the group that do not share much or any common ancestry, just as long as the group can be said to be of significantly shared ancestry. Any statement on the ancestry of a group is naturally of a statistical nature, this is the difference between population genetics and an individual's genome. If you were reading my comments as precluding membership in an EG by adoption, I am not surprised at your objections. I am sorry if this was a misunderstanding. I am naturally talking in terms of statistics all the time. It would be hard to imagine an ethnic group where a majority of members were adopted. The Vatican (Catholic priesthood) for example doesn't practice endogamy and works by "adoption" only. It wouldn't occur to anybody to refer to the population of the Vatican (extremely homogenous Catholic culture, Latin language) as an "ethnic group". Adoption only works if the adoptees are a clear minority that do not significantly affect statements on the group's descent. I am not sure how you can say Afro-Americans don't have common ancestry. They have been intermarrying for more than 200 years. That's ten generations. If that doesn't make for "common ancestry" I don't know what does. The fact that "US Americans" aren't considered an ethnic group is due precisely to the fact that African-Americans and European-Americans have failed to significantly intermarry. Once they begin to do that, "USian" will be an ethnic group in another ten generations or so. dab (𒁳) 20:01, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

briefly: population genetics. An individual's ancestry tells you nothing about that individual's ethnic group. You need a sample of a large number of individuals, with the added information that these are all members of a population (i.e., participating in endogamy). Only then will you be able to make statements about common ancestry of the group in question. It is meaningless to ask about the "common" ancestry of an individual. Once you have pinned down such a group, you will be able to make statements about the amount of exogamy (e.g. by adoption). I predict that below a certain percentage of exogamy, you have a regular ethnic group, but above a certain amount of exogamy, you have ethnogenesis, transition towards a new ethnic identity. (That last bit illustrates the point but without a reference is OR of course, and I am not proposing inclusion in article space. I hope I have expressed myself lucidly.)dab (𒁳) 20:17, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Again, that's usually, but not always true. Take, for example, the United States or Brazil, where large influx of immigrants, who rapidly became accultured, have become part and parcel of the definition of being "American" or "Brazilian". I would suggest that it is more accurate to say that ethnicity is based on a notion of group identity, which identity can be based on any combination of language, culture, and a perceived common ancestry, whether real or legendary. I don't think endogamy is really a shaping factor of ethnicity, although I would dare say it's possibly its most common by-product. I believe we should move away from saying that race, language, culture, or ancestry is a sine qua non prerequisity of ehtnic identity. They all have their importance, and they're present in most ethnic groups as a factor, but I don't think there's any unitary factor which must be present for an ethnic group to form, except the convention that these people belong together as a group. --Ramdrake (talk) 20:18, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

I would suggest that if we disagree (you saying that endogamy is a sine qua non condition, and me saying that group identity is the invariant), that we each find sources stating so. Maybe we will end up presenting both views as significant views in the article.--Ramdrake (talk) 20:18, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

I do not dispute that group identity is invariant. I claim it is not sufficient. To establish that, I need only name one group which has a group identity but isn't an ethnic group. I have already named several (Catholic priesthood, Trekkies, etc.). Your invariant is granted as a prerequisite, but not as a sufficient criterion. I have also already cited a source saying endogamy is a sine qua non. Group identity is a sine qua non. Endogamy is one. That's hardly a contradiction, it's just two preconditions that both need to be met. "American" or "Brazilian" aren't ethnic characterizations. These examples rather go to show that a shared nationhood isn't sufficient if you do not have intermarriage over a sufficient amount of time. dab (𒁳) 20:23, 28 July 2008 (UTC)
Are you saying that Brazilian or American (and by extension afro-americans) aren't ethnicities?·Maunus·ƛ· 07:07, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Another ethnic group that is not endogamous is my own, the Danes. Danish society is currently experiencing a debate about whether Denmark is to become a multiethnic society (there is a suprising consensus that it is not already) - this however is not a debate about whether people with non-danish ancestry should be allowed to marry danes and enter the country, it is a debate about how many and who can be absorbed best into the danish ethnic category. ·Maunus·ƛ· 07:39, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
What do you mean, "by extension"? I find it very dfficult to discuss this when elementary logic keeps getting ignored. It is impossible to make any point once we've decided to do without basic syllogisms. "the Americans aren't an ethnic group" according to you "by extension" implies that "the African-Americans aren't an ethnic group"? I am really confused at this point. Are you serious? Am I drunk? Is this some sort of practical joke?
"Americans" aren't an ethnic group. See Race and ethnicity in the United States Census. "Brazilians" aren't an ethnic group, see Ethnic groups in Brazil. Both terms refer to nationalities. Some adjectives, like "French", can refer to an ethnicity and a nationality, by virtue of nation states. Some, like "American", "Brazilian" or "Swiss" are purely national. Others, like "Kurds", "Tamils" or "Arabs" are purely ethnic. Ethnogenesis means that these adjectives may shift from one category to another over the centuries, such as "British" currently moving from the "Swiss" to the "French" category. I'm sorry, but is this in any way controversial or unclear?
My own group, the Swiss, have never been an "ethnic group". At whichever point "the Danes" become a "multiethnic society", they cease being an ethnic group, that's the entire point of this discussion, isn't it? You can't be a "multiethnic ethnic group", that's another contradiction in terms. --dab (𒁳) 08:52, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Even though american censuses only see latinos as having a separate ethnic identity worthy of singling out there are a lot of literature about why for example african americans are an ethnic group within american society, obviosuly a lot of sociologists also haven't understood what ethnicity is all about since studies can be written about afro-american ethnicity. There are also studies about American ethnicity - that is what is general for americans and what makes them have identities separate from other nationalgroups - I acknowledge that being american is often treated and thought of as a kind of macroethnicity or an emergent ethnicity. Also danish society (the society of the nationstate denmark) can be composed of different ethnic groups in which case it becomes a multiethnic society or of one ethnic group in which case it is an ethnically based nation state.·Maunus·ƛ· 09:12, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Also a consequence of your way of deinfining ethnicity would be that there are many people in the world without any ethnicity. For example all of the brazilians or americans who have no other way of defining themselves as belonging to an ethnic group than referring to themselves as brazilians or americans.·Maunus·ƛ· 09:14, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
first of all, I see no problem with the assumption that not everyone is a member of an ethnic group. Nothing in our definitinons precludes that. In fact, anyone growing up in isolation (feral children) will necessarily not belong to any group, and by extension (correctly applied this time, as in a fortiori) not to any ethnic group.
secondly, I obviously grant the existence of overlapping hierarchies of ethnic macrogroups and ethnic subgroups. Yes they exist. Which means we need to discuss them, after presenting a general definition. Examples are, say, the English within the British identity, the Breton within the French identity, the Bavarian within the German identity, etc. etc. etc. "Emerging ethnicities" like the American (very faintly yet, at best?) or the British one are very useful in illustrating the process of ethnogenesis and the nature of the concept. The first step towards a new round of ethnogenesis will probably precisely be an accumulation of ethnos-less individuals. As was the case with the Alamanni in the 3rd century. The Swiss can get along very well without an ethnic identity, and of course endogamy isn't enough, if there is no ethnic self-identification, there isn't any ethnos. Of course there is a national "Swiss" identity rather similar to an ethnic one, but already for missing a common language, I doubt this can be considered an ethnic identity. --dab (𒁳) 09:37, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

