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Old 12-31-2011, 07:49 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Default What makes an ethnic group?

A couple of comparisons got me thinking. About the concept of 'ethnic group' and the difference between it and a 'nationality.' In many parts of the world the two are basically synonymous in name: in Japan, even if you have lived there for generations you will never be a Japanese person. Many Japanese consider Japanese Americans, even if they've been in the US for generations, as basically Japanese. I think the Chinese too often hold on to their identity after a long time. I was reading about the Chinese Thai community and how assimilated they are. Since many have been in Thailand for centuries, have totally assimilated into Thai culture (their names, religion, society, culture.etc) and consider themselves Thai, are they still of the Chinese ethnic group? I mean the Tai came from China, and while genetically slightly different from where the later Chinese came from, still have their roots in China. It's estimated that 30-40% of Thais are of partial Chinese ancestry (I guess technically most originally came from China anyway) including many prominent politicians, businesspeople, and the royal family, which is why I guess many look East Asian to varying degrees.

How does this work in Europe? I mean some national entities in Europe are relatively young, like Germany or Italy. Would people of mainly German ancestry who have lived in France for 500 years now be considered ethnic French? Would anyone consider any of the non-Native Americans a separate ethnic group, like the Pilgrims, Appalachians or Cajuns? What about African Americans?

Why do some groups, like the Jews or Chinese, seem to cling on/be singled out moreso than other nationalities? Ultimately, aren't ethnic groups mostly about self-identification? Most nationalities/ethnic groups aren't genetically that homogenous: take Britain, for instance, a 'mongrel race.' Isn't language/national identity the main thing that should define a person, rather than the relative concept of 'ancestry'?
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Old 12-31-2011, 08:05 AM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
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I usually consider Whites (such as UK, US, France, Spain) to be a single ethnicity, Asians (Koreans, Japs, Chinese) to be a single ethnicty, and the Indians, Pakistanis and Afghanistans to be one.. just my opinion though
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Old 12-31-2011, 04:52 PM
 
Location: Albuquerque
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I completely disagree with the above.

Ethnicity is about culture, not skin color or geography.
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:18 PM
 
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A nationality is a legal matter, a question of having the rights, privileges and responsibilities of citizenship.

Ethnicity is a matter of heritage, where your parents and grandparents and so forth came from. In the United States, most people are US citizens but claim one or more other ethnic identities.

The Pilgrims were a religious group. I don't see them as an ethnic group any more than I would see the descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence or Lutherans a single ethnic group.

I would consider Cajuns an ethnic group because they are the descendants of Acadian exiles, French speakers from Acadia in what are now the Maritime Provinces of Canada. Or so says Wikipedia. It's a matter of heritage and culture.

Appalachian-Americans tend to be Scottish-Irish...but not always. Wikipedia mentions a few other groups in Appalachia such as the Cherokee (I see them as an ethnic group) and the Melungeons, a group of mixed ancestry.

At least in my mind, ethnic group = ancestry and nationality = passport.
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:37 PM
 
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I would consider an ethinc group to be a culture and a heratige, I don't believe in race so I that does not have anything to do with it. Take Hispanics for example they come from many different "races" but they all have a similar culture.
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:57 PM
 
Location: The better side of the Mason-Dixon Line
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I think an ethnicity is a subset of a race. For example the white race includes ethnicities like English, Irish, German, Italian, Swedish, etc and the Asian race includes ethnicities like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

I'm actually curious the difference between an ethnic group and a tribe. I mean the Cherokees, Apaches, Navajo, and Chippewa are all considered tribes even though they have different languages and cultures that probably differed as much as between the Germans and French for example yet they are all part of the Native American race which I honestly think is artificially constructed since the Navajos and Cherokee probably didn't even know each other until they both ended up in the USA.
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Old 12-31-2011, 07:12 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Lennox 70 View Post
I think an ethnicity is a subset of a race. For example the white race includes ethnicities like English, Irish, German, Italian, Swedish, etc and the Asian race includes ethnicities like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

I'm actually curious the difference between an ethnic group and a tribe. I mean the Cherokees, Apaches, Navajo, and Chippewa are all considered tribes even though they have different languages and cultures that probably differed as much as between the Germans and French for example yet they are all part of the Native American race which I honestly think is artificially constructed since the Navajos and Cherokee probably didn't even know each other until they both ended up in the USA.
There are some ethnicities in Central Asia which have members which look both 'European' and 'Asian' (individually and as a group). If you look at most Kazakhs they will look like some mixture of Europeans and East Asians. There are people in Africa who fall in the grey area between Middle Eastern/Caucasoid and 'Black.'

Yeah I think it's just terminology. The Australian Aborigines too had hundreds of languages, most of which weren't even mutually intelligible, so how many ethnic groups were in Australia? In many countries whether a people are even considered an ethnic group, instead of being jumped with the majority ethnicity, seems to be a matter for the government to decide.
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Old 12-31-2011, 07:27 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
I completely disagree with the above.

Ethnicity is about culture, not skin color or geography.
An individual can change one, but not the other. In fact, it is a combination of both, and the weight of that composition is fluid. In most cases, it is a majority group that defines the minority ethnicity, but in some cases (such as Jews and Japanese), they define themselves for their own purposes.

For example, a person from Algeria. He is exactly the same person, wherever he goes, with the same willingness to assimilate into the culture. But his "ethnicity" is seen with a very different level of intensity and bias, depending on whether he is in France, Argentina, Singapore or Canada. Because it is his new country that defines his ethnicity.
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Old 12-31-2011, 07:47 PM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
I completely disagree with the above.

Ethnicity is about culture, not skin color or geography.
What exactly makes the Scots a different ethnicity from the English or French? Or the Indians from the Pakistanis? Or the Saudis from the Kuwaitis? Or the Americans from the Canadians?

Not disagreeing with you, I'm open to all ideas, but I'm just curious, obviously language is important..
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Old 12-31-2011, 07:51 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dunno what to put here View Post
Ethnicity is not about culture at all.
What exactly makes the Scots a different ethnicity from the English or French? A different language?
I think that's why the term 'ethnicity' confuses people, it's often not applied correctly. Ethnicity is indeed mostly about culture: language, customs, a shared history/mythology, food. There are many differences between the English and the French, the French enjoy escargo, the English eat blood pudding, cuisines are a part of ethnic identity.
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