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Edited by Russell W. Belk
Chapter 41: Research Ethnicity and Consumption
41 Researching ethnicity and consumption Lisa Peñaloza Introduction To analyze how white Americans thought about the west, it helps to think anthropologically. One lesson of anthropology is cultural persistence . . . beliefs and values will persist even when the supporting economic and political structures have vanished . . . Among those persistent values, few have more power than the idea of innocence. The dominant motive for moving west was improvement and opportunity, not injury to others. Few white Americans went west intending to ruin the natives and despoil the continent. Even when they were trespassers, westering Americans were hardly, in their own eyes, criminals; rather they were pioneers. The ends abundantly justiﬁed the means; personal interest in the acquisition of property coincided with national interest in the acquisition of territory, and those interests overlapped in turn with the mission to extend the domain of Christian civilization. Innocence of intention placed the course of events in a bright and positive light; only over time would the shadows compete for our attention. (Patty Limerick, Legacy of Conquest) Ethnicity is a pressing topic in the world today, as most nations grapple with issues related to ethnic diﬀerence in increasingly multicultural societies. Many of these issues have a long history stemming from patterns of settlement, competing territorial claims, wars, colonization and slavery among diﬀerent ethnic, racial and/or religious groups within national borders, e.g., Arabs and Jews in Israel; or Latinos/as, Blacks and Whites in the US. Other issues relate to immigration, legal and illegal, and...
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