Ethnic identity

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The concept of ethnic identity and its power to unite large groups of people in their quest for land and resources is central to the study of world politics and to global studies more generally. Certainly the world of the 21st century is still gripped by ethnic nationalism, ethnic tensions continue to simmer in many multi-ethnic societies, and ethnic identity is still at the heart of national identity throughout most of the world. Scholars of global studies, however, disagree about the nature of that identity--whether it is innate or malleable and whether ethnic divides can or should be overcome. The phenomenon of globalization has sharpened those debates. Globalization appears to be a double-edged sword. It weakens the boundaries between nation-states as it increases their interdependence and promises to weaken the power of ethnic identity to shape global politics. But it also creates close contact between some formerly separate ethnic groups, and it creates winners and losers along ethnic divides. Disappearing borders separating distinct ethnic groups can thus ignite ethnic conflict.

See also: Transnational Activism; Anti globalization Movements and Critics; Borders; Citizenship; Civil War; Cosmopolitan Identity; Culture, Notions of; Diasporas; Ethnocentrism; Genocides; Global Studies; Globalization; Heritage; Immigrants and their Homelands; Indigenous Peoples' Rights; Linguistic Identities; McDonaldization; MacWorld; Migration; Multi-racial Identities; National Identities; Nationalism; Nation-State; Otherness; Shrinking World Concepts; Xenophobia

--Beverly Crawford, University of California Berkeley

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