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Chapter 4

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 227
Rex Brynen

Chapter 4: The Politics of Cultural Pluralism and Ethnic Conflict st rd -beginning of 21 century 3 world suffered from ethnic, racial and religious tensions -led to outbreaks of brutality -where progress in one area, deterioration in another -i.e. 2005, Sudanese gov’t signed peace accord granting south autonomy (self-rule) treaty ended 21 yr. civil war that left 2 million dead after ending conflict gov’t intensified “ethnic cleansing” in West; supported Arab militias (Janjaweed) killed thousands of Muslim Blacks and drove 1 million into refuge -i.e. in Rwanda, Hutus massacred 800 000 Tutsi -i.e. in Yugoslavia, Serbian militias initiated “ethnic cleansing” of Muslim and Croat neighbours -20 century: religious conflicts (India, Lebanon), tribal animosities (Nigeria, Rwanda), racial prejudices (South Africa) led to violence, civil wars, genocides -wars b/w “peoples” will outnumber wars b/w nation-states -for hundreds of years ethnic minorities victims of violence -level of ethnic protests/rebellions w/in states diminished since 1990s (had grown steadily in previous 50 yrs.) -ethnic internal based conflict increased, decrease in wars b/w nations 2/3 conflicts ethnic based, 80% of major conflicts in 1990s ethnic based -brutal wars in past decade: Bosnia, Serbia, Rwanda, Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, Lebanon, Indonesia—ethnic component since WWII 20 million died in ethnic conflict -predict increase in ethnic conflict over scarce resources in poor densely populated countries -ethnic conflict also in Western democracies and former communist countries (i.e. riots in L.A., Basque terrorism in Spain, separatists in Quebec, warfare in former Yugoslavia, etc.) rd -cruel in 3 world b/c LDCs more ethnically diverse and political systems lack institutions and experience approx. 275 minorities at risk; over 1 billion people -ethnic/racial/cultural hostilities oppose modernization theory and social psych. theory (social psych. theory supported at individual level but not b/w groups) social psych. theory: as people of different races increase contact better understand common qualities and decrease prejudices -not all ethnic tensions lead to systematic violence common in India, Middle East, Southeast Asia, portions of Africa less common in Latin America and Far East Defining Ethnicity -ethnic identity usually a social construction—“a way that certain groups have come to view themselves as distinct from others over time” -each ethnicity based on common belief of descent, shared experiences and cultural traits these traits unite group and distinguish it from proximate ethnicities -J. E. Brown—“A group of people united by a common error about their ancestry and a common dislike of their neighbors” -in times of crisis politicians create historical myths to give group sense of security -ethnic groups not usually socially homogeneous or politically united divided by class, ideology or religion (i.e. South Koreans= Buddhist, Christian or both) factors that bind group more important than those that divide them -some ethnic classifications imposed by outsiders (i.e. colonial admin., missionaries, explorers, anthropologists, etc.) -fear and insecurity w/in individual reduced by collectivity -ethnic consciousness creates barriers b/w groups (i.e. if interreligious or interracial marriages frowned upon) successful ethnic division: Canada, Malaysia, Trinidad-Tobago distrust b/w ethnicities: USA, India, Angola, Indonesia Ethnic and State Boundaries -cause of most internal ethnic conflict: 1) boundaries for nations (distinct cultural-linguistic groups) 2) ethnicities fail to coincide w/ boundaries for states (self-governing countries) -of 191 independent countries 82% have 2 or more ethnic groups (ethnic minorities consist of less than ½ of population) -Africans blame tribal conflict on European colonizers who divided region not connecting ethnic identities creation of hundreds of tiny states would not have been economically viable -colonialism one of many factors -breakdown of European colonialism led to unhappy ethnic marriages -i.e. following Italian and British rule colony of Eritrea forced to merge w/ Ethiopia struggle for independence, decades of civil war, hundreds of thousands killed Types of Ethnic-Cultural Divisions Nationality -nation—a population w/ its own language, cultural traditions, historical aspirations and geographical home -nationhood—belief that “interests and values of this nation take priority over all other interests and values” claim sovereignty over geographic area (unlike ethnic groups) -nation boundaries