This paper offers a critical analysis of ‘groupism’ and suggests alternative ways of conceptualizing ethnicity without invoking the imagery of bounded groups. Alternative conceptual strategies focus on practical categories, cultural idioms, cognitive schemas, discursive frames, organizational routines, institutional forms, political projects, and contingent events. The conceptual critique has implications for the ways in which researchers, journalists, policymakers and NGOs address ‘ethnic conflict’ and ‘ethnic violence’. The paper concludes with an analysis of an empirical case from Eastern Europe.
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