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By Jan Hoffman French

Anthropologists extensively agree that identities--even ethnic and racial ones--are socially built. much less understood are the techniques through which social identities are conceived and built. Legalizing Identities exhibits how legislation can effectively function the impetus for the transformation of cultural practices and collective identification. via ethnographic, ancient, and felony research of profitable claims to land by way of neighboring black groups within the backlands of northeastern Brazil, Jan Hoffman French demonstrates how those groups have come to differentiate themselves from one another whereas revising and retelling their histories and present-day tales.

French argues that the invocation of legislation through those comparable groups resulted in the emergence of 2 assorted identities: one indigenous (Xoco Indian) and the opposite quilombo (descendants of a fugitive African slave community). With the aid of the Catholic Church, govt officers, legal professionals, anthropologists, and activists, each one group gained executive reputation and land rights, and displaced elite landowners. This used to be comprehensive even supposing anthropologists referred to as upon to evaluate the validity in their claims famous that their identities have been "constructed." The confident consequence in their claims demonstrates that authenticity isn't a prerequisite for identification. French attracts from this perception a extra sweeping end that, faraway from being facts of inauthenticity, procedures of building shape the root of all identities and should have very important outcomes for social justice.

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