See linked pages:  Preface || Friedman || Tehranian || Hall || Bigo || Teune || glossary 
THE MODERNITY OF ETHNIC IDENTITY AND CONFLICT
Widespread apprehension and fear of catastrophe pervade the world at
the close of the 20th century. The Cold War finale, paradoxically, has
not brought an end to history or opened an era of universal peace and democratic
capitalism. Instead, we see violent conflicts between weakened states and
rebellious ethnonational communities. An explanation cannot be found in
primordialist theories or current expediency -- instead, we must look to
historical forces rooted in modernity and the rise and fall of industrial
empires. From their ashes a host of newer states and mobilizing ethnic
nations have arisen, all hoping to experience the fruits of modernization:
notably industrialization, democracy and nationalism.
The Negative Effects of Modernization. No doubt there are historical
parallels: multi-culturalism (polyethnicity) arose thousands of years ago
and persists today, but has been deeply re-shaped by modernity which has
now given it novel and menacing features. Since modernizers usually claim
that modernization will bring rationality and the rule of law, democracy
and peace with justice for all, it is hard for them to acknowledge that
modernization has, instead, transformed the dynamics of multi-culturalism,
making it not just a underlying fact of life but, instead, a focus of inter-group
tension in the rising malaise of ethnic nationalism and civil wars, genocide
and refugees. Ethnic conflicts have become a global concern and international
interventions designed to cope with their causes and with their consequences
are proliferating -- good illustrative case studies can be found in Thompson
and Ronen (1986) and an ever increasing flow of monographs and media reports.
In order to understand why ethnic conflicts are modern, we need to understand
the place of polyethnicity in pre-modern societies, and see how it has
been transformed by modernity. Although multi-culturalism (or "polyethnicity")
has existed since the dawn of cities and civilizations, the conflicts typical
of pre-modern societies were not viewed as mainly ethnic. Rather, rivalry
between rulers, tribes, pastoral and sedentary peoples, and popular uprisings
against tyrannical rule were explained in non-ethnic terms. Although revolting
slaves might be ethnically different from their masters, they did not proclaim
any sovereign rights based on their ethnic identity: instead, they merely
demanded more humane treatment. Comments about these forms of pre-modern
conflict and the limited extent to which they involved inter-ethnic differences
are contained in the papers by Friedman and Hall presented in this symposium.
It is striking that Hall's recently published book, The Rise and Demise
of World-systems lacks any index entry mentioning ethnicity or ethnonational
conflicts. Pre-modern societies were typically multi-cultural and prone
to violent conflicts -- but these conflicts were rarely, if ever, attributed
directly to ethnic differences.
That has now changed fundamentally. When we look into the fundamental
transformations wrought by modernity in our contemporary world system,
we see that ethnic identity and conflict has now become a major force.
We need to understand why this is true, and also to learn how modern ethnic
conflicts can be resolved or minimized. The mounting world crisis caused
by modernity makes such knowledge increasingly important. Although ethnic
conflict is part of that crisis, we can perhaps alleviate the crisis if
we learn more about how to reduce the severity of the conflicts that cultural
differences now generate.
This essay supports these sweeping generalizations by considering first
the sweeping changes brought about by contemporary modernity followed by
a discussion of the distinctively modern forms of ethnicity, and how they
affect the identity of ethnics and their inter-relationships.
THE NATURE OF MODERNITY
Modernity is highly ambivalent and increasingly global. It combines
benefits with disasters -- both positive and negative consequences. We
need to recognize that these contradictory results are inextricably linked
with each other: it is often impossible to enjoy the former without suffering
the latter: we cannot enjoy the advantages of driving an automobile without
risking fatal accidents; we cannot take advantage of modern medicine without
increasing the population and multiplying the number of dependent elderly
Our vocabulary is so polarized that we cannot easily express both the
good and the bad in a single term. We view "melodies" as beautiful
and "maladies" as ugly --yet both apply with equal force to the
consequences of modernity. I have proposed the use of malody as a blend
that links these contradictory Janus-like aspects of a single process --
anyone offended by the vulgarity of this neologism can substitute the phrase,
"melody and malady," provided they remember that these are not
two different things but contradictory aspects of a single process. We
can scarcely enjoy the melodies of modernity without simultaneously experiencing
The rise of modern imperialism as a world-encircling affliction can
be seen as, perhaps, the most important negative consequence of modernity,
and the collapse of these empires following the great wars of the 20th
century is widely celebrated as a positive effect. However, the continuing
turmoil within both the successor states and the imperial heartlands must
also be viewed as negative effects of modernity. Increasing hostility between
ethnic nations and weak states is one of the most conspicuously negative
An early manifestation of modernity was the conspicuous misery of the
urban poor, folks attracted to expanding cities by the lures of industrial
employment. The benefits of industrialization required the liberation of
workers from serfdom -- Polanyi The Great Transformation. ?? The social
problems generated by this transformation led to reform movements, including
those that brought a single party to power in the Soviet Union. Its multi-ethnic
population led to a Stalinist solution in which ethnic nations were promised
autonomy but experienced centralized party domination, leading to growing
nationalist sentiments that exploded when the Union collapsed.
