Race and ethnicity
RACEANDETHNICITY is a significant sub-element within BIOGRAPHY > CULTURALFORMATION. It encloses the structural elements containing the discussion of a person's racial and ethnic subject position, capturing information and discussion in light of the unstable, historically constituted categories of race and ethnicity. It works in conjunction with four content, subject-specific sub-elements: RACECOLOUR, NATIONALHERITAGE, GEOGHERITAGE, ETHNICITY (each of which can be used without RACEANDETHNICITY).
The following applies to both the general discursive discussion of RACEANDETHNICITY and to the specific sub-element categories.
Despite anxiety over the ways in which categories of race or ethnicity circulate and serve various kinds of undesirable interests, to ignore the question or choose a totally free-text route is not a responsible solution for this project, though it would certainly be easier and simpler. The aim here is to make the complexities of the question of race and ethnicity emerge, and to make it clear that these are shifting, historically constituted, and interestedly deployed categories whose use must be understood contextually. The discursiveness with which we present these categories should, hopefully, help to do this and also allay the anxiety we feel about labelling in a vacuum. In other words, the project has no notion that we could or should come up with what is in any way an exact, fully defined, or mutually exclusive set of categories: the point is the overlap within them. Within this system, counting per se becomes highly problematic; the user has to do some work (and some thinking/active defining) before arriving at any kind of list or count, and will hopefully arrive at it with a sense of how problematic such an activity is. We want, as we go, carefully to build sets of associations around terms that are controversial or hard to interpret.
Parallel to the issue tags, this element is important because this is such a charged issue, and has remained so through seismic shifts in scientific and other concepts of race. This tag can be used to chart developments in self-awareness as well as in social placing.