Identity Matters

Identity Matters: Ethnic and Sectarian Conflict

James L. Peacock
Patricia M. Thornton
Patrick B. Inman
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 258
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  • Book Info
    Identity Matters
    Book Description:

    In response to the attacks of September 11, 2001 and war in Afghanistan, the Fulbright New Century Scholars program brought together social scientists from around the world to study sectarian, ethnic, and cultural conflict within and across national borders. As one result of their year of intense discussion, this book examines the roots of collective violence - and the measures taken to avoid it - in Burma (Myanmar), China, Germany, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Thailand, Tibet, Ukraine, Southeast Asia, and Western Europe.

    Case studies and theoretical essays introduce the basic principles necessary to identify and explain the symbols and practices each unique human group holds sacred or inalienable. The authors apply the methods of political science, social psychology, anthropology, journalism, and educational research. They build on the insights of Gordon Allport, Charles Taylor, and Max Weber to describe and analyze the patterns of behavior that social groups worldwide use to maintain their identities.

    Written to inform the general reader and communicate across disciplinary boundaries, this important and timely volume demonstrates ways of understanding, predicting and coping with ethnic and sectarian violence.

    Contributors:Badeng Nima, David Brown, Kwanchewan Buadaeng, Patrick B. Inman, Karina V. Korostelina, James L. Peacock, Thomas F. Pettigrew, Wee Teng Soh, Hamadou Tidiane Sy, Patricia M. Thornton, Mohammad Waseem.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-689-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Acknowledgments (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Notes on Contributors (pp. ix-xii)
  6. Introduction: Identity Matters (pp. 1-14)
    Patricia M. Thornton

    In February 2003, as news of American military operations in Afghanistan was giving way to speculation in the press about the looming invasion of Iraq, a multidisciplinary group of thirty-one scholars gathered in Pocantico, NY, to consider the continuing problem of sectarian, ethnic, and cultural conflict around the world. Brought together under the auspices of the Fulbright Foundation’s recently inaugurated New Century Scholars Program, the participants were actively engaged in individual research projects pertaining to the larger theme of political conflict from a broad range of perspectives. During the course of the program year, the New Century Scholars came together...

  7. 1 Ethnic Conflict and Civic Nationalism: A Model (pp. 15-33)
    David Brown

    It has frequently been suggested that the appeal of ethnicity and nationalism derives from the sense of security they offer to people experiencing social upheaval. This was at the core of several “modernist” explanations for the rise of nation-states, including the influential arguments of Karl Deutsch and Ernest Gellner. Deutsch (1966: 105) explained how the uprooting and mobilization of traditional societies could engender the transformation “from tribe to nation.” Gellner (1983: 63) argued that the shift from agrarian to industrial society meant the “dissipation” of rigid social structures, leaving “very little in the way of an effective, binding organization at...

  8. 2 Social Identity Matters: Predicting Prejudice and Violence in Western Europe (pp. 34-48)
    Thomas F. Pettigrew

    The extensive use of the concept of social identity throughout the social sciences and humanities attests to its fundamental importance. However, one social science discipline—social psychology—uses the concept as a central tool for much of its work. As the social science that explicitly sets out to study individuals within their social contexts, social psychology has shaped social identity into one of its most important concepts linking individual human beings with their groups and societies.

    Social identity has many functions, both cognitive and emotional. Its primary cognitive function involves social location. Identity helps to answer the important question for...

  9. 3 Readiness to Fight in Crimea: How It Interrelates with National and Ethnic Identities (pp. 49-72)
    Karina V. Korostelina

    Theories have been developed to explain the social and psychological processes by which category membership influences identity and intergroup conflict (Gaertner et al. 2000; Tajfel and Turner 1986; Turner et al. 1987), but considerably less attention has been given to the interrelations between identities. Research on ethnic conflicts and violence reveals a set of factors that have a significant impact on conflict behavior and negative intentions toward out-groups. Numerous studies show that in weak states with sizable minorities, the presence of salient ethnic identity among those minorities strongly encourages ethnic violence (Berry et al. 1989; Brewer 1991, 1996; Conover 1988;...

  10. 4 Ethnic Identities of the Karen Peoples in Burma and Thailand (pp. 73-97)
    Kwanchewan Buadaeng

    “Karen” is a generic term for speakers of Karenic languages and their descendants.¹ Members of this ethnic minority live mostly along the frontier between Burma and Thailand.² In Burmese statistics, the category “Karen” comprises many small groups. Since survey methods differ and, more importantly, different surveys include and exclude different subgroups, estimates of the Karen population in Burma vary widely. A 1911 survey counted 1.1 million Karen out of a total Burmese population of 8 million. The official census of 1931 found 1.4 million. The Karen National Union (KNU), a pan-Karen political organization, believes this to be an undercount, because...

