Ethnic Identity from the Margins:
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In most people’s minds “ethnic” or “ethnicity” are terms associated with conflict, cleansing, or even genocide. This book explores—from three perspectives—the significance of ethnic communities beyond these popular conceptions. The first perspective is the reality of the author’s own experience as a member of the Welsh ethnic identity. The Welsh are a small people whose whole existence has been overshadowed by the more powerful English. This is the “margin” from which the author speaks. The second perspective is the Bible and evangelical mission and the third is the unprecedented movement and mixing of ethnic identities in our globalizing world. The book ends with the section on ethnicity in the Lausanne Commitment that, hopefully, marks the beginning of serious consideration by the evangelical missions community of this issue that deeply impacts the lives of many millions.



Publié par
Date de parution 27 juin 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781645080367
Langue English

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Ethnic Identity from the Margins: A Christian Perspective Copyright © 2012 Dewi Hughes
All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording—without prior written permission of the publisher. The publisher does not maintain, update, or moderate links and/or content provided by third-party websites mentioned in the book.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica. Use of either trademark requires the permission of Biblica.
Published by William Carey Library 1605 East Elizabeth Street Pasadena, CA 91104 |
Kelley K. Wolfe, editor Brad Koenig, copyeditor Alyssa E. Force, cover and interior design Rose Lee-Norman, indexer
William Carey Library is a ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission Pasadena, CA |
Digital eBook Release Primalogue 2015 ISBN 978-0-87808-899-7
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hughes, Dewi Arwel. Ethnic identity from the margins : a Christian perspective / Dewi Hughes. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. ). ISBN 978-0-87808-459-3 1. Christianity and culture. 2. Ethnicity--Religious aspects--Christianity. 3. Church and minorities. I. Title. BR115.C8H84 2011 270.089--dc23 2011026936

I’r teulu

1 Context and Definitions
2 The Modern Understanding of Ethnic Identity from an Autobiographical Perspective
3 A Church, the Bible, and the Complexities of Ethnic Identity
4 The Bible, Christianity, Ethnic Identity, and Nationhood
5 Ethnic Identity and Human Right
6 The Ethnic Cauldron of the Contemporary World
7 Not Just a Minority: The Case of Indigenous Peoples
8 Beyond Ethnic Conflict
Appendix: UN Documents
Scripture Index
End Notes

