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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1999, Vol. 2 No. 1 .


Ethnicity
Edited by John Hutchinson & Anthony D. Smith

(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)
448pp. Index. Bibl. Pb.: 10.99; ISBN 0-19-289274-6.



Type in the word ethnicity in any search-engine or library-search and you will be overrun by the amount of titles and links. This reader is perhaps a solution and also a guide in what is now a large field of study. As a reference and incentive for further reading, it is almost unbeatable. It manages rather well to accommodate the main issues in the area of ethnic studies and as such it finds its place extremely well on any reading list or any shelf.

The book is divided in seven parts, ranging from 'concepts of ethnicity', 'theories of ethnicity', 'ethnicity in history', 'ethnicity in the modern world', 'ethnicity, religion and language', 'race and ethnicity', ethnic conflict and nationalism and finally, 'transcending ethnicity'. One also has to mention the general introduction which in itself is rather enlightening. Just as in the predecessor on nationalism, each chapter has a short introduction followed by short extracts from longer published works.

There are of course questions to be asked. One question could of course focus on the selection of texts. Is it possible to be 'objective'? Of course, in an area like ethnicity, there is bound to be controversy regarding representation. By looking on the chapters described above, the two editors have obviously tried to satisfy most camps and have managed quite well. Still one can question the lack of contributions in the are of gender and ethnicity (one contribution, Deniz Kandyoti) and also to a certain extent examples and contributors from the Third World and Eastern Europe. One or two contributions discussing the developments in the aftermath of the downfall of the USSR would have been welcomed. This as many 'discovered' the word 'ethnicity' during these turbulent years. Still, leaving this behind, the reader manages to accommodate most of the areas discussed in the discipline today and also show on the problems with definitions and concepts. This should perhaps not only be a book for researchers and students, but for anyone with an interest in these issues.


Ulf Hansson, University of Ulster



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