btw, why do you say "obviosuly a lot of sociologists also haven't understood what ethnicity is all about since studies can be written about afro-american ethnicity"? Language, check. Culture, check. Endogamy/descent, check. Why shouldn't they be considered an ethnic group? If there is disagreement, fine, but what, do you imply, has been misunderstood by sociologists making this classification? --dab (𒁳) 09:44, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

I think with that remark I was back thinking about common origins as a being neolithic, so this doesn't make a good point. I suppose you could argue that there is a common ancestry or at least a myth of one. However I think your idea that some people are ethno-less is highly controversial in the view of social anthropology, everyone (except feral children) belong to a group and identify with that group and for some people that group. This is back to the issues of the quote that states that "ethnicity is a basic experience for all human beings". Read the quotes below by Hylland Eriksen and you'll see that the social definition of ethnicity does not imply much other than a sense of belonging to a group.·Maunus·ƛ· 09:52, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
yeah, everyone (bar pathological cases) is a member of several groups. family, peer group, kin, etc. But that's not necessarily ethnic, or you would be saying "ethnic group" is synonymous with social group. The fact that we keep falling into the "ancestry"="deep neolithic national mysticism" trap is significant. antiquity frenzy is common in national mysticism, and we've all heard ethnic nationalists push the notion of "ancestry" to the ridiculous. We need to make clear that by "common ancestry" we are talking in terms of centuries, not millennia. Note that tracing 20 generations (some 400 years), an individual will have up to a million ancestors, which is more than enough to connect him or her to most other members of his or her group. Even 10 generations should be enough to make you related to pretty much everyone in your endogamous group. There is no need to consider more than a couple of centuries for the purposes of "common ancestry". --dab (𒁳) 09:57, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

Approaching a definition. Quotations:

  • "In everyday language, the word ethnicity still has a ring of "minority issues" and "race relations", but in social anthropology, it refers to aspects of relationships between groups which consider themselves, and are regarded by others, as being culturally distinctive. Although it is true that "the discourse concerning ethnicity tends to concern itself with subnational units, or minorities of some kind or another" (Chapman et al., 1989: 17), majorities and dominant peoples are no less "ethnic" than minorities. This will be particularly evident in Chapters 6 and 7, which discuss nationalism and minority-majority relationships."Description of contents of Hylland Eriksens "Ethnicity and Nationalism"
  • "If influential people in a society had developed a similar theory about the hereditary personality traits of redhaired people, and if that theory gained social and cultural significance, "redhead studies" would for similar reasons have become a field of academic research, even if the researchers themselves did not agree that redheads were different from others in a relevant way. In societies where they are important, ideas of race may therefore be studied as part of local discourses on ethnicity."Description of contents of Hylland Eriksens "Ethnicity and Nationalism"
  • " Should the study of race relations, in this meaning of the word, be distinguished from the study of ethnicity or ethnic relations? Pierre van den Berghe (1983) does not think so, but would rather regard "race" relations as a special case of ethnicity. Others, among them Michael Banton (1967), have argued the need to distinguish between race and ethnicity. In Banton's view, race refers to the categorisation of people, while ethnicity has to do with group identification. He argues that "ethnicity is generally more concerned with the identification of 'us', while racism is more oriented to the categorisation of 'them'" (cf. Jenkins, 1986: 177). However, ethnicity can assume many forms, and since ethnic ideologies tend to stress common descent among their members, the distinction between race and ethnicity is a problematic one, even if Banton's distinction between groups and categories can be useful (cf. Chapter 3). I shall not, therefore, distinguish between race relations and ethnicity. Ideas of "race" may or may not form part of ethnic ideologies, and their presence or absence does not seem a decisive factor in interethnic relations. "Description of contents of Hylland Eriksens "Ethnicity and Nationalism"
  • "Ethnicity is an aspect of social relationship between agents who consider themselves as being culturally distinctive from members of other groups with whom they have a minimum of regular interaction. It can thus also be defined as a social identity (based on a contrast vis-a-vis others) characterised by metaphoric or fictive kinship (Yelvington, 1991: 168). When cultural differences regularly make a difference in interaction between members of groups, the social relationship has an ethnic element. Ethnicity refers both to aspects of gain and loss in interaction, and to aspects of meaning in the creation of identity. In this way, it has a political, organisational aspect as well as a symbolic one.
Ethnic groups tend to have myths of common origin, and they nearly always have ideologies encouraging endogamy, which may nevertheless be of highly varying practical importance."Description of contents of Hylland Eriksens "Ethnicity and Nationalism"

·Maunus·ƛ· 09:45, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

the "ring of minority issues" quote is US-specific (in the US, "ethnic" means "member of a minority"). The "redhead" quote is facetious. The other quotes contain good material,

add language, and we can build a perfectly sane outline of the concept from these points. --dab (𒁳) 09:51, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

