Modernity, Tradition and Nuances of Class in Lesotho

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Abstract

Anthropological studies of identity commonly focus on culture, religion and ethnicity as bases for self identification and affiliation. This focus has come at the expense of broader foci such as class. Based on fieldwork in culturally homogeneous Lesotho, in this article I demonstrate how, in the wake of economic and political modernization, class consciousness has become a salient criteria for identity formation among Basotho in ways that are linguistically marked and culturally reconciled. Analyzing class consciousness provides a framework for understanding ways that urban, state, regional and global ideologies inform rural culture. Social scientists, especially anthropologists, should compliment post-modern analysis of incommensurable social identities with class analysis, as a basis for analyzing the cross cultural effects of modernization in national as well as localized settings.

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