The industrial revolution and rise of modern empires both led to massive
increases in migration, both by workers seeking land and better job opportunities,
and by refugees fleeing oppression. As a consequence the mixture of peoples
and inter-ethnic frictions mounted. Simultaneously, democratic norms and
nationalist ideals heightened the sense of oppression and exploitation
experienced by those whose expectations and hopes could not be realized.
In the successor states of both the Socialist and Capitalist empires
generated by modernity, ethnic nationalism has emerged as salient force.
Refugees and migrants in growing numbers have accentuated the problems
of ethnic diversity. These are not problems caused by traditionalism or
resistance to modernization -- rather, they are the direct consequences
of modernity. In order to appreciate more clearly what we may understand
as the basic forces of modernity, we need to identify its most conspicuous
features, and notice some related factors that are often confused with
modernity. The necessary and incidental aspects of modernity can be identified
rather easily, I think, when we contemplate the phenomenon of the modern
. The notion of a modern
state may be defined as a polity characterized by industrialization
and democratization combined with a sense of national identity. In this
usage, modernity refers to a condition rather than a time -- thus some
contemporary states are not modern. No doubt the original meaning of "modern"
was present day or contemporary, by contrast with past times and all modern
states are, by definition, contemporary in the sense that they have evolved
within the last few centuries -- 300 years, perhaps, but especially during
the last 150 years. We need to distinguish clearly between the qualities
of modernity and the past/present/future time-frame.
All pre-modern states were not modern, by definition, but in today's
world, many contemporary states are non-modern, notably to the degree that
they resist the use of industrial products and methods, rely on supernatural
or hierarchical sources of authority rather than popular sovereignty, and
regard ethnic homogeneity as unimportant. Few countries at the end of the
20th century meet these criteria: Bhutan may come closest. The criteria
of modernity are, no doubt, idealizations that are rarely, if ever, fully
actualized. Modern states that are conspicuously multi-ethnic stress their
ideological goals rather than national unity -- the former Soviet Union
and South Africa under apartheid are good examples. The goal of "Americanization"
has been important in the United States but obstacles to its attainment
have led increasingly to emphasis on such values as "freedom,"
"equality," and "justice" for all, regardless of ethnicity.
Nevertheless, many Americans still think it's important for citizens to
speak one language and share a common ethos, becoming, thereby, a unified
If we recognize that each of these properties refers to an ideal type
rather than an empirical reality, we can see that there are no fully "modern"
states. However, we may think of any state as modern to the degree that
it is characterized by:
democracy: the acceptance, in principle, of political legitimacy based on the popular election of representatives and the accountability of public officials to representative institutions, and
All three of these dimensions significantly affect ethnic identity and
generate ethnic conflict when they are imperfectly actualized. Each of
these them has ancient roots, but they became linked in the modern format
only in recent centuries. They evolved gradually: they certainly did not
suddenly spring into existence. We might usefully distinguish between different
degrees or stages of modernity. We could, for example, use proto-modern
to refer to states at an early stage in the development of modernity, and
neo-modern for the contemporary or late stages in their evolution.
All contemporary states have been deeply affected by modernity, though
in varying degrees -- the negative (malady) aspects often prevail over
the positive (melody) effects. All of the industrialized democracies are
neo- modern, but many of the new countries are what Robert Jackson has
called "quasi-states" (Jackson, 1990), lacking essential properties
of a modern state. A more descriptive term is anarchian
(a blend of 'anarchy' and 'authoritarianism') which points to weak
authoritarian regimes that are unable to control or serve large areas within
their formal boundaries where war lords, gangs, and ethnonational movements
flourish -- for more details see Riggs, 1996a or open: [http://www2.hawaii.edu/~fredr/6-tan5a.htm]
Such regimes are more modern than traditional, however. I call them
para-modern in the sense that they manifest the negative side-effects
of modernity: hungry for the products of industrialization but unable to
manage complex productive processes; happy to receive the support global
institutions offer to "democracies" yet unwilling to accept the
self-limitations that make real democracy possible; eager to live in culturally
homogeneous states yet reluctant to accept the transformations called for
by the ideals of nationalism. These are the conditions that, I believe,
have generated ethnic cleavages and produced a host of ethnonational revolts.
What is not Modern? Whatever existed before modernity came into
existence was, obviously, pre-modern but that does not mean that basic
elements of modernity did not exist before modernity arose. Each of the
three strands entwined in the cable of modernity has ancient antecedents
that gradually evolved in the Western world into a pattern that we can
identify as modern. Although much of the rest of the world has embraced
this pattern and modernized, with greater or less success, large parts
of the world remain non-modern (it is anachronistic to call any contemporary
society "pre-modern").However, they are surely para-modern--insofar
as their efforts to embrace modernity selectively, have failed to achieve
its desired benefits although its worst consequences often prevail, including
the proliferation of ethno-political revolts and bloody civil wars. In
order to talk clearly about the properties associated with modernity we
need to distinguish them clearly from phenomena associated with the terms
traditional and Western.
