By John L. Comaroff, Jean Comaroff

In "Ethnicity, Inc." anthropologists John L. and Jean Comaroff research a brand new second within the background of human identification: its rampant commodification. via a wide-ranging exploration of the altering courting among tradition and the industry, they tackle a urgent query: in which lies the way forward for ethnicity? Their account starts in South Africa, with the incorporation of an ethno-business in enterprise capital through a gaggle of conventional African chiefs. yet their horizons are international: local American casinos; Scotland’s efforts to model itself; a Zulu ethno-theme park named Shakaland; a global faith declared to be highbrow estate; a chiefdom made right into a international company through its platinum holdings; San “Bushmen” with patent rights in all probability worthy thousands of greenbacks; countries performing as advertisement corporations; and the speedy progress of promoting organisations that concentrate on particular ethnic populations are only a few of the diversified examples that fall lower than the Comaroffs’ incisive scrutiny. those phenomena variety from the traumatic throughout the fascinating to the absurd. via them, the Comaroffs hint the contradictory results of neoliberalism because it transforms identities and social being around the globe. "Ethnicity, Inc." is a penetrating account of the ways that ethnic populations are remaking themselves within the photo of the corporation—while firms coopt ethnic practices to open up new markets and regimes of intake. Intellectually rigorous yet leavened with wit, it is a robust, hugely unique portrayal of a brand new international being born in a tectonic collision of tradition, capitalism, and identification.

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4 Or worse. To return once more to Benjamin (1968:216): the aura of historical objects, he argued, may be compared to that of “natural” ones, to a mountain range on the horizon or a branch and its shadow. ” This is the distance of elusiveness, in time as well as space. It is shattered by the modern impulse to render all qualities equivalent, to “bring things closer,” to get hold of them by consuming their likeness in mechanically reproduced forms. These forms offer accessibility at the cost of authentic presence.

And contested (cf. Brown 1998:194). One of the corollaries of that shift, for example, is the queering of Bourdieu’s (1977) classic distinction between cultural and economic capital. Being founded from the first on a misleading antinomy between the symbolic and the substantive, the immaterial and the material, it can no longer be sustained when the two species of capital merge so overtly: when culture is objectified by those who inhabit it, thence to be deployed as a brute economic asset, a commodity with the intrinsic capacity to compound wealth of its own accord.

Culture-as-Property: The Geist of Culture Past, Present, Future “Throughout history,” Phillips and Steiner (1999:3) point out, “the physical presence of the object has been central to the telling of cross-cultural encounters with distant worlds . ” Nor only the telling. Modern colonial missions almost everywhere sought to make diverse others into ethnic subjects through objects (Comaroff and Comaroff 1991). With the turn of the twenty-first century, however, we seem to have entered a phase in which otherness is not transacted only as trophy, talisman, souvenir, or subjection.

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