Constructing Collective Identity uses three richly detailed anthropological studies of ethnicity among New Zealand Jews, Maori, and urban Papua New Guineans to demonstrate that ethnicity is essentially a phenomenon of categorisation based on descent. The author maintains that the concept of ethnicity can be «reconstructed» (rescued from its current «deconstruction») by correcting the common tendency to confuse the rhetoric and elaborations of «identity politics» with ethnicity itself. The Maori case study in particular shows how ethnicity has become «culturalised» in New Zealand, and this provides a link, developed in the conclusion, between ethnicity and other forms of contested identity. The main theoretical contribution of the monograph is its development of the thesis that scholars need to integrate a cognitive perspective into the study of ethnicity in order to properly understand how ethnic categories develop and influence representations of identity, society and culture.
Frankfurt/M., Berlin, Bern, New York, Paris, Wien, 1997. 179 pp., 3 fig.
Contents: Three anthropological studies of ethnicity among New Zealand Jews, Maori, and Urban Papua New Guineans - Understanding
the nature of ethnicity - «Culturalised» ethnicity in New Zealand - Link between ethnicity and other forms of contested identity.