I was immediately drawn to ways in which people identify themselves and among their nation. Identification can inform comparativists of many qualities about ethnicity, nations, and citizenship/patriotism. I assume that I am highly interested in identification because I myself am pretty diversified in my beliefs, where I come from (China) and where I live now. Identity is important to me and I find it fascinating how all different people can be part of their own ethnicity.
Before I learned what the term ethnicity meant to comparativists, I thought that ethnicity and race were used interchangeably. However, I was wrong and a person’s ethnicity make up who they are. It is isn’t just based off of physical appearance, it is their religion, language, customs, and culture. In the United States there are probably thousands of different ethnicities and people don’t belong in only one. Ethnicities are mixed not only in the United States, but many countries all around the world. While some countries, (i.e. the United States) might not be accepting of some ethnic identities at the moment, ethnic identities are a large of our world and people and other countries cannot block out those identities no matter how much they want to. Additionally, the sharing of ethnicities creates more acceptance and more cultural diversity among people living in the same areas or regions.
I discovered that ethnic attributes are institutionalized, and while ethnicity is mainly cultural, it can have a political attribute as well. I also learned of the term ascription, which in literal terms means the “assigning of a particular quality at birth.” In more basic terms it means the ethnicities get passed done from generation to generation and a person’s ethnicity is what defines them.
Unlike ethnic identity, national identity is more affiliated with politics. National identity is an institution that keeps citizens and people together through similar political agendas and ideas. National identity involves more freedom, which is interesting because in some ways ethnic identity should have more freedom since it is made up of a set of institutions. Because of the way ethnic identity is defined, greater groups of that “national identity” may stir up hate or more of a divide because those groups of ethnic identities are more individualized and grouped. They are separate from the “whole” which is the national identity.
Identity is fascinating to learn about and as I am taking this comparative class, I look at identity in different ways. I think as a comparativist, there are many ways to relate national to ethnic identity. Does ethnic identity harm national identity or vice-versa? What are ways in which ethnic identity is more favorable than national? Is having more division with ethnic identity “bad” for a society?