Many of us live in large cities of the modern world, which in general are heterogeneous multi-ethnic societies. Immigrants come to these settlements looking for better living conditions and for work opportunities. Immigrants also tend to stay close to their kinsmen and to people coming from their places of origin, for solidarity purposes, to reproduce a sense of belonging and cohesion, as well as for group identity. Frontiers between modern states also involve multi-ethnic relations, migratory processes, and tensions. The movements and flow of people, ideas, objects, and information from place to place is an issue that is being addressed as a new mobility paradigm. As it is in the present, it was in the past. Ethnic groups, whether formed in the periphery of states or inserted as ethnic enclaves, claim a common ancestry, share cultural values, and sometimes even a common language. In general, ethnic identity is a cultural and dynamic construction. In Blanton’s words, ethnicity is a form of “trust-building signaling,” a strategy for the establishment of a socially cooperative group. The benefits of ethnic signaling are best seen in zones of weak periphery incorporation along boundary zones or frontiers of polities or world systems, in the context of intercultural trade, and in contexts of poorly functioning or failed states.
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