THE title given to this book when it was first published was Castrating Culture . I pondered long and hard before deciding to go ahead with the title, and I’m now happy to admit that I took the wrong decision! But having confessed my mistake, I’m also happy to confess that the idea was not original to me. I took it from a statement by a Peruvian Quechua Indian, Artidoro Tuanama, that I found in a report he had written for Tearfund—an evangelical relief and development agency in the UK for whom I worked as theological advisor. Artidoro’s statement takes us to the heart of the concern of this whole book:
We simply want to take our place as indigenous and native Quechua people, understanding and living out the gospel. We assume our identity without shame, retaliation or indignation against those who have caused harm to our past and castrated our culture. 1
Artidoro is a pastor and in 1996 was director of the Association of Quechua Evangelical Churches of the Jungle of North East Peru. His people continue to live most of their lives outside the boundaries of industrialism and globalisation. They are not numerous. In global terms and relative to the numerous and powerful nations of the earth, they count for nothing. In light of the majesty of God, a very sophisticated electronic scale would be required to even register their existence because all the nations of the earth with their splendour, glory, and power are but dust on his scales (Isa 40:15–17).
This may be so, but Artidoro has also understood something of the genius of the gospel with its revelation of a God who “has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble,…has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:52,53). He has understood that, having welcomed the gospel, his little people by the world’s standards have a responsibility to live out the gospel in the context of their history and culture. Sadly that history and culture has been harmed and castrated.
From the perspective of this book, which is Artidoro’s perspective, history is the story of the terrible harm and violence that has been done to less powerful ethnic identities by the more powerful ones. I hesitated for a long time before deciding to use “castrating” in the original title because it is certainly not a nice word and I was afraid of offending Christian sensibilities—and as it transpired my worst fears were realised. However, it expresses so well the sort of violence that has been done to less powerful ethnic identities. Added to this I also feel strongly that if Artidoro, who has suffered much and has witnessed the suffering of his people, could use the term to express what has been done to his people, then who am I to question his wisdom?
It is impossible for a castrated creature to be fruitful and multiply and pass on its genes or genius to another generation. This is precisely what powerful ethnic identities do to less powerful ones. It is not surprising that many ethnic identities that have suffered such humiliation have answered violence with violence.
Not so Artidoro. He does not deny the harm and violence that has been done to his people and their identity. He is even able to identify those that have been guilty of the violence. He also accepts that what has been done has disabled his people from producing fruit for God’s glory. One of the most devastating effects of ethnic oppression is to make people ashamed of who they are to the point that they try not to be who they are and adopt the identity of their oppressors. Artidoro believes that the gospel, as a glorious manifestation of God’s love to him and his people, frees them inwardly from oppression. Any object of God’s costly love cannot be worthless. Therefore, they can be who they are without shame and, in Christ’s strength, they can do so without being angry, or wanting to hit back, at their oppressors.
My hope and prayer is that this book will help Christians understand Artidoro’s concept of ethnic identity so that more of us will not only be concerned that individuals enter God’s eternal kingdom, but that “the glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it” (Rev 21:26).
As I wrote this introduction almost ten years ago, “ethnic” Albanians, as the media described them, were creating mayhem in Macedonia and confirming the conviction that anything to do with ethnicity is bad news. Since then much blood has been spilt in ethnic conflict. Today—June 20, 2010—marks the first anniversary of the end of the long and very bloody ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, but real peace between Sinhalese and Tamils remains as elusive as ever.
“Ethnic” and “conflict” have become closely linked in the minds of most people as a result of what happened in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. If one did a word association exercise with the word “ethnic,” one would inevitably get a list including “cleansing,” “genocide,” “hatred,” “cruelty,” “rape,” and so on. The common conviction is that it is an unmitigated evil. This book disputes this common conviction. It argues that the tree of ethnic identity is not essentially bad and that it can bear good fruit.
It seems to me that most of what I have read about ethnic identity, nationhood, and nationalism has been written by those who belong to the numerous and powerful nations of the world or who have been so thoroughly assimilated into their culture that they no longer have a minority perspective. In this work I consciously set out to write about the topic from the perspective of the minority. This is an attempt at a view from underneath. I believe strongly that those who belong to large and powerful ethnic identities, especially Christians, need to appreciate what it means to live at the ethnic margins.
I am a citizen of the United Kingdom who carries a British passport, but ethnically I am a Welsh person who had the privilege of growing up in an area where the Welsh language was still dominant. The whole of my sixty-five years has been lived in Wales, but for most of that time the powerful shadow of England and English has been a daily reality threatening my Welsh identity with extinction. As Jack Straw, a former home secretary of the British government said, the English have historically had a propensity for violence towards the less powerful nations of the British Isles—the Scots, Irish, and Welsh. To a Welsh person, this was such an encouraging statement. One often feels the reality of this “violence” when travelling outside Britain. A question I have been asked more than once when being introduced is, “Which part of England is Wales?” The question may just be the result of ignorance, but a Welsh person finds it difficult to avoid the conclusion that it is the result of an English campaign to deny our existence. After all, it is a historical fact that from the sixteenth to the late twentieth century there was a deliberate attempt on the part of the English state to assimilate Wales into England. This is epitomised by the following entry in an early edition of The Encyclopaedia Britannica: “Wales [see England].”
I suspect that what has been said above will sound to some readers like the beginning of a tract on Welsh nationalism. That is understandable, but what follows tries to dissociate the experience of belonging to a minority ethnic identity from the political ideology of nationalism. I attempt to do this by weaving together my own experience of growing up Welsh and a more objective examination of contemporary theories of ethnic identity, nationhood, and nationalism. The main purpose is to see what contemporary theory looks like for a Christian committed to the authority of the Bible who is looking on from the perspective of the margins. There are a great many people who, like myself, have access to English but who belong to national minorities and

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