Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I have come to the conclusion that most people have fundamental disagreements with me over basic definitions. So here is what I mean when I use these words. I don't expect anybody to ever agree with me. But, at least people should know what I mean.

1. Citizenship: A legal category granted by the state providing a person defined as a citizen with certain rights and documentation of their status, most notably in the form of a passport.

2. Nationality: A political category representing a group of people with certain commonalities who aspire to obtain self determination. Usually nationalities are ethnic groups that have become politicized and desire some form of at least symbolic control over their ancestral territory.

3. Ethnicity: A cultural category representing people who believe they have a common heritage and certain shared signifiers such as language, religion, and way of life.

4. Race: Any immutable category based upon ancestry and inherited at birth. Generally racial categories are imposed upon populations by the state. In contrast ethnic categories are more fluid, have elements of voluntary association, and are formed by elements of society on the basis of cultural commonalities independent of the state. However, it is very easy to racialize national and ethnic categories.

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