PO377 ETHNIC CONFLICT AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE Week 7: Ethnicity, Nations and Nationalisms Lecture Outline Conceptual Approaches to Ethnicity: Primordialism vs. Instrumentalism History and Nature of Nationalism(s)
Ethnicity as primordial and ethnicity as instrumental Critique of primordialism Critique of instrumentalism Primordialism vs. modernism Civic nationalism and ethnic or ethnonationalism The nation-state Summary Primordialism vs. Instrumentalism Ethnicity as primordial Ethnicity is deeply ingrained in human history and experience (Wolff 2006, p. 33). Ethnic bonds are primordial and unlike other bonds: have an over-powering nonrational, emotional
quality; are largely inexplicable; are ancient, enduring and recurrent; given, natural and immutable. Ethnicity as instrumental Ethnicity is socially and politically constructed over time. Ethnicity is foremost a resource in the hands of leaders to mobilize followers in the pursuit of other interests (Wolff 2006, p. 33). Ethnic bonds are related to political and social projects; instrumentally mobilized as a means to gain material goals.
Primordialism vs. Instrumentalism (2) Early modernization theory predicted that modernization would break down peoples localised ethnic identities and replace them with loyalties to larger communities. The resurgence/persistence of ethnic conflict seems to challenge this. Explanations for the persistence of ethnic conflict in a modernizing world can often be divided into primordialist and instrumentalist schools; Harff and Gurr see constructivism as a third position (2004 chpt. 5, week 9 reading list). Primordialism vs.
Instrumentalism (3) Scholars we might categorise as primordialists (to some degree): Edward Shils, Clifford Geertz, Harold Isaacs, Walker Connor. Scholars we might categorise as constructivists (more or less): Michael Hechter, Charles Tilly, Ernest Gellner, Donald Horowitz, most feminist scholars of ethnicity. Anthony Smith as an ethno-symbolist. Primordialism vs. Instrumentalism (4) Critique of primordialism James McKay (1982) challenges implication that ethnic identities are static and rejects sense of primacy about ethnicity. Primordialists also dont account for why
ethnic relations are peaceful in some instances but conflictual in others. Horowitz (2002): primordialists ignore how ethnicity is formed and causes, varieties of and solutions to conflict. Primordialists focus on the nature of ethnic identification and dont produce detailed theories of ethnic conflict. Primordialists dont sufficiently distinguish between maintenance of ingroup solidarity and cultivation of outgroup hostility; between affirming identity and pursuing conflict (Horowitz 2002). Primordialism vs. Instrumentalism (4) Critique of instrumentalism McKay (1982): approach has explanatory power for some groups in some situations, but not for all.
McKay (1982): Humans struggle over ideals and values as well as economic and political interests cannot reduce all ethnic disputes to economic disparities. (See Douglass 1988 too.) Instrumentalism fails to understand the non-rational, emotional depth of national identity: the passions at either extreme end of the hate-love continuum which the nation often inspires, and the countless fanatical sacrifices which have been made in its name (Connor 1994, see chpt. 8). Ethnicity is not primordial but members experience it primordially (Horowitz 2002). Primordialism vs. Instrumentalism (6) [E]thnic identity should perhaps rather be seen as something that has roots in a groups culture, and historical experiences and traditions,
but that is also dependent upon contemporary opportunities that can be a useful instrument for mobilizing people for social, political, or economic purposes that may or may not be related directly to their ethnic origins (Wolff 2006, pp. 36-37). History and Nature of Nationalism(s) Primordialism vs. modernism Primordialists focus on ancient and inherited social practices as the source of authentic national community; nations are seen to have ancient roots. Modernists (e.g. Benedict Anderson, Ernest Gellner, Eric Hobsbawm) view nations as specifically modern, the result of political and economic developments in European history, traced to last quarter of 18th century (Enlightenment). First conceptions of nationalism were primarily
civic and territorial; ethnic nationalism rose in importance in 19th century (see Anthony Smith 2000 or 1998). History and Nature of Nationalism(s) (2) Civic nationalism Civic/territorial conceptions of the nation regard it as a community of shared culture, common laws, and territorial citizenship. With civic nationalism residence and political participation in a public culture tend[s] to determine citizenship and membership of the nation (Smith 1993).
Ethnic or ethno-nationalism Ethnic conceptions of the nation focus on the genealogy of its members, however fictive; on popular mobilization of the folk; on native history and customs; and on the vernacular culture (Smith 1993). Therefore, ethno-nationalism involves the politicisation of ethnicity and usually territorial as well as political claims. History and Nature of Nationalism(s) (3) Anderson (1991): the nation as an imagined political community and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.
Smith: agrees nationalism is a modern phenomenon yet stresses ethnic origins of modern nations. Yuval-Davis (1997): a sense of common destiny is as important in constructing nations as the myth of common origins. Nationalism is Janus-faced (week 8 reading list). Many different forms of nationalism: dominant/state; settler-state (or settler-colonial); anti-colonial; postcolonial; indigenous; linguistic (integrally connected to ethno-nationalism); revolutionary socialist or communist nationalisms; etc. History and Nature of Nationalism(s) (4) The nation-state Proposition that a nation should have self-government within the same state; assumes a complete
correspondence between the boundaries of the nation and the boundaries of those who live in a specific state (Yuval-Davis 1997, p. 11). BUT in most societies are people who arent members of the hegemonic nation (in ethnic or civic terms); some members of national collectivities live in other states; some nations have never had a state. Ethnic nation-states: Pierre van den Berghe (1990): less than 15% of contemporary states are nation-states and most are micro-states. David Welsh (1993): less than 20 of approx. 180 contemporary states are ethnically homogeneous. History and Nature of Nationalism(s) (5) The nation-state Civic nation-states: requires difficult nation-building project. Can have ethnic undertones that make minorities feel excluded.
Talk of the nation-state is usually uncritical. Effect of the nation-state fiction has been to naturalize the hegemony of one collectivity and its access to the ideological apparatuses of both state and civil society (Yuval-Davis 1997, p. 11). So there are problems with both ethnic and civic conceptualizations of the nation-state. Summary Different conceptual approaches to the study of ethnicity: Primordialism: given and more or less immutable conception of ethnicity; ethnicity (and nationalism) as a
real and deeply felt emotional bond; pushes it towards ideas of inevitable ethnic and ethno-national conflict. Instrumentalism: social constructionist, recognises potential for change in conceptions of ethnicity; ethnic conflict stems from competition for material resources and perceived or real deprivation; leaders stir up ethnic mobilization. Arguably neither school of thought accurately captures the entirety of processes of ethnic identification or fully explains the varied elements of ethnic mobilization towards conflict with the other. Summary (2) Modernist theorists of nationalism view nations as being a result of specific 18th century political, economic and ideological developments in Europe. Primordialist sympathisers argue that even if the ideology of nationalism is modern, nations as
communities and identities have existed for far longer and are largely based on ethnicity. Numerous different forms of nationalism and specific variants in particular places and time periods, but a significant overarching typology divides nationalism into civic and ethnic forms (though this is not unproblematic).
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