Ethnicity, Identity and Group Vitality: A Study of Burushos of Srinagar
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Keywords:Identity, Ethnolinguistic Vitality, Burushaski, Perceived Attitude, Kashmir
The study reports the findings of a survey undertaken to comprehend the factors that have enabled a group of around 350 Burushos to maintain their ethnic identity including their language after 125 years of their immigration to Kashmir in Jammu and Kashmir State of India. The group has been able to resist the assimilatory forces and has maintained itself as a distinct entity vis-a-vis the dominant Kashmiri host society. The study has drawn upon the empirical tool of ethnolinguistic vitality as a reflection of the group’s sustainability as a collective entity in terms of their ethnic as well as linguistic identity. The study also reveals the attitude of native Kashmiris towards the group as perceived by group members. This perceived attitude of the group members has been explained in terms of its bearing on the vitality and identity of the group. The study is based on 50 semi-structured questionnaires and four unstructured interviews. The questionnaire has been partly developed on the basis of six factors identified by UNESCO (2003) in the evaluation of ethnolinguistic vitality. The paper concludes that an ethnically small immigrant group can survive the assimilatory forces and maintain their ethnic identity even if the ethnolinguistic vitality of the group is quite low on most of the measurable factors.
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