Crashing into the Ethnic Pentagon: Reflections on Race and Culture in the New Ireland.
Saris, A. Jamie (2006) Crashing into the Ethnic Pentagon: Reflections on Race and Culture in the New Ireland. Irish Journal of Anthropology, 9 (3). pp. 18-26. ISSN 1393-8592
Like many crude, but compelling ideas, the term 'ethnic pentagon' has its genesis in America, not, as one might expect, as a marketing device by multinationals, but as an originally obscure directive from the Office of Management and Budget, prosaically entitled, 'Directive 15: Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting, May 1977.' For more than two decades this directive set the visible bureaucraticracial categories in the USA: 'White' and 'Black' (of course), Hispanic, Native American/Native Alaskan, and, my personal favourite, Asian/Pacific Islanders (a category that probably includes at least half of the world's population). Of course, various people complained about this categorization almost before the ink was dry on this document, and various learned bodies attacked it for its tendency to reify social categories as natural ones (the American Anthropological Association has a cogent, if intellectually unexciting, critique of it on its website), but as big funders fell into line, more and more scholarly projects reproduced this categorization, it became more and more difficult to do nearly anything in the absence of dealing with these divisions.
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