I don't think the minority issue overtones to the word ethnic in popular usage is america specific, I think it holds in most of europe too at least in Denmark and probably also Norway (Hylland Eriksen is norwegian)·Maunus·ƛ· 09:54, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Below I provide an important quote that I missed to include which shows that sometimes none of the criteria you extracted from the paragraphs above are necessary for defining an ethnicity:
  • "The word "ethnic group" has come to mean something like "a people". But what is a people? Does the population of Britain constitute a people, does it comprise several peoples (as Nairn, 1977, tends to argue), or does it rather form part of a Germanic, or an English-speaking, or a European people? All of these positions may have their defenders, and this very ambiguity in the designation of peoples has been taken on as a challenge by anthropologists. In a study of ethnic relations in Thailand, Michael Moerman (1965) asks himself: "Who are the Lue?" The Lue were the ethnic group his research focused on, but when he tried to describe who they were - in which ways they were distinctive from other ethnic groups - he quickly ran into trouble. His problem, a very common one in contemporary social anthropology, concerned the boundaries of the group. After listing a number of criteria commonly used by anthropologists to demarcate cultural groups, such as language, political organisation and territorial contiguity, he states: "Since language, culture, political organization, etc., do not correlate completely, the units delimited by one criterion do not coincide with the units delimited by another" (Moerman, 1965: 1215). When he asked individual Lue what were their typical characteristics, they would mention cultural traits which they in fact shared with other, neighbouring groups. They lived in close interaction with other groups in the area; they had no exclusive livelihood, no exclusive language, no exclusive customs, no exclusive religion. Why was it appropriate to describe them as an ethnic group? After posing these problems, Moerman was forced to conclude that "[s]omeone is Lue by virtue of believing and calling himself Lue and of acting in ways that validate his Lueness" (Moerman, 1965: 1219). Being unable to argue that this "Lueness" can be defined with reference to objective cultural features or clear-cut boundaries, Moerman defines it as an emic category of ascription. This way of delineating ethnic groups has become very influential in social anthropology (cf. Chapter 3)."Description of contents of Hylland Eriksens "Ethnicity and Nationalism"·Maunus·ƛ· 09:57, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
sigh, these are the "boundary conditions" I keep trying to relegate to after the presentation of a definition. You cannot introduce a concept by focussing on the borderline cases. Look, every concept has grey areas at its boundaries, "ethnic group" isn't special in that. You still need to give a workable definition first, and sort out the problems with the fraying fringes later. We need an entire paragraph dedicated to ethnogenesis. Since a group can become ethnic or cease to be ethnic, it is obvious that there will be doubtful cases that are "nearly" or "hardly" ethnic and open to debate. Why is this a problem? Why can't we say, the notion involves origin myths, endogamy and kinship, cultural and linguistic identity, and is consequently difficult to separate from either "race" or "tribe", and after that state that hey, for some groups, it may be difficult or controversial to decide on their "ethnic" nature. That's just the way it is. We aren't supposed to make it any more clear-cut than reality. dab (𒁳) 10:05, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
they are boundary conditions only becayuse they don't conform to your interpretation of what defines ethnicity - the thing is that these "boundary cases" show that something else apart from your three pillars of language, culture and endogamy is at the root of ethnicity namely group identity and belonging. Shared language, culture and ancestry are derived from this not the other way round.·Maunus·ƛ· 10:10, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
BTW: I think that it is a VERy good idea to discuss ethnicity in relation to other concepts.·Maunus·ƛ· 10:41, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

"my" interpretation? I do not make any assumption as to the "root" of the concept. You seem to implicitly assume that there is some "real" essence to the term that has a sort of Platonic existence "apart" from its manifestations. These "boundary cases" show no such thing. They show that it is possible to disagree on individual cases, nothing else. Obviously an ethnic group involves group identity, just like any other social group you can think of, this isn't helpful at all. --dab (𒁳) 11:06, 29 July 2008 (UTC)


Dieter asked me to name just one ethnic group that is not endogamous. I will neam nine: the Desana, the Tukano, the Bara, the Pira-Tapuyo, the Wanano, the Karapana, the Tuyuka, the Tatuyo, and the Taiwano. Also, I am sure that since reading Needham's classic essay on marriage systems he understands that it is essential to say whether a group has a prescriptive rule or a preference. Most ethnic groups have a preference for endogamy but are not stricley endogamous, the Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda are good examples. By the way, Dieter, thanks for WP:AGF. Slrubenstein | Talk 20:43, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

There are even ethnic groups that prefer exogamy like the matses.·Maunus·ƛ· 07:05, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
yes I see. a matter of definition. "tribe", "caste", "ethnicity". As has become usual by now, Slr debunks claims I have never made in the first place. Obviously no ethnic group will ever be "strictly" endogamous, unless by necessity, if stuck on some island or something.
I can only repeat what I've been trying to say all along. In order to present a coherent discussion of this complex topic, we first need a general definition of the term (yes, that will involve dictionaries!), which can then be modified by caveats about special cases, deconstructivism, and anecdotes on exotic exceptions. I maintain that any working definition will involve (a) language, (b) culture, (c) [notions of] ancestry (in any order of your choice). It is only after presenting such a definition that it will make sense to discuss the caveats of ethnologists who have been trying to apply the concept to minor jungle tribes close to extinction. --dab (𒁳) 08:46, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Rather I would say that it makes no sense to talk about defining ethnicity if we are not prepared to incorporate the ethnicity concepts of "minor jungle societies" into that definition. Read the quote above about the Lue ethnic group who have no exclusive language, no exclusive culture and no exclusive ancestry but still form a functioning ethnicity and you'll see that neither of your three pillars of ethnicity are sufficient or necessary to compose an ethnicity. ·Maunus·ƛ· 10:07, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
this reminds me of discussions about Hinduism. There is no reason Hinduism should be considered a single, exclusive religion (as opposed to several religions, or part of a larger group of Indian religions) other than the self-identification of adherents. Is this about the Dai people? We can discuss whether they are "an ethnic group", but I really don't see why this should affect our definition. We can present it as a case study of where the notion may break down, but I really fail to see the relevance of such cases in defining 'ethnic group' in the first place. "Ethnicity" generally refers to groups of a few million, or at least a few 100,000 people. How many people today live in tribal societies? Why does it surprise you that the nature of these groups is somewhat different from that of the world's major ethnic groups? We can link the tribe article, but we don't need to torture ourselves to cover tribal societies here. dab (𒁳) 10:23, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

Once again, dab distorts what I wrote and muddies the woters. He asked for examples of ethnic groups and I gave them to him (not castes!) Also, he wrotes "yes I see. a matter of definition. "tribe", "caste", "ethnicity". As has become usual by now, Slr debunks claims I have never made in the first place. Obviously no ethnic group will ever be "strictly" endogamous, unless by necessity, if stuck on some island or something." This is getting silly. I never used the word "strictly." I grant that many ethnic groups may have an endogamy rule. All I said was (1) not all (and I age exceptions) and that among those who have an endogamy rule, we need to distinguish between two types of rule, preferential or prescriptive. dab, it you do not understand what I mean ask me and I will explain it. But your island analogy is irrelevant and unhelpful. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:36, 29 July 2008 (UTC)


