Ethnicity is one of the most compelling and modern ways in which people – in the midst of considerable global and local uncertainty – imagine and narrate themselves. This workshop will take an anthropological look at both the modernity and the compulsions of ethnic allegiance, and ask why struggles over ethnic identity so frequently are violent. Our questions will be both historical – how, why, and when did people come to think of themselves as possessing different ethnic identities – and contemporary – how are these identities lived, understood, narrated, and transformed, and what is the consequence of such ethnicization?
We will discuss anthropological perspectives which ask how people themselves locally narrate and act upon their experiences and histories. Through this we will approach some of the much broader and yet everyday questions that many of us around the world face: how do we relate to ourselves and to those we define as others; and how do we live through and after profound violence?