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Panethnicity: Wikis


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Panethnicity (from Ancient Greek, πᾶν pan "entire", and ἔθνος ethnos "nation") is the grouping together, and collective labeling, of various independently dinstinguishable, self-identified and self-sustained ethnicities into one all-encompassing group of people.

Often labels of panethnicity group together people of different nationalities and/or ethnicities that may in fact be very different from each other. The grouping is often done based on similar physical characteristics, sharing of a common language, or sharing of a common religion.[1]



Panethnic labels are often, though not always, created and employed by outsiders of the group that is being defined panethnically. Mainstream institutions and political policies often play a big role in the labeling of panethnic groups. They often enact policies that deal with specific groups of people, and panethnic groups are one way to group large numbers of people. Public policy might dole out resources or make deals with multiple groups, viewing them all as one large entity.[2]

Groups that have similarities in background, language, and other characteristics in turn might form groups that come to be panethnic as a way to form group solidarity. Likewise, some groups choose to embrace the panethnic labels that have already been given to them by outsiders.

When racial or ethnic discrimination occurs, if outsiders have already panethnically labeled peoples as one group who will all be discriminated against, then in turn, the group often will accept the label of panethnicity as a way to unite and fight the discrimination and stereotyping.[1]

In the United States, with the Civil Rights Movement, the increase in collective action based on identity contributed to the formation of many panethnic groups.

Panethnic usage


Unites States

In the United States, panethnicity is most often seen in the labeling of all Spanish-speakers from Latin America and Spain as Hispanics, or all Spanish-speakers and Portuguese-speakers from Latin America as Latinos.

In both the case of "Hispanics" and "Latinos", the categorization into a panethnicity is done irrespective of the country of origin (eg. Mexican, Peruvian, Argentinian, Dominican, Spaniard, etc) or the racial origins (white, mestizo, mulatto, black, Amerindian, etc) of those people grouped into the panethnicity.

Other U.S. examples include the labeling of all people from not only East Asia, but also South Asia, as Asian Americans, or all people with any degree of sub-Saharan African descent (even if predominantely of European or other ancestries) as African American, and all indigenous American tribes as a collective Native American "ethnicity" with the implication that they represent one people with a single shared identity.


Arab, in its common modern definition, is also a widely employed example of panethnicity. Arabs themselves are a grouping of peoples of various ancestral origins, religious backgrounds and historic identities, whose members identify as such on one or more of the grounds of language, culture, or genealogy.[3]

Those self-identifing as Arab, however, rarely do so on its own. Most hold multiple identities, with a more localized prioritized ethnic identity — such as Egyptian, Lebanese, or Palestinian — in addition to further tribal, village and clan identities.

Some Arabic-speakers, who would otherwise be labelled Arabs, reject the label as a self-designation or as an imposed one, whether it be imposed by outsiders or by other self-identified Arabs who would include them as fellow Arabs. Such is the case with many Egyptians, and some Lebanese, who instead identify solely as Egyptian with other Egyptians and solely as Lebanese with other Lebanese, with no additional identification of Egyptians and Lebanese with each other, nor with Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Morrocans, etc, as Arabs.


As a unified group, many panethnic organizations have developed such as La Raza and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. Panethnic organizations can serve to help groups achieve goals based on common interests and also to pool their resources together.

Panethnicity has allowed for Asian Americans to unite based on similar historical relations with the U.S., such as U.S. military presence in their native country. The Asian American panethnic identity has evolved to become a means for immigrant groups such as Asian Americans to unite in order to gain political strength in numbers.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Do Hispanic and Asian Adolescents Practice Panethnicity in Friendship Choices?", Grace Kao and Kara Joyner
  2. ^ "Institutional Panethnicity: Boundary Formation in Asian-American Organizing", Dina G. Okamoto
  3. ^ Deng, 1995, p. 405.


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