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By Alan F. Benjamin

Jews of the Dutch Caribbean addresses id and ethnicity, via a close examine of a little-known crew in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. It asks readers to take a extensive standpoint at the contexts that play a task in ethnicity together with, for instance, ecology, heritage, kinship, trade and language use in way of life and, crucially, rituals. It asks readers to take a vast standpoint at the contexts that play a task in ethnicity and attracts on ethnographic learn to investigate ethnic identities and think about the way it is formed and negotiated.

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Extra resources for Jews of the Dutch Caribbean: Exploring Ethnic Identity on Curacao (Routledge Harwood Anthropology)

Sample text

The concept of classifying practices that I present draws on a variety of intellectual threads. I suggest that classifying practices of ethnic identities are situated in specific historical–ecological social relations. They are shaped by culturally situated cognitive activity through which historically contingent knowledge about social collectivities is structured into – and structures – a system of understandings about relations between social collectivities and the representations of those relations.

My encounter with the Jewish communities of Curaçao was influenced profoundly by this contract and the negotiations over it during the first three months of my participant-observation, from September to December 1991 (Benjamin 1999). In negotiating our contract, we each brought understandings about how we expected the other to act relative to my research and writing and about what the contract would do to shape or to limit our own and the other’s actions. Not all of our understandings were accurate.

I may have sought approval unduly. As a result, I went through a process of developing a relationship with people with whom I had struggled. This may have helped me better to comprehend local concerns because conflict sometimes reveals more than civility. In the first years after fieldwork, the contract also has affected the representation and publication of my research. At times I have felt stymied when trying to write. I did not know how to join a vivid telling of cultural and social life with a need for discretion and anonymity.

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