Traditional refers to an Epimethean
orientation that values the past, and should be contrasted with a Promethean
(futurist) point of view that stresses change and new possibilities (Sheldon
1936, p. 78). Traditionalism
(or "neo-traditionalism") flourishes in many modern as well
as non-modern societies -- it relates to a point of view, not a country,
regime or type of society. Clearly traditionalism motivates more people
in some countries than others, and both future and past orientations are
time-conscious -- in many countries what Sheldon calls the "waster"
point of view is dominant -- this is the attitude of people who focus on
their current experiences and interests without much regard for either
the past or the future (Sheldon, p. 82).
One may argue that non-modern societies stress traditionalism whereas
more people in modern societies are oriented toward innovation and change
or what Giovanni Sartori refers to as novitism, a preoccupation with promoting
change for its own sake. An obvious sign of novitism is emphasis on the
"new" and the "post-" as necessarily better than the
old, a posture reflected in the current vogue of "post-modernism."
Unfortunately, notivism scarcely leads to prometheanism -- a deep concern
for the future and its problems. Precisely because of the speed with which
changes occur in any modern society, we desperately need such a future
orientation, yet prometheans are as likely to be tormented in modern as
in non-modern societies, and epimetheans are still widely admired and energetically
promote traditionalist religious causes. Broadly speaking, all the many
attitudes and value systems associated with modernity may well be discussed
under the heading of modernism
but, whatever we call them, we should maintain a distinction between
the concrete socio-economic and political changes linked with modernity
and the subjective values and attitudes we may call modernistic or,
more generally, modernism, including many post- or neo-traditionalist causes..
My guess is that everywhere, at all times, most people focus on the
present and how best to meet their urgent immediate needs -- they may not
be "wasters" (as Sheldon defines this term) but they are "sensate"
in the sense used by Sorokin (1941). These orientations cut across the
traditionalism/novitism spectrum -- I suspect that the most widely prevalent
attitudes are neither traditional nor novitistic but something in between.
Although traditionalism was widespread in all pre-modern societies,
there is such a wide range of variation between the most advanced civilizations
of the past and primitive food-gathering communities that it is more confusing
than clarifying to lump them together as "traditional." More
importantly, we should recognize that most of today's afflictions, especially
those based on ethnic conflicts, result from para-modern, not traditional,
What is Western? Another type of over-simplification arises from
the careless use of Western as a synonym for modern. As explained above,
I use modern to refer to the structural changes that link a modern
state with industrialization, democratization and national identity. By
contrast, Western is a geographic term used to contrast the cultural
practices that evolved in one place (the "West") with those that
evolved in other places, i.e., the "Rest". To underline this
distinction, consider that until the end of the 17th century, Westerners
were not modern: the world depicted by Shakespeare, Chaucer, Cervantes,
Dante or Boccaccio was clearly Western but scarcely modern -- unless we
use this word in its transhistorical sense as proposed by Friedman (in
this collection). Consider also that many non-Westerners in the world today
are very modern -- as in Japan, India or Egypt -- while simultaneously
they often reject Western life-styles and cultural norms.
Actually, it is difficult to operationalize the notion of "Western,"
and I avoid the term. If the core notion is that of Western Europe and
the lands now occupied primarily by persons of European origin, should
it include or exclude the peoples of Latin America, of South Africa, of
Israel? Historically, how far back does "Western" extend -- to
feudal Europe, to the Roman Empire, to Greece and Egypt? Originally "Europe"
identified Greece north of the Gulf of Corinth, or, etymologically, it
meant the "land of the setting sun," i.e., the "West"
as viewed from the Levant (i.e., the land of the rising sun"). The
meaning of Europe gradually expanded westward until it ultimately include
the British Islands. We now use "West"
for an expanded notion of Europe that includes North America and Australia/New
Zealand but not, scornfully, South America. The evolving sense of Europe
as an expanding realm is described in Leclerq (1982, pp. 8-10).
If characterizing what is Western is confusing, consider the
definition of its logical contrary. Geographically, the contrary of "west"
is "east" and, for a long time, Europeans thought of the East
as the whole world east of the Mediterranean. Apart from the parochialism
reflected in this usage, the globalization of the world system now makes
this dichotomy absurd. After the collapse of the industrial empires, the
West became the North and a new dichotomy with the South emerged.
However, the globalization of the world that has succeeded the Cold War
makes even this distinction anachronistic. We are now led to a new dichotomy
between the West and the Rest. Although this involves a neat rhyming of
monosyllables, can we assign any useful meaning to the Rest? As
a we/they dichotomy, it is as parochial and less justifiable than the Chinese
"jung/wai" distinction between the Center and the Outside
(the civilized and the barbarian). It is inescapably ethnocentric.
