Ethnicity in Space and Everyday Practice: an Outline of a General Framework with Examples from New Mexico

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Studies of ethnicity have emphasized ethnicity’s social, processual and event-like character. While they have been very successful in explaining change, they have failed to account for the durability and renewed importance of many group identities. We argue that taking into account spatial and embodied dimensions of ethnicity, we can explain continuity without falling back to primordialism and essentialism. The most important spatial factors in explaining the strength of ethnic identities include spatial separation, the built environment, generative processes associated with the built environment, performances and embodied practices, and the linguistic landscape. The article provides an outline for a general framework for the analysis of ethnicity, using examples from New Mexico as illustrations of individual arguments.

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