don’t always coincide w/ those of sovereign states (independent countries) -i.e. Chechens in Russia, Kashmiris in India, Basques in Spain, and Tamils in Sri Lanka -nationality politically important when members united w/ belief in common history and destiny -basis of national identification is the preservation of a distinct language -i.e. French Canadians, Turkish Kurds, Malaysian Chinese -nationalist movements seek to preserve group’s cultural identity and promote economic and political interests -separatist movements can arise when ethnic minority concentrated and represents majority of population in region -i.e. Tamil-speaking population in Sri Lanka; British conquest provoked friction b/w Sinhalese and Tamil minority conflict over language and cultural divisions after independence Sinhala replaced English as official language—Sinhalese given upper hand (i.e. in job market) in 1978 Tamil acquired equal legal status, Tamil demanded substantial autonomy in Tamil areas Sinhalese faced “minority complex”; threatened by 50 million Tamils living on Indian mainland faced with threats Tamil nationalists became violent; Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) engaged in guerrilla warfare and terrorism India intervened militarily, Indo-Lanka Peace Accord signed, rejected by many Sinhalese (particularly by National Liberation Front) 62 000 killed in civil war Tribe -term “tribe” fairly controversial; arbitrary and unhelpful -many scholars prefer to use terms ethnicity or ethno-linguistic groups -here, tribe used to describe subnational groups that share collective identity and language and believe selves to hold common lineage -term often used to describe Africa and sometimes Asia -tribal identification is a major determinant of support for political parties age, urban vs. rural origin and education also play role and sometimes reduces influence of tribe -intertribal conflict frequently sparks violence in Sub-Saharan Africa -i.e. in Nigeria 3 major ethnic groups: Hausa-Fulani, Ibo and Yoruba; each feared domination by the others 30 000 Ibos killed in military coups in 1966 Eastern Nigeria declared secession to become independent nation of Biafra, backed by Organization of African Unity armed forces surrounded Biafra and tightened grip 1 million Ibos died from war-induced famine Biafra surrendered, Ibos reintegrated into society, today tribal conflict still persists -conflict also seen in Burundi and Rwanda -Angolan and Mozambican civil wars major powers supported one side or the other -corrupt dictators launched campaigns against tribal minorities to win over other ethnic groups Race -most visible ethnic division -i.e. physical differences b/w Blacks, Whites and East Asians apparent -sometimes racial distinctions subtle and elusive -i.e. in La Paz, Bolivia, woman wearing bowler hat and distinctive native skirt is indigenous -racial divisions not linked to language or cultural differences -when people live in multiracial settings use race to distinguish themselves from “others” -South Africa example of racially based political conflict country ruled by White minority Blacks, majority of population, denied legal and economic rights Apartheid based on a four-fold racial classification: 1. Blacks—greatest level of legal discrimination 2. Coloureds (mixed race)—10% of population 3. Asians (mostly Indians and Pakistanis)—3% Coloureds and Asians had higher status and greater rights than Blacks 4. Whites—15%, had all political and economic power -international and domestic power to end Apartheid, election of Nelson Mandela, end of Apartheid, period of reconciliation Religion Religion has frequently been a source of bitter communal strife. There is potential tension, or even conflict between religious groups living in the same country. This type of conflict may put one religion against another, or may involve a conflict between 2 branches of the same religion (i.e. Islam). Two factors influence the likelihood of tension between religious groups: 1. The extent to which one religious community feels dominated by another. 2. The degree to which any religion regards their religion as the one true faith and that alternate theologies are unacceptable.  There has been much conflict between the Hindus and the Muslims in India and th Pakistan. In 1992, Hindu fundamentalists destroyed a 16 century mosque, which was located on the spot where they believed the god R=Ram had been born thousands of years ago. Violence between the Hindus and the Muslims intensified, and thousands on both sides were killed.  Muslim separatists in the Indian state of Kashmir are waging a guerilla war aimed at either independence or unification with Pakistan.  