I think it transpires that we need to introduce the concept of "ethnicity" in relation to related terms, viz. nation (nationality), tribe, race and people. All these terms overlap. As do most terms in natural language. I fail to see the problem. --dab (𒁳) 10:28, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

The problem is not that they overlap, this is just something we need to take into account when describing what ethnicity is, but the fact that they overlap does mean that no simple definition pinning put a few general characteristics of ethnicity will capture what socioal scientists mean when they talk about ethnicity. Also I think it is important that a general definition of ethnicity is valid at all times and in all societies - not just in modern large ethnicities. Otherwise a historical discussion of the concept will break down, or descriptions of ethnic groups that don't conform to the traits of ethnicities can be adversely affected (e.g. indigenous groups could be counted as non ethnicities which would affect their situation adversely). I prefer starting out with a large and vague defitioon that allows all the possible cases and then providing some general characteristics of ethnicity while stating that none of them are necessary or sufficient and that ethnicity as a concept is larger than the sum of those parts. BTW: I am enjoying this discussion I think it will be very fruitful for the development of this article into something really good.·Maunus·ƛ· 10:35, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
"ethnicity" is a modern concept, which derives from the Greco-Roman terms of ethnos or natio. It isn't clear that it can be applied to historical populations without modification. Just like modern nations aren't equivalent to nationes. If you want to discuss this diachronically, you are welcome to, but you open an entirely new can of worms, which you should do in a separate section. There is no guarantee that "ethnicity" will be "valid at all times and in all societies", that's for you to establish if you want to make the point. I do have the impression that you are being overly inclusive here, already from your comment on how you find it problematic if we assume individuals who aren't members of any ethnic group.
I have no fixed opinion on this. What I insist on is that we proceed as usual in terms of article structure. First we shall quote a general definition taken from notable tertiary literature such as a good encyclopedia or a good dictionary. Then we can lay out the gory details we found in secondary literature. It is futile to attempt to come up with our own definition that takes into account all tidbits we happened to have come up with. This is a case, if there ever was one, where we proceed from the general to the specific, or from the tertiary to the secondary. I seriously suggest we start out by presenting the OED definition, and then go on to refine it. --dab (𒁳) 10:51, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
  • Encarta: "a large group of people who share a national, racial, linguistic, or religious heritage"
  • Compact Oxford: "relating to a group of people having a common national or cultural tradition"
  • MW: "large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background "
  • Cambridge: "of a national or racial group of people"
  • OED: "having common racial, cultural, religious, or linguistic characteristics"

these definitions consistently invoke race, tribe or nation, and require tradition or heritage of a cultural or linguistic nature. Note how several definitions insist on "large" groups to preclude the inclusion of tiny tribes or communities at the village level. That's the definition of the term. There is no need to burden it with problematic cases from the beginning. Problematic and borderline cases like the Lue can be discussed later, but they do not impinge on the definition. --dab (𒁳) 11:02, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

I think the Hylland Eriksen quotes are much much more relevant.·Maunus·ƛ· 11:05, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Maunus, they are an essay. I like them, they are certainly quotable quotes, but they aren't useful for a definition. We should by all means discuss them, after we have defined the term. We need to make clear what Eriksen is talking about in the first place before we can acquaint the reader with his opinions. --dab (𒁳) 11:10, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
They are not an essay they are paraphrases of material from a book about ethnicity written by one of the most prominent social anthropologists working with the concept. Of course quotes form the actual book is preferable but I won't get my hands on that one untill next week sometime.·Maunus·ƛ· 11:48, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a dictionary, and dictionary definitions as often obscure scholarly concepts as not. Dictionaries are guides to spelling and etymology more than anything else, and guides to popular usage. Encyclopedias on the other hand are compendia of knowledge, not just popular usage, and in a discussion of a concept that has been developed and analyzed at length largely by anthropologists and sociologists and to a somewhat lesser degree by historians and political scientists, an encyclopedia article should provide readers with a good account of the scholarship. And the introduction to the article whould introduce the accounts of the scholarship. And definitions should help people who read the scholarship. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:43, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

I disagree that the most important thing to have in an article is a strict definition of the topic. Some concepts are simply to complex or used with too many different definitions to provide one. Ethnicity in my opinion is definitely such a concept. I think the best solution would be to state something vague and general along the lines that "Ethnicity is a concept pertaining to the social construction of boundaries between social groups" And then procede to define some of the traits that are generally held to be significant to the concept such as shared language, culture and ancestry.·Maunus·ƛ· 13:11, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
That sounds right to me. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:36, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
  • "He [Ashely Montagu] claims that "ethnic group," being noncomital and of uncertain meaning, would raise questions and clarify thinking. The term "ethnic group" is given cultural meaning by anthropologists and sociologists to clarify the idea that groups are identified by cultural beliefs, not by biological differences." Lieberman, Littlefield and Reynolds, "the debate over race: Thirty years and two centuries later" in Race and IQ, Ashley Montagu (ed).
  • "Currently, the concept of the "ethnic group" has been adopted as an acceptable alternative to the more loaded terms used to describe human groupings...the deffinition of such groups now depends not on outsiders such as anthropologists, but on self-definition, by the group in question..There are many competing theories and interpretations of ethnicity. The definition of an ethnic identity used here is that proposed by Siân Jones ...that aspect of a person's self-conceptualization which results from identification with a broader group in opposition to others, on the basis of perceived common descent. Those group identities which currently we call 'ethnicities' are extraordinarily varied in nature, and often not readily separable from other dimentions of identity such as rank, gender and notably certain religions (e.r. Islam and Judaism)." Simon James The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention"
  • "Ideologies of ethnicity also base collective identity on shared descent, usually relating to a common regional or national origin. Language, dress, occupational specialisation, and religion, among other things, may also be a part of an ethnic identity. Since groups are always defined vis-á-vis other ethnic groups, the mere fact of difference is what is often more important than anything else. thus the specific content of ethnic identities may shift wildly with time, and what may really be stake is not any profound difference in culture or world view, but how a particular ethnic group membership allows access to scarce resources or how it can be used by leaders to further their political goals. Consequently we see that an ethnic affiliation is often one of a series of group memberships individuals maintain, which are contextually activated, often in response to strategic interests." John Monaghan and Peter Just "Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction"
  • "in anthropological usage, 'ethnicity' stresses an individuals own perception of identity and group membership in addition to the externally imposed cultural or genetic definition. An example of the former would be 'I am "Welsh" because I see myself as Welsh' Stephen Oppenheimer the Origins of the British: A genetic detective story.