The boundary between the West and Rest is, surely, a fuzzy zone of indeterminacy and each can be both non-modern and modern. Increasingly, in the global syncretism that modernity has created, we can assimilate everyone's heritage to our own -- but cosmopolitanism is not modernity -- rather, it is a ripe fruit of modernity. Actually, the information revolution that Majid Tehranian describes (in this collection) has not only accelerated the Westernization of the world, but it has encouraged a parallel process of the Resternization of the West. As a result of modernity, a kind of global cosmopolitanism is evolving in consort with the information revolution and the pancapitalism, which Tehranian also describes T
THE ROOTS OF MODERN ETHNICITY
As noted above, cross cultural relations (polyethnicity) have existed
since the dawn of civilization -- only in the most primitive food-gathering
societies can we imagine mono-cultural homogeneity as a normal phenomenon.
Ethnic differences and interactions between groups sharing different cultural
norms -- based on language, religion, customs and ancestry, etc. -- continue
into the present age, often without serious change.
Following the rise of modernity, however, ethnicity
became linked to the modern state in ways that make it a new phenomenon,
taking the varied and overlapping forms of ethnic nationalism, civic ethnicity
and ethnic plurality. Before looking more closely at these modern
forms of ethnicity, however, let us consider how they are affected by the
three entwined strands of modernity: industrialism, democracy and nationalism.
Each has ancient precedents but their contemporary significance evolved
only during the past few centuries when they became linked.
No doubt, each strand can be analyzed independently of the others, and
our social science disciplines encourage us to do that: economists study
industrialism; political scientists focus on democracy; sociologists and
anthropologists on nationalism. The modern role of each, however, becomes
apparent only when it is examined in context with the others. Each has
a long history that can be traced to pre-modern developments, but modernity
evolved when they interacted with each other to produce the modern state.
To flesh out this generalization, let me just mention their ancient precursors
and then talk about how they are linked by modernity, especially through
the modern state.
Entwined Strands. The "Industrial Revolution" evolved
out of the ancient capitalist practices of traders and craftsmen and their
city states after, and only after, they were able to secure reliable governmental
support for mass-produced enterprises by means of political and legal safeguards,
augmented by infrastructures and services that only the state can provide.
The empowerment of bourgeois forces which made this possible gave new meaning
to "democracy," an ideal that had flourished in some ancient
city states, and it gave ancient ethnocentric biases a new significance
when linked with citizenship.
What makes any democracy modern is its capacity to control a complex
hierarchy of public officials, i.e., a "bureaucracy." Bureaucracies
are ancient, and complex rules for managing great empires evolved several
thousand years ago, but the functions they had to perform in any agrarian
society where subsistence farming and animal culture prevailed, were quite
minimal. Classical democracies actually lacked bureaucracies because, as
small-scale agrarian states, they were not needed and volunteers or slaves
could perform the few public services that were needed. By contrast, in
modern large-scale industrial democracies, the state must assume responsibility
for a host of administrative tasks that are needed both to support industrialization
and, to mitigate its negative consequences.
What makes a democracy modern is, therefore, is its capacity to manage
a complex bureaucracy through representative institutions. Learning how
to replace kings as managers of increasingly complex bureaucratic institutions
became a requisite for industrialism to flourish simply because kings,
as personal rulers, could no longer manage these expensive and complex
institutions. Above all, perhaps, citizens had to be able and willing to
pay the taxes required to finance public administration in an industrialized
society. Their acceptance of these costs hinged on both their increased
income and their sense that government officials were, indeed, public "servants,"
responsive to their needs rather than their oppressors
As for "nationalism," in a basic sense it has been ubiquitous
everywhere and at all times insofar as communities experienced a "we"
versus "others" sense of identity. Civilizations like those of
Rome and China, to say nothing of smaller-scale societies like those of
the Hebrews, the Navaho and the Kwakiutl, felt that their communities and
cultures were superior to all others. A major qualitative change occurred
when this ancient and universal sense of in-group superiority was transmuted
into a philosophical myth for legitimizing the authority of a democratic
state. This myth enabled modern states to replace supernatural monarchic
authority with a secularized notion of popular sovereignty. The capacity
of industrialists to organize mass production and market their products
hinged on the availability of reliable and complex administrative institutions
that could never be managed effectively by traditional sovereigns relying
on sacred sources of authority -- their erratic and often arbitrary rule
made industrialization impossible. Ultimately, the success of the Industrial
Revolution hinged on widespread acceptance of the nation as a substitute
for monarchy as the basic source of political legitimacy for an industrializing
state. However, the only way to implement national sovereignty was through
representative institutions, the basic structure of modern democracy, a
design that would both assure public policies sensitive to bourgeois interests
and enable public administration to be more or less responsible and effective.
Secularism has so profoundly shaped our opinions about the sources of
sovereignty that we no longer empathize with the agonies faced by societies
whose belief in the sacredness of monarchic authority had to be jettisoned
in favor of the secular legal framework required to make industrial production
possible. Representative institutions offered a method for implementing
democratic governance, but they failed to answer the underlying question,
"why should ordinary people be the source of authority for the management
of a state"? Moreover, if sovereignty belonged to people, how could
one determine which people, where, ought to have that authority? It surely
required a great leap of faith for any bourgeoisie to entrust its fate
to a popular majority whose hostility to propertied people could easily
lead to confiscations and insecurity from below. Yet no bourgeoisie could
gain popular support for a form of governance in which only property-owners
would have the right to vote. The myth of a "nation" promised
to gain widespread support while excluding those most feared by the middle
class, and offering some likelihood that a "tyranny of the majority"
would not ensue. This myth permitted non-members of a nation to be excluded
from political rights, while enhancing the likelihood that property-owners
could determine the criteria for membership.
