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In a similar way, Eriksen (1992) notes that ethnic identities are not made up of arbitrarily selected features that only meet the instrumental needs of a particular situation. Instead, they bear relevant meanings that in turn shape the course of interaction and limit the options available for the production of ethnic symbolism. Bentley’s (1987) “practice” approach employs what is ultimately a structuralist paradigm, applying Bourdieu’s (1977: 72–95) concept of the habitus in an attempt to reconcile the primordialist and instrumental approaches.

Because of this inconsistency in the correlation of material culture and ethnicity, Hines (1996) implies that ethnicity cannot even exist, let alone be reconstructed, without writing. Hines and others see the difficulty as not lying with the investigator’s conception of ethnicity, but rather with inadequacies in the level of archaeological visibility. Even when differences in material culture are established, it is difficult to determine which cultural features were used to establish ethnic identities.

Indeed, many argue that ethnicity cannot exist without contact with other groups (Díaz-Andreau 1996; Fitzpatrick 1996; Renfrew 1996). The contact itself produces a self-consciousness of difference that leads to the construction of ethnic identity (Comaroff and Comaroff 1992). Without this contrast, ethnicity does not exist. Ethnic identity is sharpened by conflict. Spicer (1971: 797–9) cited threat of conflict or incorporation as an essential factor in ethnic persistence. Royce (1982: 95) notes that, before unification, Italy remained politically fragmented even with a common culture, religion, and language.

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Anzer Modelling


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