Naming a person makes him or her a part of the social world—a name gives the person a social identity. At the same time, a name stands for the person, it symbolizes personal identity. It indicates to members of society who the named one is and, to the named one, who he or she is expected to be. Comparing naming practices and name acquisition by blacks and Jews in British colonial West Africa and Central Europe during the century of emancipation from the 1780s to the 1860s, and during the subsequent era of growing exclusionist racism and anti-Semitism, this essay examines being given a name and taking or changing a name as acts of identification, differentiation, camouflaging, and resistance.

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