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Interdependencies of social categorisations 

2. International Symposium of the Research Network for Latin America from the 12th to the 14th of September 2011 at the University of Cologne


Goal of the Symposium

Belonging, Citizenship and the interdependencies of social categorisations (not only) in Latin America – past and present

Ethnicity is one of the categories by which belonging is organized (not only) in Latin America. However, this is not the only form that matters in everyday life and through which social inequalities and exclusions are scientifically describable. In addition to class positions distinctions based on gender, religion, age, regional origin (urban/rural), “race” in the strict sense of the term, and not at least legal exclusion by nationality can be mentioned among others. In the social reality, these categories are, however, not strictly separated. This can be easily illustrated by the example of ethnicity, because ethnicity is always thought of as an interdependent categorisation: the assignment of individuals to ethnic groups is influenced among other factors by the geographical or gendered localisation and can change in the course of their economic activities. Another example of interdependent categorisations is the gendering of the formal legal status: in many nation states women were excluded from the collective of citizens by marrying a foreigner, until the norm of the citizen changed from a male to a formally gender-neutral subject.

We refer to this complex interweaving of social categorisations as interdependency: on no account do we suppose a simple causal dependence of one category from any other. Rather these social categorizations are processes that mutually influence each other. The term "categorisation" we employ stresses its procedural character: it is neither about essentialistic descriptions nor of unalterable identities, but these markers of belonging and difference emerging in interactions, must be interpreted by the actors and are variable.

An anthology resulting from the conference has been released in 2013: Célleri, Daniela; Schwarz, Tobias; Wittger, Bea (Hg.) (2013) "Interdependencies of Social Categorisations", Frankfurt a.M. (Iberoamericana/Vervuert).