In Punjab, another Indian state, 55-60% of the residents are of the Sikh religion. Sikh militants claimed independence and wanted to name the new state Khalistan. There were several uprisings during the 1980’s and early 90’s. By the mid 90’s, after 20,000 combined deaths on both sides, the Indian military contained the separatist movement and support for independence seemed to wane.  Lebanon has also been a battlefield for warring religious factions. 17 religions are represented in the Lebanese political system and the most important are the Maronite Catholics, Shi’a Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and the Druze. The Muslims and the catholic minority have been in conflict over the representation in the government. In addition, Shi'a Muslims, with a larger population than the Sunnis, are fighting for more political power, more seats in the parliament, and more government resources, which are all concentrated in the hands of the smaller Shi'a population. Adding to the conflict were radical Palestinian refugees, and Syria, which wished to expand its borders. By 1975, there was heavy fighting between all the warring factions. After 15 years of violence and 150,000 deaths, the Arab league managed to negotiate a peace treaty.  In 1989, a Shi'a clergyman founded Hezbollah, a combo political party, armed militia, and social services provider. The party gained popularity when it helped drive the Israeli forces out of southern Lebanon, ending 18 years of occupation. It also set up a parallel system of social services, which proved more effective than the social services provided by the government. In 2006, after Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, Israel invaded Lebanon and launched mass bombings on Hezbollah strongholds. These bombings destroyed a large portion of the countries southern cities, and 1,150 Palestinians and 150 Israelis were killed in the conflict.  There is conflict between the Shi'a and Sunni Muslims in Iraq. The country is made up of approximately 15% Sunni, 60% Shi'a, and 20% Kurds. When the British left Iraq in 1932, the left power in the hands of the small Sunni elite. Since then, the Sunni have oppressed the Shi'a. Upon taking full power, Saddam Hussein intensified conflict by crushing an attempted Shi'a revolt after the gulf war in 1991. Towns in the Shi'a heartland in southern Iraq were razed, and tens of thousands of Shi'a were killed. The Shi'a people rejoiced when Saddam was deposed by the American military. But soon after, ethnic conflict would intensify again. The Sunni extremists began suicide bombings, killing many civilians and American soldiers. On the other side, a young cleric named Muqtada al-Sadr has emerged as the face of the Shi'a military. He commands the Mahdi army, a group of militants whose main aim is to react to the Sunni attacks on the Shi'a. The other major Shi'a militia is the Badr Brigade, the militia branch of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. The Badr Brigade has taken a more moderate stance though, and even has a working relationship with the American military. Dependence, Modernization, and Ethnic Conflict Western analysts once assumed that improved education and communication in the third world would break down ethnic conflict. Yet in Africa and Asia, it has frequently politicized and intensified ethnic antagonism. In the new political order after independence, religious, social, tribal, and nationality groups compete for such state resources as roads, schools, medical clinics, irrigation projects, and civil service jobs. Levels of Interethnic Conflict Although most countries are ethnically heterogeneous, there is a wide variation in how different ethnicities relate to one another. Public Harmony As seen before, modernization often intensifies ethnic antagonism in the short run, but usually calms them down in the long term. Thus, affluent democracies are more likely than LDC’s to enjoy amicable ethnic relations. Countries like Switzerland, the U.S. and Canada enjoy relative ethnic harmony. Although relative ethnic harmony is less common in LDC’s, there are example sin Brazil and the islands nations of the Caribbean, where relations between blacks and whites are generally more harmonious than in the U.S. But even countries classified as harmonious are only categorized that way relative to other, more sharply divided societies. For example, even though there is a history of inter-ethnic marriage in Cuba, blacks rarely attain positions of power, and there are still some prevalent racial slurs in the society. Uneasy Balance In some LDC’s, relations between the ethnic groups is more strained, in which different ethnic groups predominate in sp
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