Ethnicity, Inc. by John L. Comaroff & Jean Comaroff
University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 31 July 2009
Soft cover, 256 pages
In Ethnicity, Inc., John L. and Jean Comaroff explore a range of intriguing, disturbing, even absurd phenomena to analyse a new moment in the history of human identity: its rampant commodification. Ethno-theme parks; Native American casinos; Scotland the brand; a world religion declared to be intellectual property; San 'Bushmen' with patent rights potentially worth millions of dollars; nations acting as commercial enterprises; and the growth of marketing firms that target specific ethnic populations are just some of the diverse examples that fall under the Comaroffs' incisive scrutiny. Through these examples they trace the contradictory effects of neoliberalism as it transforms identities and social being across the globe. Intellectually rigorous, but leavened with wit, Ethnicity, Inc. is a powerful, highly original portrayal of a new world being born in a tectonic collision of culture, capitalism and identity.