There are probably many more such quotes that could apply, but what is clear is that there is no "standard" definition of ethnicity, and it is certainly not a biological phenomenon. It is used as a specific social construct, just as "race" is a social construct, so is "ethnic group", but "race" is discredited as a term because it is so often erroneously associated biological descent. Alun (talk) 13:24, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

The Monaghan and Just quote fits in squarely with what I learned in graduate school, as well as in a summer research seminar I participated in in pscyhology. I have not read their book actually, but I know it is well-considered by other anthropologists. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:03, 30 July 2008 (UTC)
so, "shared descent, usually relating to a common regional or national origin, besides language, dress, occupational specialisation, and religion, among other things"
well, great, that's pretty much what I have been saying all along, isn't it? That's precisely what's in all the dictionary definitions I have given. Can we then please just elevate the Monaghan+Just reference to informing our "definition"? Pretty much every definition we've seen names shared descent, langauge and religion. You may throw in "and dress, among other things" if you like, but I really think we've established beyond reasonable doubt that "shared descent, language, religion" are the main criteria defining this topic. As, of course, seen in any dictionary, but we can certainly quote Monaghan+Just instead. It is also important to note that these identities can, of course "shift wildly with time" (ethnogenesis). --dab (𒁳) 08:12, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

wow. You are really making a splendid mess of things, aren't you. If you were trying to actively obfuscate the topic, I don't think the article would be looking much different. I do not doubt your good faith, or your erudition, but you quite apparently aren't up to the task of, or even interested in, compiling an article that is at all readable or useful. Lol, so race is "often erroneously associated biological descent"? This is like a time machine back to the 1980s and the flowering of postmodernist agnosticism. Slrubenstein, yes, there are "ideologies of ethnicity". I of all people on Wikipedia know this. But there are also ethnicities. What you are trying to do is making the distinction between the two impossible. This is armchair ethnology. Go to Transylvania, to Kosovo, to Anatolia, and see how "ethnicity" is a perfectly solid concept clear to every child and very much part of reality, without all this relativist bullshit. Now since I will, of course, again be misconstrued as saying I dispute the validity of all your scholarship: I am not. I am criticizing the mode of presentation in this article. Look at religion. Clearly entirely a "social construct", and yet we manage to have a useful "definition" section that doesn't immediately descend into deconstruction-and-religion, and actually manages to outline what the topic is about. This article begins its "definition" section by saying

"the whole conception of ethnic groups is so complex and so vague that it might be good to abandon it altogether."

This is a sad joke. Slrubenstein, I directly challenge your statement that

Wikipedia is not a dictionary, and dictionary definitions as often obscure scholarly concepts as not. Dictionaries are guides to spelling and etymology more than anything else, and guides to popular usage.

Reference to WP:DICT is purely disingenious in this context. Your sweeping naive statement on "dictionaries" is completely untenable. You consistently fail to recognize that the OED is an academic publication of the first order which does record "popular usage" as well as expert jargon. If there is any dispute as to how to arrange the definition of any English word (including "ethnicity"), your first stop will be the OED, with postmodernist caveats coming later, not first. I also humbly submit that the field primarily relevant to this topic is ethnology / ethnography, not "sociology and social theory". What you are trying to conjure up is the impression that "ethnography" isn't even a valid field, since it is the attempt of charting something that has no existence in the first place. dab (𒁳) 07:54, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

I am pretty sure it was Wobble who referred to "ideologies of ethnicity," not me (although it is obvious to me that different ways of conceiving ethnicity will lead one to classify actual people differently). Also, I have no idea what postmodernism has to do with any of this. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:38, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

I thought we had been over this. 1. Ethnology/Ethnography are not the most relevant fields for discussing the concept of ethnicity in spite of their names beginning with ethn-. As far as I know neither ethnography or ethnology provide definitions or understandings of ethnicity that differ from the views of their mother disciplines within sociology and anthropology. I have for example never read so much Barth or Hylland Eriksen as I did when taking a semester of ethnographic field methods at the department of ethnology. No one states that ethnicity doesn't exist - only that it doesn't exist apriori. Of course ethnicity is real in people lives not only on the west bank or in the balkans but in every persons life when they define who are "us" and who are "them" . This has nothing to do with the definition of ethnicity as a social construct separate from (but intertwined with) genetic history of populations. Like slbr I disagree that the OED definition for a concept like this is valuable enough to be given primacy in the lead. However caveats, postmodernist or not, are necessary to make the lead objective - because there are varying viewpoints about how to define ethnicity. The weber quote is a perfectly good way to show to the reader that there is no 1 definitive definition of this concept and that what he will continue to read are in fact different view points belonging in different historical periods and different academic milieus. ·Maunus·ƛ· 05:19, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

It is simply unbelievable to pass this cultural marxist stuff as "research":