  11. 5 European Attitudes toward Immigrants (pp. 98-119)
    Thomas F. Pettigrew

    A growing research literature in the social sciences focuses on prejudice and discrimination against Europe’s millions of new immigrants (Pettigrew 1998b). Past results from this work can be divided into two distinct categories of research literature and disciplinary theories. Interestingly, the findings and conclusions from these two traditions often appear to be in conflict.

    In the first category—individual and intergroup levels of analyses—social psychologists show that patterns of anti-immigrant prejudice and discrimination closely resemble the forms of prejudice and discrimination against nonimmigrant minorities described in the general literature (Jackson et al. 2001; Pettigrew et al. 1998). In basic...

  12. 6 Tibetan Identity in Today’s China (pp. 120-129)
    Badeng Nima

    In this chapter, I examine the problem of social identity that faces Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China. Drawing on personal interviews conducted in western China, I highlight Tibetans’ major concerns about their traditional beliefs, economic circumstances, religion, and education. Ultimately, my goal is to consider how Tibetans can achieve a meaningful identity that draws upon their past traditions while still prospering in the modern world. Only by doing so can they achieve a peaceful resolution to their turbulent status as an ethnic minority in contemporary China.

    The Tibetan situation can be productively situated within the context of a...

  13. 7 Cross-Cutting Identities in Singapore: Crabgrass on the Padang (pp. 130-156)
    James L. Peacock and Wee Teng Soh

    Picture a smooth, green lawn on the grounds of the Singapore Cricket Club, founded in 1852. In 1963, Singapore celebrated its new nationhood on this site. The lawn is called “the Padang,” a precolonial Malay name, and it remains a ceremonial center of the postcolonial national government. The last thing you would expect to find here is crabgrass, a hardy weed that crops up in lawns, growing in tufts and swirls.¹

    Singapore’s official policies and institutions articulate a well-managed society with an intentionally global, multicultural identity. Within this society, less controlled yet vital and hardy identities crop up here and...

  14. 8 The Casamance Separatist Conflict: From Identity to the Trap of “Identitism” (pp. 157-170)
    Hamadou Tidiane Sy

    Two decades of deadly conflict between the government of Senegal, a West African nation on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, and the separatist Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de la Casamance (MFDC), based in its southern region, Casamance, have singled out Casamance and some of its inhabitants as different from the rest of the Senegalese nation. Although referred to generally as “the Casamance crisis,” this separatist conflict pits the Senegalese government primarily against the Diola, one of the many ethnic groups in Casamance, which is among the most ethnically diverse regions of Senegal (Benoist 1984). Setting aside the sometimes biased...

  15. 9 Manufacturing Sectarian Divides: The Chinese State, Identities, and Collective Violence (pp. 171-189)
    Patricia M. Thornton

    In the predawn hours of 24 April 1999, an unusual group slowly began assembling before Zhongnanhai, the highly guarded and gated compound that houses the elite national leaders of the Chinese party-state. Appearing to arrive nearly simultaneously in small bands from all corners of Beijing, they silently congregated before the compound gates and formed a neat grid only a few blocks from famed Tiananmen Square, the site of the massive student demonstrations that had been brutally suppressed almost exactly ten years earlier. By noon, the crowd had swelled to over ten thousand and occupied at least three streets surrounding the...

  16. 10 Islam and the West: A Perspective from Pakistan (pp. 190-204)
    Mohammad Waseem

    Since 11 September 2001, a lot has been written on the emerging relationship between Islam and the West, represented respectively by Muslim states and nonstate actors and the capitals of the Atlantic community. Intellectual debate first framed this relationship in terms of terrorism and then, increasingly, in the context of a war against terrorism led by the United States.

    As is well known, the US reacted to the events of 9/11 by seeking to destroy the infrastructure of terrorism. The global consensus that supported the initial stages of the US response quickly disintegrated into a controversy that continues to split...

  17. Conclusion: Ethnic and Sectarian as Ideal Types (pp. 205-234)
    Patrick B. Inman and James L. Peacock

    The conveners of the 2002–2003 Fulbright New Century Scholars Program sought to understand the causes of ethnic and sectarian violence in order to aid in its prevention and amelioration. “Ethnic” and “sectarian” define marginal groups with nonhegemonic identities. A successful ethnicity is a nation; a successful sect, a religion. The proposal to study ethnicities and sects implied the perspective of outsiders, neither ethnic nor sectarian but somehow objective or ecumenical, above the fray.

    In history, this is a point of view most often claimed by the representatives of empires, whether temporal, spiritual, or scientific. However, objective observers, impartial referees,...

  18. Index (pp. 235-244)


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