Census and Identity: The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and by David I. Kertzer, Dominique Arel

By David I. Kertzer, Dominique Arel

This examine examines the ways in which states have tried to pigeon-hole the folks inside of their obstacles into racial, ethnic, and language different types. those makes an attempt, even if via American efforts to divide the U.S. inhabitants into at the same time unique racial different types, or throughout the Soviet method of inscribing nationality different types on inner passports, have vital implications not just for people's personal identities and lifestyles percentages, yet for nationwide political and social tactics besides. The ebook studies the historical past of those categorizing efforts by way of the country, deals a theoretical context for interpreting them, and illustrates the case with reviews from more than a few nations.

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Extra resources for Census and Identity: The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Language in National Censuses

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Unaffected by the evolving international discourse sympathetic to minority rights, France continues to cling to a vision of the nation which, by its very essence, leaves no legal space for the existence of a “minority,” and therefore of ethnically defined groups. A 1991 ruling by the French Constitutional Council that the legal term “Corsican people” (peuple corse) is unconstitutional (Rouland, Pierr´e-Caps and Poumar`ede 1996: 241), strongly suggests that the French conception is still deeply engrained.

In considering whether or not to categorize identities, census-makers thus face a dilemma: on the one hand, categorizing can have beneficial effects on the excluded; on the other hand, the very possibility of linking group identities to political benefits can provide incentive for “groups” to mobilize and demand recognition. Far from merely reflecting what is “out there,” the census can be transformed into a mechanism of identity formation. Counting fluid identities: the language conundrum A key argument that has been used to counter the revisionist position in the contemporary French debate is that reducing ethnicity to a single census criterion, such as origin or language, greatly distorts the complex and changing identities of immigrants and their children.

When Moscow established Soviet republics on the basis of nationality, some newly self-defined Uzbeks ended up on the wrong side of the border. Hirsch (2000: 216) tells the story of Uzbek-identified border villages, assigned to neighboring Kirgizia, whose inhabitants petitioned Moscow to be included in Uzbekistan. She is struck by how adept the petitioners were at using the rhetoric of nationality, which until a few years before had been foreign to the region: Did the petitioners really believe that they were members of a discrete Uzbek nationality?

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