Modernity, combined these three ingredients into a new synthesis. Neither
industrialism, nor nationalism, nor democracy can be equated with modernity,
but after they are fused in a modern state we can identify them as the
necessary strands of a rope called "modern". Put differently,
modern industrialism is the form that industrialism takes in modern states;
nationalism becomes modern only when it legitimizes the existence of a
modern state, or the aspiration to create one; and modern democracy exists
only in states where representative institutions are able to control an
effective governmental bureaucracy equipped to handle the baffling problems
Many contemporary states are not modern insofar as they lack these three
basic elements -- or, rather, they may be classed as more or less modern
--perhaps "para-modern" -- depending on the extent to which they
embody them. This notion by no means implies any theory of "stages"
or the inevitability or even desirability of becoming modern. Rather, it
permits us to assess the benefits and costs of modernity in a multi-faceted
complex. Among these costs, the ones I shall focus on in the rest of this
essay concern the transformations of inter-cultural contacts and relations
that have generated the modern forms and problems and ethnicity.
The Main Forms of Modern Ethnicity
Among the assumptions that John Bowen (1996) attacks is the notion "that
ethnic diversity brings with it political instability and the likelihood
of violence." I fully agree with his claim that greater ethnic diversity
is not necessarily associated with violence. However, Bowen's assertion
presupposes an ahistorical context -- as though "ethnic diversity"
has always had the same structure, and it fails to distinguish between
three significantly different forms of modern ethnicity.
Pre-modern Ethnicity. In non-modern contexts, ethnic diversity
was ubiquitous and rarely became a focus for ethno-political movements,
though it was often, no doubt, a background factor in conflicts centering
on other issues. To explain why this was so, remember that in domains under
sacred forms of legitimation, diverse classes, castes, and ethnic communities
had their own recognized and widely accepted niches -- what Friedman, elsewhere
in this issue, refers to as ethnic hierarchy*. If slaves revolted,
it was because they were oppressed as slaves, not because of their ethnicity;
if rulers fought each other, it was for power and land, not because they
were culturally different. Indeed, sovereigns were often quite different
culturally from their subjects. Under pre-modern hierarchic forms of governance,
everyone but the sovereign was a subject and, although subjects differed
among themselves in their sense of fealty, they did not expect to be treated
as equals nor did they count on governments for survival -- rather, they
counted on nature and supernatural forces, including those influenced by
royal rituals, for their welfare and survival. . Citizenship, if it existed,
was a privilege rather than a right, and it scarcely provided the basis
for legitimizing the exercise of sovereignty by a state.
Modern Ethnicity. By contrast, the core feature of modern ethnicity
involves citizenship, i.e., the state (existing or demanded) with which
one can identify as a national. Modern ethnicity differs from traditional
forms of polyethnicity because of the obligations and privileges modern
statehood has created. The substitution of popular for royal sovereignty
made the link between nation and state a crucial factor in everyday life:
as noted above, it was not possible to legitimize democracy by claiming
that any set of humans who happened to live within an arbitrary set of
boundaries had the right to govern themselves by majority rule and representative
institutions. Rather, a kind of mythical, even "sacred," entity
called the nation became the basis for legitimacy. Moreover, as industrialization
advanced, citizens came to depend increasingly on services provided by
the state and to demand that political leaders should be sensitive to their
needs -- public policy and secularism replaced the reliance on natural
and supernatural forces that was typical of monarchic rule.
Although "equality" and "justice" became talisman
slogans in all modern states, their implicit premise has been that these
benefits belonged to members of their nation not to others -- to aliens
and outsiders. Passports symbolize this fact of modern life -- states admit
credentialed aliens as a reciprocal favor, but stateless persons without
such credentials are viewed with suspicion and treated like criminals.
Citizenship has, therefore, become significant for everyone, not just for
privileged persons -- it carried rights as well as duties, and without
it, statelessness easily turns into homelessness. Although multi-ethnic
states are commonplace, the prevalent mythology made membership in an ethnic
nation the requisite for citizenship, a claim that marginalized non-nationals
and supported their demands for separate statehood. Ideally, all citizens
belong to one nation, and non-members are expected to assimilate or leave
(voluntarily or by coercion).
Philosophically, the legitimacy of modern states and their right to make and enforce laws hinges on the existence of nations possessed of a sovereign right to choose and empower their rulers. No doubt this belief is more of a rationalization than a reality, more of a myth than a fact. Nevertheless, how else can we legitimize the exercise of state powers after the sacred authority of kings has been lost? Rulers who seize power and rely on brute force to maintain their rule may be obeyed, but out of fear, not loyalty -- with terror, not respect. Majority rule lacks face validity in any multi-national society -- why should permanent minorities accept the right of dominant nations to control their lives? Modern ethnicity rests on this foundation: members of every cultural community need to be identified with a nation in order to assure themselves the status and rights of citizenship. When they cannot accept or support the state under whose jurisdiction they happen to live, they become alienated and hunt for better options.
