Of Totemism and Ethnicity:

Consciousness, Practice and the Signs of Inequality

Publication Date: 21/02/2022

Journal: Ethnos

Reissue Date:

Page start: 301

Page End: 323

Volume: 3/4

Edition: 52

Is Ethnicity an object of analysis, something to be explained? Or is it an explanatory principle capable of accounting for significant aspects of human existence? Because it has been treated in both ways, sometimes simultaneously, there is disagreement over even the most fundamental issues: What is ethnicity, one thing or many? Does it have the capacity to determine social and material life? Or is it determined by other historical forces and structures? And how does it relate to race, class, and nationality? Drawing examples primarily from Africa, and drawing a theoretical distinction between it and totemism, this essay posits five propositions about the nature of ethnicity in an effort to illuminate its historical character and its diverse experiential forms.

Other Essays