"The opposing interests that divide the working classes are further reinforced through appeals to "racial" and "ethnic" distinctions. Such appeals serve to allocate different categories of workers to rungs on the scale of labor markets, relegating stigmatized populations to the lower levels and insulating the higher echelons from competition from below. Capitalism did not create all the distinctions of ethnicity and race that function to set off categories of workers from one another. It is, nevertheless, the process of labor mobilization under capitalism that imparts to these distinctions their effective values. In this regard, distinctions of "race" have implications rather different from "ethnic" variations. Racial distinctions, such as "Indian" or "Negro," are the outcome of the subjugation of populations in the course of European mercantile expansion. The term Indian stands for the conquered populations of the New World, in disregard of any cultural or physical differences among Native Americans. Negro similarly serves as a cover term for the culturally and physically variable African populations that furnished slaves, as well as for the slaves themselves. Indians are conquered people who could be forced to labor or pay tribute; Negroes are "hewers of wood and drawers of water", obtained in violence and put to work under coercion. These two terms thus single out for primary attention the historic fact that these populations were made to labor in servitude to support a new class of overlords. Simultaneously, the terms disregard cultural and physical differences within each large category, denying any constituent group political, economic, or ideological identity of its own. Racial terms mirror the political process by which populations of whole continents were turned into providers of coerced surplus labor. Under capitalism these terms did not lose their association with civil-disability. They continue to invoke supposed descent from such subjugated populations so as to deny their putative descendents access to upper segments of the labor market. "Indians" and "Negroes" are thus confined to the lower ranks of the industrial army or depressed into the industrial reserve. The function of racial categories within capitalism is exclusionary. They stigmatize groups in order to exclude them from more highly paid jobs and from access to the information needed for their execution. They insulate the more advantaged workers against competition from below, making it difficult for employers to use stigmatized populations as cheaper substitutes or as strikebreakers. Finally, they weaken the ability of such groups to mobilize politically on their own behalf by forcing them back into casual employment and thereby intensifying competition among them for scarce and shifting resources. While the categories of race serve primarily to exclude people from all but the lower echelons of the industrial army, ethnic categories express the ways that particular populations came to relate themselves to given segments of the labor market. Such categories emerge from two sources, one external to the group in question, the other internal. As each cohort entered the industrial process, outsiders were able to categorize it in terms of putative provenance and supposed affinity to particular segments of the labor market. At the same time, members of the cohort itself came to value membership in the group thus defined, as a qualification for establishing economic and political claims. Such ethnicities rarely coincided with the initial self-identification of the industrial recruits, who thought of themselves as Hanovarians or Bavarians rather than as Germans, as members of their village or their parish (okiloca) rather than as Poles, as Tonga or yao rather than "Nyasalanders." The more comprehensive categories emerged only as particular cohorts of workers gained access to different segments of the labor market and began to treat their access as a resource to be defended both socially and politically. Such ethnicities are therefore not "primordial" social relationships. They are historical products of labor market segmentation under the capitalist mode." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:02, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

request for people who watch this page

Please comment Here: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Non-exclusive ethnic group Thanks, Slrubenstein | Talk 16:14, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Ethnicity and race

Ethnicity and race are related concepts in that both are usually defined in terms of shared genealogy.[1] The citation directs to here. The reference given clearly contradicts the assertion. Any reason why this statement of fact should be allowed to stand as is? RashersTierney (talk) 22:08, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

I for one have no objection to making a change. It is definitely a mistake to equate race and ethnicity, although in some cases the words are used interchangable (I wish we had a good section on how and why). Race is often conceived of i terms of genealogy but not always. Ethnicity may be thought of in terms of "primordial ties" including relatedness, but not always ... and I have never seen it defined in terms of a genealogy. You have my support to make what changes you see fit. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:40, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

two mainstream approaches

A recent edit proposes that Hutchinson posits 'primordialism' as a mainstream concept. This is entirely untrue and misleading. In fact on p50, he Eller and Reed (The Poverty of Primordialism) go so far as to state that it is a fallacy and "a bankrupt concept for the analysis and description of ethnicity." RashersTierney (talk) 23:35, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
Strike out my misreading. RashersTierney (talk) 11:25, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Apparently it is; the editors say literally: "For convenience, we can divide the existing approaches to 'ethnicity' into two broad camps, and a number of alternative approaches." I think it is important to note that this statement comes from the introduction to the volume, which tries to give a general overview of the current ideas on ethnicity, without passing any professional judgment. Iblardi (talk) 23:53, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
I take your point. My mistake was in not recognising this series of essays as written by different authors with opposing views, and coming from different academic disciplines. As you can probably tell, its not a position I have much time for, but you were quite right in your edit and supporting ref. RashersTierney (talk) 00:51, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
My understanding is that among political scientists and some social psychologists "primordialism" is a major "theory" of ethnicity, whereas for anthropologists and most sociologists it is a non-theory or bad or bankrupt theory, although some consider it a useful way to describe ethnicity. The key point here is NPOV: provide multiple views and properly identify and contextualize them. This means going beyond statements like "there are two main views of ethnicity" to "According to some, there are two main views of ethnicity." If we can be carefull about this stuff we should be able to avoid conflicts. Slrubenstein | Talk 02:47, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

I see this comment as following from my previous one: I think this article has gotten too hung up on th definition of ethnicty. I would suggest instead organizing it around diferent questions about "ethnicity." "What is the definition of ethnicity?" is only one such question - some people are asking it and have staked out different answers. But some people assume a definition of ethnicity and what really distinguishes them is that they are asking a different question; some people may not even care to ask what the definition is.
Be that as it may it sounds that Iblardi and Rashers have on valuable source - I suspect that the full richness of it will not come from the introduction but from different case-studies within it. Slrubenstein | Talk 02:58, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
The various social science disciplines take fundamentally incompatible approaches to their areas of study and 'ethnicity' is no different than others in that regard. With a book like Hutchinson's, at least everybody gets a chance to lay out their wares in distinct essays and the reader will judge on the basis of their own point of view (POV). A wikipedia article, I think, cannot follow that format, with different points of view interposed at random, or it will soon become a jigsaw where the pieces do not knit. Arguments cannot be expected to be consistent between disciplines. Nor can we just say that the 'truth' lies somewhere between two or more contradictory perspectives. I will need to examine Wiki guidelines on this a little more before suggesting how this dilemma can be approached within an encyclopaedic article. RashersTierney (talk) 11:25, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
I do not know the book by Hutchinson but it does sound like a very valuable resource. It may be necessary to have separate sections on ethnicity in one discipline and ethnicity in another. My own sense, however, is that what is important is not discipline per se but rather larger paradigms - I mean, interpretive approaches, positivist approaches, and critical theory. Even within sociology one can find people divided along these lines, and a positivist sociologist and a postivist political scientist may have the same view of ethnicity, which is different from say an anthropologist and a political scientist who work within critical theory. This is just a suggestion as an alternative to distinguishing between views according to discipline. I agree with RashersTierney's larger point that there are self-contained conversations within the academy leading to incommensurate debates. My suggestion distinct "questions" as a way of organizing this article was one solution to this problem. Dividing it into positivist, interpretive, and critical views may be another. Or we may just have to divide it into views accordiing to differnt disciplines. Anyway, I welcome, RashersTierney's concerns and willingess to address this. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:51, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Ethnicity By John Hutchinson, Anthony D. Smith with limited search at Amazon RashersTierney (talk) 16:24, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, I think it would be great if someone or people could add arguments and case-studies from this book - but I also wish people could do the same for this book on identity edited by Stuart Hall and someone else too. I do not have either book on hand, but I would think the next step in developing this into a really full article would be in drawing on these two books. We just need to bear in mind that each book represents a variety of views, and this article needs to identify and contextualize each one adequately. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:42, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

