POL320Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: European Colonialism, Nominalism, Cosmopolitanism

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Pol201 Lecture 2 Ethnic Conflict (16.1.18)
Ethnicity and ethnic based conflict
The term ethnicity refers to a myth of origin. You share common origin
A country in conflict can not develop
The origin emphasizes ancestry
Migration also has an influence on ethnicity, Others stress the importance of
history, most often migration (volkerwanderun) and settlement, but also of
political passage, be it escape from oppression or the colonization of new territory
The meaning
Originated in the 14th century
o It originally referred to heathens or pagans
o Now it refers to new comers who are not white, it is now used a as racial
context
The US coined the word Fold immigrants
Many groups are known by the language they speak, like French would be
referring to the French people
Ethnic groups are defined as…
o “groups larger than a family for which membership is reckoned primarily
by descent, is conceptually autonomous and has a conventionally
recognized ‘natural history’ as a group” (Laitin)
Max Webber defines them as
o “Those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common
descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or
because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be
important for group formation; furthermore it does not matter whether an
objective blood relationship exists”
The characteristics of ethnicity
Carwford young provides three features of ethnicity
o Firstly, ethnicity rests upon a variable list of shared cultural attributes
(e.g. language, ancestry and kinship ideologies, cultural practices,
symbolic repertoires, or modes of religious observation)
o Secondly, ethnicity is defined by an active consciousness of collective
selfhood
o Thirdly, ethnicity is defined by boundaries. “They” constitute the “us”;
whom one is depends upon whom one is not.
Anthony Smith says the characteristics of ethnic groups are
o A collective proper name, a myth of common ancestry,
o Shared historical memories, one or more differentiating elements of
common culture,
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o An association with a specific homeland, and a sense of solidarity for
significant sectors of the population
Defining ethnicity on the basis of other singular factors is just as
faulty
Theoretical Approaches to ethnicity
Primordialism the view that ethnic groups are ancient and immemorial kinship
groups and thus given facts of life (its biological and doesn’t change and fixed)
o Ethnicity is immutable, unchangeable, fixed.
o Ethnic identities are more fundamental than other types of identity
o Conflict based on ethnicity is inevitable
o Ethnicity is not subject to rational cost/benefit calculations - it belongs to
the realm of emotion
o Identity around ethnicity is the most important
Modernism/Instrumentalism - nominalism (ethnic identification is used in
order to achieve specific goals)
o A battle of perception and can change over time
o Despite some basis, ethnic identities and histories are usually created and
embellished by entrepreneurial politicians, intellectuals and journalists
flexible, manipulative, multi-vocal, ever-changing perception of
identity
Constructivism dominant paradigm ethnic groups are artificial constructs of
modern elites (opposed to Primordialism )
o For most scholars ethnic identity is usually a social construction rather
than an inherent or primordial characteristic
Marxism
o Ethnicity is epiphenomenal, secondary to deeper forces (i.e. material
interests).
o Marxism emphasizes class identity you either belong to ne class or
another (a class identity) and Universalism/ Cosmopolitanism, not other
forms of identity (ethnic, religious, and national)
o Ethnic identifications = false consciousness.
o Marxist revolution (Workers of the World Unite!) will end ethnic based
thinking
Artificial creation of ethnicity
Some ethnic classifications were initially imposed by outsiders (Belgians in
Congo with non-existent “myth of Bangala”
Many Africans attribute the consistent legacy of ethnic conflict to the legacy of
European colonialism that was decided in Berlin conference, 1884-1885
Also, despite some basis, these identities and histories are usually created and
embellished by entrepreneurial politicians, intellectuals and journalists
Many states are multiethnic and multi-national and out of 191 independent state
82% contain two or more ethnic groups
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Document Summary

Ethnicity and ethnic based conflict: the term ethnicity refers to a myth of origin. Artificial creation of ethnicity: some ethnic classifications were initially imposed by outsiders (belgians in. Congo with non-existent myth of bangala : many africans attribute the consistent legacy of ethnic conflict to the legacy of. Indian population in latin america: systematic violence characterized by deep ethnic resentments and massive violence or civil war (e. g. chechnya, lebanon, bangladesh, Source of ethnic conflict: ethno-political conflicts stem from a wide range of ideological, demographic, religious, ethnic (identity), economic, social-structural, and political conditions. Key explanations include: resources scarcity, demographic stress and geopolitical and. Causes of internal conflict: ethnic groups seeking greater autonomy or striving to create an independent state for themselves (such as the kurds in turkey and chechens in russia) Practices that might create nationalist grievances: creation of an official language, banning of certain forms of cultural expression (music, dress, preferential employment opportunities, preferential political opportunities, changing of place names.

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