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Ethnic identity is marked largely by concepts of unity and distinction. Shared languages, histories, beliefs, behaviors, and symbols bind members together while separating them from “others.” To examine the development of ethnicity among African Americans, it is important to explore the dynamics of ethnic identity in Africa as well as identities imposed and/or created in the Americas. Concepts of African heritage were altered and transformed by the North American enslavement system, yet scholars are increasingly realizing that the process of forging African identities was not merely a destructive result of European suppression, but also a product of African agency and strategy. African American ethnogenesis was at least partly informed by a deliberate effort by displaced Africans to transcend the ethnocultural distinctions previously opposing them ...

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