I think our job is to distinguish clearly between

  • the implication that primordialism is "true" (while it is, of course, "not even wrong" -- what does nations are ancient, natural phenomena even mean?)
  • the assertion that it is true that the notion of "primordialism" is a notable factor in the construction of ethnic identity

meaning, "primordialism" isn't notable because it is "true" but because it is de facto a major component of the notion under discussion here. --dab (𒁳) 11:48, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

I think dab you are responding to Rashers. But I point out: Wikipedia is about truth, not verifiabilityverifiability, not "truth". We cannot concern ourselves with the question of whether primordialism is a notable factor in ethnicity and what the implications of that would be. We can only concern ourselves with finding out whether any notable scholars have believed this, to what extent the view is mainstream, minority, or fringe, and what they mean/have meant. Is this what you mean about a "de facto" componenent of the notion? You have to add, "according to some." Shihls and Geertz and some political scientists have made the concept (whatever it means) an important part of their theories. But for many others, it is not at all a part of their theories. Let's stick to notable sources. We have two books mentioned above. Some chapters may mention primordia. others will not, indeed, will take wholely other approaches. Unfortunately I do not have access to either one. Does anyone? Slrubenstein | Talk 14:51, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
I think Wikipedia concerns itself as much with perception as with 'truth'. This is essentially why I withdrew my objection to Iblardi's edit. This article is not an essay, and IMO Dbachmann's distinction is valid. RashersTierney (talk) 15:20, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
I MISWROTRE!!!! I meant to signal our NPOV and V policies and got it all wrong! Sorry 9see strike-out above). i agree it is not an essay, it must be an article based on notable and reliable sources. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:40, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Slrubenstein, you may not have understood what I meant. Otherwise I don't see why you should feel compelled to lecture me about WP:V. Shihls and Geertz and some political scientists have made the concept (whatever it means) an important part of their theories. My comment relates to the "whatever it means" part. Perhaps you should look into that, and allow for the possibility that there are some smart people out there other than yourself. Let me quote:

In the primordialist view, the participant perceives ethnic ties collectively, as an externally given, even coërcive, social bond. The instrumentalist approach, on the other hand, treats ethnicity primarily as an ad-hoc element of a political strategy, used as a resource for interest groups for achieving secondary goals such as, for instance, an increase in wealth, power or status

I call {{huh}}: this is almost unreadable. What it is actually saying is that "some people think that ethnic identity arises from actual belief in ethnic essense, while others think that ethnic identity is just a political tool". My comment pointed out the possible confusion between the theory that ethnicity is based on belief in "eternal ethnic essence" and the "theory" that ethnicity is "eternal ethnic essence". Quite a difference (compare "Christianity is based on the belief in Christ as the Son of God" (fact) vs. "Christianity is about Christ the Son of God" (pov)). --dab (𒁳) 16:06, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Tossing in my tuppence's worth. I have been thinking about how to improve this article for quite some time, never finding the best way. However, I am quite happy with this discussion everyone seems to be arguing towards a better article with a more neutral description based on good sources (I don't know the Hutchinson source or have acces to it at present, but it seems very adequate). I understand dab to mean that he finds it important to distinguish between the view point of scientists saying "ethnicity is just a construction with no "primordial" basis" and the most common laymans viewpoint which is that ethnicity is something nearly monolithic, primordial and deeply entrenched. I then saw Slbr caution that the laymans view can only be represented in the article in so far as its existence is mentioned in the sources, which is of course right. But on the other hand I don't think this dichotomy will be difficult to source, I think it is mentioned a few times in the Hylland Eriksen source I mentioned a lot in the discussions above. I want to thank RashersTierney for taking an interest in the article and fomenting good discussion about how to improve it.·Maunus·ƛ· 06:34, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
I am relatively new to these theories so correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't these layman's believes the subject of the primordialist viewpont? Certainly Eriksen could not be called a primordialist? Iblardi (talk) 08:24, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, thats what I was trying to say.·Maunus·ƛ· 09:00, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

dab, obviously I did not understand you but my comment was made in good faith and I wish you would not take it personally - your comment may have occassioned my comment, but I was not lecturing YOU, I was commenting for everyone. Now that i (think) I understand your comment better I have another comment: there is a third choice, besides the two you mention - that the notion of primordialism is important to some conceptions of ethnicity. We cannot get around the fact that there is no consensus definition or theory of ethnicity, and this article needs to provide multiple definitions/theories. dab is right that regardless of whether it is "true" or not, the idea of primordialism is important ... but not to any or all theories of the construction of identity, only to some. dab clarifies that he is also reacting to what he considers poor/unclear explanation of these theories. i agree with him. I edited to add the sources and clarify that there were different debates, not just one ... but I did not edit the explanations of the views because I do not have the time or the sources at hand. Introductions ought to use summary style and I think the summaries of these debates and different views won't be clear to everyone in the lead, but I do think the body of the article needs to explain very clearly what each of these theories are, in context. I hope other editors who have access to the main sources will work on this. Of course i agree with dab that we should strive for clarity and well-written prose. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:46, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Also, I specifically agree with dab's point, "My comment pointed out the possible confusion between the theory that ethnicity is based on belief in "eternal ethnic essence" and the "theory" that ethnicity is "eternal ethnic essence"." I have to admit, I am unclear about this myself because most of my readings on ethnicity are not from "primordialists." I hope thee are editors who have access to Geertz and Smith's books, and can clarify this important issue. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:49, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Its not all that difficult to locate work by Clifford Geertz on the web. This paper, PRIMORDIAL LOYALTIES AND STANDING ENTITITES: is particularly brimming with Anthropological mumbo jumbo just one example . Knock yourself out. RashersTierney (talk) 00:25, 28 November 2008 (UTC)


I have rewritten the definition section and changed the section about race and ethnicity. I have tried to incorporate the results of the discussions above. The main focus however is on showing how the concept of ethnicity hasn't got one single definition but that as a theoretical concept it has evolved and different sociological thinkers have defined it differently with different approaches. When you have had the chance to comment on and discuss my changes I have planned to change the lead to reflect the changes in the definition section. ·Maunus·ƛ· 08:30, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

Comments on the structure

First, I want to thank Maunus (and to a lesser - but still appreciated! - degree, Iblardi) for their tremendous work over the past few days, I think you guys have done much to turn this into a good article. That said, I have some concerns about the structure, and suggestions. I won't make any changes until there has been some discussion.