Industrialization also plays a fundamental part in this syndrome because
it imposes ever greater demands on governance. Both capitalism (as a motor
for the development of modern industries) and the complex problems generated
by mass production, modern technology, and associated scientific discoveries,
pose ever more costly and complex burdens on government. This means the
bureaucracies and the apparatus of public administration must expand in
parallel with industrialization -- and the resulting costs (especially
through taxation and increasingly burdensome regulations governing the
conduct of individuals and corporations) increasingly test the patriotism
and loyalty of citizens. Moreover, when governments fail to perform adequately
in an industrialized society, everyone suffers and resentments mount against
government -- including both bureaucrats and elected politicians.
Forms of Modern Ethnicity. In this context, citizenship imposes
great burdens and offers important rights -- good government has become
a necessity. By contrast, in pre-modern societies, the average subject
of any ruler could survive, even enjoy life, without worrying much about
who governed or how. Recognition of the vast changes wrought by modernity
in the status and prospects of all citizens (or subjects) of a state enables
us to understand the deep significance of three forms of modern ethnicity:
civic, national, and plural.
ethnicity primarily involves members of marginalized communities who
wish to become integrated as citizens of the country where they live, but
it also affects all nationals of a dominant community whose attitudes and
relationships with members of marginalized communities serious affect their
behavior and, reciprocally, their own comfort and well-being. The term,
diversity has come, increasingly, to represent a normal condition and
problematic for all the citizens and subjects in any modern state who see
themselves as members (or potential members) of a nation.
nationalism, by contrast, prevails among marginalized communities in
modern states who reject citizenship and demand sovereignty. They normally
have a territorial base or "homeland" which, in fact or fantasy,
can anchor the state they wish to establish by liberation of secession.
However, population mobility (intensified by industrialism) has led to
widespread mingling of peoples, not only in cities but also in rural areas,
seriously hampering efforts to carve independent states out of the enclaves
which ethnonational movements claim for themselves. I use ethnic cleavage*
to characterize the relationships between subjects and citizens (ethnic
nationalists and patriots) in such situations.
-- Ethnic plurality applies to situations in which citizenship is not available to the subjects of a modern state who also lack any historical or territorial basis for claiming sovereignty. Although this condition is widespread, especially in the successor states of the industrial empires, it has received little systematic attention. I use Furnivall's term, plural society, to characterize the contexts in which these tragic victims of modernity live. Since 'pluralism' is widely used for other concepts (including ethnic diversity and interest group democracy) I avoid using this word -- see the entry on pluralism*in the Glossary. Instead, we may speak of "plurality" or "pluralness" to characterize societies in which this third form of modern ethnicity prevails.
The term, diversity is often used broadly to refer to all three
forms of modern ethnicity, but this usage obscures the radically important
differences between them. In my own work, I use "diversity" to
refer only to relations involving civic ethnicity, where all communities
in a given state accept their status as citizens (or would-be citizens).
In fact, most of the literature on "diversity" actually deals
only with civic ethnicity so this practice normally is not confusing.
By contrast, when someone is thinking about all three ethnic categories,
it would be useful to use modern ethnicity as the generic term.
Under this heading, we can consider the extent to which non-violent or
amicable relations prevail between different ethnic communities as a variable
to be explained, not presupposed by definition: the expected profile of
inter-ethnic relations can vary greatly depending on which of the three
forms one is thinking about. Moreover, I avoid using ethnic to talk
about cultural communities in pre-modern societies, but that's only for
convenience -- since multi-culturalism has prevailed in all world-systems
and pre-modern states, in a broad sense they are always "multi-ethnic."
However, since ethnicity exists, by definition, only in multi-cultural
situations, the term strikes me as an oxymoron -- there cannot be any mono-ethnic
society, although of course isolated communities can be mono-cultural.
To say that there was "ethnicity" in pre-modern societies necessarily
implies they were multi-cultural. Let us now look more closely at each
of the three forms of modern ethnicity.
Civic Ethnicity. The most widely studied form of modern ethnicity
involves "ethnic diversity" -- as defined above. Sometimes, admittedly,
racial and ethnic prejudices lead to pogroms, genocide, and urban riots
directed against particular minorities. Such clashes do not involve nationalistic
claims for sovereignty, however. Moreover, modern democracies are often
able to overcome the prejudices and conflicts that generate these forms
of violence. For a good background analysis, see Inglis (1996). Violence
associated with ethnic diversity is, I believe, diminishing throughout
the world, although tensions and misunderstandings associated with ethnic
diversity will surely persist. A summary report on the status and problems
of ethnic minorities in the industrialized democracies can be found in
Actually, "diversity" often refers to inter-cultural relationships
in which conflicts are minimal or non-existent. Scottish immigrants to
the United States, for example, easily become well-integrated Americans
yet cherish ancestral traditions that they joyously celebrate on special
occasions -- in some contexts these communities are viewed as neo-ethnic*,
possessing only the vestiges of ethnic identity. However, when we extend
the notion of "ethnicity" to include dominant communities as
well as marginalized ones, we can see that any forms of cultural difference
between communities in a society may be classed as "ethnic,"
creating opportunities for the celebration of differences rather than displays
of hostility. When we recognize cultural differences among the citizens
of a state and members of a "nation" as normal and wonderful,
we can see ethnic diversity as an asset, not a liability.
