Ethnic categorisations and mobilisations

Our research in this area explores the ways in which categories of ethnicity have been constructed and contested over time.

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It examines how certain categories come to have salience while others do not, how this varies across particular contexts, the dynamics of debates around categories, and how categories have evolved.

It explores how these processes are reflected in the range of ways in which ethnic and religious categories have been operationalised in empirical studies and commercial databases; how different approaches and measures impact on the construction and interpretation of data.

Central to this work examines the ways in which individuals and groups come to identify with or resist, ethnic and religious categorisation, including the strategic uses of ethnic categories for particular purposes (bottom-up adoption, adaptation and mobilisation), and the role of agencies (the state) in the promotion of (top-down) classification schemes.

We are exploring the investments in and imaginations of ethnic/religious groups, the processes by which religious identities (for example, being a Muslim) have taken precedence over ethnic identities, and national belonging and ties to local areas.