Reframing Ethnicity: Academic Tropes, Recognition beyond Politics, and Ritualized Action between Nepal and India: New Article in American Anthropologist by Professor Sara Shneiderman

May 31, 2014

Sara Shneiderman has recently published an article in the journal American Anthropologist.  The abstract and link are below.  Shneiderman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology.


Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork across the Himalayan borders of Nepal and India, I revisit disciplinary debates about ethnicity. I focus on the expressive production of ethnic consciousness among members of the Thangmi (Thami) community in a context of high cross-border mobility. I argue that ethnicity is the result not only of the prerogatives of state control or market forces but also of a ritual process through which identity itself is produced as a sacred object that binds together diverse members of the collectivity. Thangmi participation in a range of ritualized actions demonstrates how mobility across national borders yields a high level of self-consciousness about the efficacy of each form of action as well as of the frames within which action unfolds. Ethnicity may be understood simultaneously as a historically contingent process and a wellspring of affectively real cultural content, enabling us to make better sense—in both scholarly and political terms—of emergent ethnic claims in South Asia and beyond.