Unfortunately, we have not yet progressed so far. Most members of less
fully acculturated communities in the United States -- like the Irish-Americans,
Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans or Polish-Americans -- are fully Americanized,
but no sharp lines can be drawn between those who retain or cultivate their
identifications with ancestral communities and others who view themselves
primarily as "Americans" while retaining a secondary interest
in their ethnic linkages.
Words like "eclecticism" or "cosmopolitanism" have
been used to discuss harmonious ethnic diversity. Most of the literature
on diversity, however, pays scant heed to eclecticism even when harmonious
integration is seen as the ultimate goal. Reports on Hawaii by Michael
Haas provide a good example of widespread ethnic harmony in diversity (Haas,
1996), but even in Hawaii many ethnic frictions remain and often attract
more attention than pervasively harmonious relations. Nevertheless, inter-ethnic
harmony among citizens of a nation state is commonplace and we need to
learn more about how to cultivate ethnic diversity based on non-violent
Some of these conditions are purely symbolic, such as the ethnonyms
used to identify communities (do they have positive or negative connotations)
and whether or not it is acceptable to make ethnic jokes -- making fun
of Polish-Americans was widely accepted until a Polish cardinal became
the Pope, after which it also became "politically incorrect"
to poke fun at this community. Far more important than these symbolic matters,
however, is the degree to which ethnics are able to achieve all the political,
economic, professional and cultural values that are attainable, in principle,
by all Americans.
Understanding that a sense of national identity may be necessary as
a basis for the legitimizing of democratic institutions, may we not also
celebrate the reality that ethnic identity offers s relief from the oppressive
sense of sameness that cultural homogeneity can generate. In pre-modern
societies, the average person was happily parochial -- the family, village,
and neighborhood, augmented by friendly ancestral spirits, provided a completely
satisfying framework for both personal and cultural identity. In the context
of globalization, however, the kinds of cultural homogenization that cosmopolitanism
and commercialization have generated in the modern world system, causes
many individuals to feel swamped and anomic -- they suffer from a loss
of identity and crave traditional moorings.
In this context, possessing an ethnic identity becomes a solution, not
a problem. One way to overcome the oppressive loss of identity generated
by commercialism, urbanization and media saturation is to emphasize ethnic
connections -- Americans who feel that they are "only Americans"
look to their roots to learn how they can distinguish themselves from other
Americans. An ethnonym can become not just a tag to mark one's origins
but, rather, a flag to celebrate one's distinctiveness, an icon to ornament
a t-shirt. Highly assimilated Americans, resisting the anomie of impersonality,
may glorify their own ethnic identity, transforming
neo-ethnic symbolic acts into more authentic and distinctive bases
for ethnic diversity by joining clubs, studying one's language and history,
performing dances, eating special foods, and visiting one's homeland. I
shall not say more here about ethnic diversity (whether in its contentious
or harmonious forms) because we need, I think, to focus on the other modern
forms of ethnic identity and conflict.
Ethnic Cleavages. The ruling minorities of the successor states
of industrial empires (the "third" and, now, the "second"
world) have become the targets of second-generation self-determination
movements -- of revolts designed to partition multi-national states and
reunite divided nations, giving their citizens the advantages they feel
deprived of in the states where they live. In fact, this mood has now become
global. Governments in many "first" world states now also, increasingly,
are hard pressed by movements among members of indigenous or national minorities
within their own boundaries. The distinctive feature of these movements
is the rejection by supporters of citizenship in the states where they
live, and by their support for sovereignty movements that assert their
right, as "nations," to govern themselves. Their concrete goals
range from demands for independence or the reunification of divided nations
to the acceptance of autonomy
(a nation within a nation) as an acceptable goal.
Such protests and revolts reflect and foster ethnic cleavages. The violence
created by these cleavages now generate torrents of refugees fleeing genocide
("ethnic-cleansing"). Some of them settle as marginalized immigrants
in a hostland where they become part of the pattern of ethnic diversity.
Looking back to their homelands,
however, they may also join externally driven movements to politicize and
reinforce ethnic revolts in the countries from which they fled. Increasingly,
members of ethnic diasporas are ambivalently torn between acceptance of
citizenship in countries to which they have migrated and activism in the
ethno-political movements of their original homelands. Since diasporas
profoundly affect all three forms of modern ethnicity, I have decided to
combine comments about them in a final section of this paper. Before turning
to this topic, therefore, let us consider more implications of ethnic cleavages
as a deeply disturbing aspect of modern ethnicity.
