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  • 1 Central Connecticut State University Anthropology Department New Britain CT USA
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Deconstructing the diverse meaning behind the common metaphor “Little America”, this paper explores widely disparate ethnic identity conceptions and inter-ethnic relations in two regions of Transylvania, showing them as dependent on the ways in which each region was integrated into changing patterns of global labor. Regional ethnic identity and relations in the Jiu Valley coal producing region and in the mixed agro-industrial Fǎgǎraş zone vary greatly. In the former, ethnic identity was downplayed and inter-ethnic relations always kept on an even keel owing to the particular process of regional settlement and the common integration of the region’s ethnic groups into the hard coal industry that dominated the Valley from the middle of the 18th century. In the latter region, ethnic relations were frequently tense due to a highly discrete ethnic-based division of labor and organization of political hierarchy. Despite these differences, citizens of each region expressed their ethnic dynamic through use of the “Little America” metaphor. However, in the Jiu Valley this referred to alleged ethnic peace of cooperating national groups, while in Fǎgǎraş this notion referred to the dream of struggling for social mobility and differentiation. The paper thus shows how such basic ethnic conceptions, shaped by the treatment of regional labor in successive phases of the global economy, influence a wide range of differing attitudes toward diverse social and political processes, including socialist development policies and the modern global labor market.

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