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Lecture+5-1 - Lecture 5 Ethnicity and Race Terms like race...

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Lecture 5: Ethnicity and Race Terms like race and ethnicity are hard for anthropologists to use analytically. When we try to define racial and ethnic groups, even anthropologists tend to confuse what Kottak calls emic and etic explanations of human similarity and difference. I want to argue that race and ethnicity are always social constructions . They are not a set of natural distinctions that appear to us out of the “real world,” they are things we create and impose on the “real world.” This does not mean that racial and ethnic groups are simply artificial, or inauthentic, or the product of flawed thinking. “If people define a thing to be real, it is real in its consequences.” Race and ethnicity are part of the “folk models” you and I carry around in our heads. They help us make sense of the diversity we see in this classroom. You probably can’t give a convincing argument for why we need two specific terms, race and ethnicity, to accomplish this task of differentiation, but you know intuitively that race and ethnicity are somehow different. (Or do you?) [Get the class to consider different terms for groups. White, Polish, Black, Dominican, Asian, Korean, and so on. Which terms are racial? Which are ethnic? What distinguishes the two categories?]
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