Ethnic Levels and Ethnonyms in Shifting Context: Ethnic Terminology in Hunza (Pakistan)
László Koppány Csáji
University of Pécs (Hungary), Department of Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology
This paper constitutes an attempt to unravel the complexity of ethnic levels and ethnonyms, and to outline the roles of “origin,” “language,” “locality,” and “social solidarity” in the ethnic identities of the Hunza, using the methods of anthropological studies on ethnicity, discourse analysis and cognitive semantics. The former kingdom of Hunza (now in the Pakistani controlled Kashmir). It is not obvious what one can call the ethnic level in Hunza. Ethnonyms do not have set definitions. There are overlapping categories of ethnic and quasi-ethnic perspectives. The notion that an ethnic group is based on a strict unit of origin, language, and territory seems to be false. Ethnic levels appear in constantly changing registers of personal knowledge, which only partially overlap. However, the discourse in which the inhabitants of Hunza express and experience their ethnic perceptions is an existing communicational frame, even if it contains relatively fluid and constantly changing elements of narratives, experiences, emotions, and values. The notion of Hunzakuts is seemingly a politonym, but it is also a local unit. The Burusho, Dom, Xik, Shina etc. are seemingly language based endonyms, but kinship, cultural relations, historical coexistence, administrative frames, language, and religiosity can all influence these ethnic perspectives. I delineated the essence of my explanation in a table, showing the complexity of ethnonyms used in social interactions. A native speaker has all these concepts in his or her mind, and in any particular situation, the relevant meanings are called forth. Ethnic identity is a set of different attachments, as frames of a person’s ethnic perceptions and behavior. Ethnicity is a kind of knowledge: participating in a discourse, sharing more or less common narratives, emotions, experiences, and values. Ethnicity is also a recognition: placing someone in the social environment, and it is also the foundation for meaningful and relevant relations. Finally, ethnicity is a practical tool of communication: ethnic perceptions and categories appear in conversation nearly always for a particular purpose.
Keywords: Hunza, Burushaski, Shina, Bericho, Wakhi, Pakistan, ethnicity, ethnonym, discourse analysis, cognitive semantics, nationalism