First, why isn't ethnic stratification in the section on "approaches to understanding ethnicity?" It seems to me that it is an "approach to understanding ethnicity." IE put 3 into 2.2

Second, why not create a section on ethnicity in relation to race and nation, and put that before the section on approaches to understanding ethnicity. IE put sections 3 and 5 into, or before, section 2.1, or in 2 before 2.1? It seems to me that defining or conceptualizing ethnicity involves explaining what makes it different from race or nation.

Now that you guys have expanded the article considerably, I think it is time to reflect on the organization again. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:47, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

I was not nearly done. The reason I hjaven't done anything to the last sections such as "ethnic stratification" is because I haven't come to those yet - and I agree it seems reasonable to put at least some of tha material into the "approaches" section. I don't agree that ethnicity and race should come before the approaches section because I think it is important to be able to refer back to the different approaches when describing the relation between nation/race and ethnicity since the relationship between the concepts vary according to the approach of the scholar.·Maunus·ƛ· 18:20, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

Well, I certainly will not do anything until you have finished your work, I really admire what you are doing. I have a few suggestions - I am not sure what you have in mind as you continue working on this and I am kind of thinking out loud as it were.

The intro refers to Erikson's characterization of two debates. Based on my experience (mostly within anthropology but I have read works by, and discussed the topic with, political scientists, sociologists, and psychologists) it is a very useful way to characterize debates. I think it makes sense to have one section on one debate, one section on another debate, perhaps bracketed by a section on the history/prehistory of the term (which you have largely written), I just mean, a history of the concept prior to the primordialist/instrumentalist debate, and then a section on more recent work on ethnicity i.e. post essentialist/social constructionist debates.

I do think that social scientists use the term as part of a tool-kit that includes in which ethnicity is like race, nation, and culture for some, and it is worth having a section or sections clarifying the distinctions/relationships.

I think that there is a body of work by social scientists on how the linked or associated concepts, ethnicity/nation/race/culture intersect with the very different constructs (or variables) of gender and class, and this may be worth its own section

I think some of what you have already done would easily fit into what I am suggesting. I think some of what you have done could fit but would need modification or elaboration. for example, I have never heard of perennialism, but it sounds like essentialism. I would appreciate more citations, and perhaps clarification about how that fits into the debates Erikson discussed.

Well, these are just some ideas. you are doing the hard work right now so I will defer to you but please consider these and I would be happy to discuss them.

I am not in a position to do any new research for this article. I think you are doing a great job of filling in sections on well-established debates and trends. But I know that there is much new work (I just read a great review of William Fisher's new book on ethnicity in Nepal for example) that should go into a section ... I hope there are others out there who are willing to pitch in! Slrubenstein | Talk 19:38, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

The thing with the clearcut distinction between the two debates that Eriksen gives is that it doesn't figure as such in the sources I have been using. It seems the debate is not as neat as Eriksen seems to suggest. That is why I have so far chosen to have the debates in a single section where multiple views can be played out against eachother. One problem is for example that Geertz seems to espouse both primordialist, constructivist and instrumentalist views all at once - since he says that the primordial character of ethnicity is ascribed by the ethnic groups themselves in order to be able to use ethnicity for their political purposes. These things complicates the debate and I will at least have to make it align tidily in my head before I can clean it up into neat sections describing each contrasting view along with its opponent. A section about the crossrelations between ethnicity/nation/race/culture also seems very necessary but it is likely to be equally complex and will take further efforts to establish. Another problem is that different scholars use different labels for the same things. I don't think perennialism is essentialism, I think essentialism is the naturalist kind of primordialism - Perennialism seems to just be saying that specific ethnicities don't have long lifespans but that there will always be ethnicity in the world since new ones emerge when old ones die. I understand essentialism to be the view that groups are ethnically continuous over long periods of time because of external unchangeable factors like common heritage. I am only beginning to acquire a sense of overview of the matter and I appreciate your comments very much since they can lead me to look in new directions.

I am glad that you find my comments constructive. They are just ideas - obviously we need to follow the sources. I happen to agree with your reading of Geertz. I know that political scientists and psychologists have used Geertz simply to represent a "primordialist" approach (Geertz attributes it to Shihls). Maybe the thing to do with Erikson is to be more specific, that within certain disciplines or the crossroads of certain disciplines certain debates became salient at different times. In other words, there is a genealogy of research on ethnicity that you are adding to which has many strands, and at certain times some people have construed out of this genealogy "debates" as ways of hilighting specific questions, even at the cost of some simplification. I am not sure, it is not easy. Minimally, we need to identify views not just by who by but what discipline and what year, and distinguish these from how those views were used or interpreted or represented by scholars - sometimes from other disciplines, and at later times. Just some thoughts.... Slrubenstein | Talk 22:00, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

need input at Finno-Ugric peoples

Termer and I are having a debate at Finno-Ugric peoples. He's claiming that because the languages are (distantly) related, and because there are a couple Finno-Ugric associations to cover the 'identify' part of the def., that Finno-Ugric is an ethnic group. According to this logic, religions like Baha'ism make Homo sapiens an ethnic group, and pet identification makes Mammalia an ethnic group. Could someone chime in please? Or modify the definition of the lede to specify what is not considered an ethnic group? kwami (talk) 20:25, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Finno-Ugric peoples, like Slavic or Germanic peoples, are a meta-ethnicity or an ethno-linguistic group. Note that Finno-Ugric peoples are genetically similar due to shared patrilineal heritage (haplogroup N), even if some are generally visually closer to Caucasoids (Finns, Estonians), while others to Mongoloids (Nenets). -- (talk) 10:21, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Race & Ethnicity footnote

Is that content a huge quote by Wolf? And is it supposed to be all in one giant footnote? That seems like very strange style to me, and an incredibly long direct quote to include, even in a footnote. - TheMightyQuill (talk) 02:23, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Seems to be a cut and paste of pgs 380-381 (Don't have it to hand so can't say for sure). The reference alone seems sufficient to me. RashersTierney (talk) 12:25, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I would like to see the entire quote in the article, but right now to do so would be disproportionate. I'd like to leave it as a footnote as a way of "banking" it - if the article grows - it ought to, as there is still a lot of research not represented, and other views - I have hopes this quote would later have a place in the article. Slrubenstein | Talk 12:38, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
    • ^ Abizadeh 2001