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7 - Ethnicities and Political Identities

from Part III - Democracy and Governance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 June 2021

Toyin Falola
Affiliation:
University of Texas, Austin
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Summary

“Ethnicity and Political Identities” investigates the overlapping connection and interference of ethnicity with political ideologies. In many political environments, kinship bonds are often wielded as tools of sociopolitical negotiation alongside ties anchored on spatial or non-physical notions of boundary and permissibility. The logic behind this kind of transference, carrying features of ethnic grouping from the cultural front to the political, is built on the notion that the characteristics of an ethnic unit should be used to define a political unit, its permissions, and the reach of its ideology. In Africa, Nigeria especially, the political structure is undergirded by ideas of sociocultural units. Ethnicity is founded on shared ideologies, defined binding ties, modes of rationality, systems of communication, and performative procedures. Shared ancestry, ideology, defined systems of executing tasks, and even language are some of the transferred features. These features define ethnic groups and political groups in varying degrees. In a country like Nigeria, the political parties that first sprang up in the wake of increased nationalism were ethnically oriented. However, an understanding of ethnic influences in relation to political identity requires an intersectional approach, which leads to a vibrant and dynamic political reality.

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Chapter
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Understanding Modern Nigeria
Ethnicity, Democracy, and Development
, pp. 167 - 199
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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