The efforts of ethnic nationalists to create a national
state in which all citizens share a common ethnicity often lead to
the violent repression of minorities -- when nationalism turns ugly, it
can produce fascism and "ethnic-cleansing" rather than efforts
to assimilate or integrate "outsiders." Individuals previously
content to be passive by-standers find themselves compelled to take sides
when ruling elites declare that "anyone who is not with us must be
against us." Civic ethnicity easily turns into ethnic nationalism
whenever a regime seeks to impose national unity on its ethnic minorities.
Although the two forms of modern ethnicity are quite different, individuals
often shift from one form to another -- or even maintain both orientations
simultaneously but in different contexts (countries).
Examples are so familiar and numerous that it seems unnecessary to discuss
them, but a few examples may be mentioned. Consider the Palestinian story:
under Ottoman and British rule, Arab and Jewish subjects coexisted with
little violence but the creation of Israel and the flight of Palestinians
led to intense confrontations that generated Palestinian nationalism and
the bitter struggle that continues today in that embattled land despite
its precarious "peace process." In Cyprus, violent clashes between
Greeks and Turks are an essentially modern phenomenon, following that island's
independence from British rule in 1960. No doubt inter-communal tensions
have long existed on that island, but they were accelerated by the armed
support and nationalistic rhetoric that came from Greece and Turkey, as
well as from Cypriot activists on both sides. As the internal partition
advanced, members of the Turkish minority concentrated on the northern
reaches of the island and were able, by 1975, to establish a de facto (but
still unrecognized) republic. Under the auspices of the United Nations
and the European Union, efforts are now being made to heal the breach by
some kind of federal arrangement that would permit Greek and Turkish Cypriots
to live together in a unified country.
There is no need to say more about such processes: they are now the
familiar stuff of innumerable press reports and television stories. They
have led to the creation of many self-determination movements among conquered
or displaced peoples seeking justice and economic opportunity as defined
by the modern norms of democracy and nationalism, reinforced by the increasingly
acute expectations and needs of industrialization. The failures of contemporary
governments to satisfy these demands is especially galling to subjects
when the rulers belong to an ethnic minority. The leaders of revolts and
protest movements often heighten current grievances and attract more supporters
by repeating stories of past glories and oppression as a basis for their
dreams of future progress and justice. Their aspirations for democracy,
industrial development and national independence attract followers and
whet the ambitions of leaders who expect to gain power and glory if their
movements succeed. Their ability to exploit such nationalistic slogans
and grievances has escalated under modern conditions -- they scarcely existed
in pre-modern societies.
How Violent? Clearly ethnic cleavages are more likely to lead
to violence than ethnic diversity. However, there are cases where non-violent
solutions have been found -- thus there may well be strategies that can
prevent or alleviate the violence so often provoked by ethnic cleavages.
Is it possible that these examples provide lessons that can be applied
in other cases?
The most conspicuous type of ethnic cleavage involves divided nations,
peoples separated from each other by international boundaries. Exceptionally,
a few have been re-united -- Germany is the best known example. However,
this may be explained by the collapse of the East German regime, not by
negotiation between the two principals. A few cases were negotiated as
a precondition for independence: Cameroon and Togo, for example. More dangerous
scenarios confront the divided Korean and Chinese peoples -- a wary condition
of "no peace, no war" prevails between them. Prospects for the
reunification of the Kurds and Pushtuns appear bleak -- each of the countries
in which their members live will strongly resist. The Somalis live in several
adjoining countries but their internal cleavages make the prospects for
unification bleak. The Basques and Azerbaijanis are divided by international
borders but seem not to be much interested in unification.
. The word, "enclave," is normally used to refer to communities
that seek unification with a motherland from which they have become separated
geographically, but it seems reasonable to use this term also for "nations"
seeking independence or autonomy. In some cases, especially where geographic
boundaries can be established, partition may be feasible, especially if
the government is democratic and responsive to the concerns of its citizens.
A leading example is that of former Czechoslovakia, but that case is exceptional
and closer analysis suggests that matters of constitutional design and
personal ambitions may have been more important than responsiveness to
Slovak public opinion However, Slovakia may be viewed as a model of enclave
nations seeking independence..
International recognition and policies clearly play an important role.
It helped the Baltic States establish their independence from the Soviet
Union, but the internal crisis in Moscow was no doubt more important and
it led, of course, to the establishment of many independent states in the
former republics of the collapsed Union, with or without movements for
partition. Similarly, the secession of Slovenia from Yugoslavia in 1991,
followed by that of Croatia and Bosnia/Herzegovina, was soon followed by
international recognition. The violence which followed arose from internal
ethnic struggles (augmented by external support from Belgrade for the Serbian
In some cases, de facto partitions have occurred without international
recognition of the separated nations: the establishment of the Republic
of Somaliland in 1991, and the recent creation of the "Republic of
China" on Taiwan resulted from internal political conflict and de-facto
independence since 1949 rather than ethnic differences -- a weak separatist
movement by natives of Taiwan appears to have little prospects for success
and popular support has declined as more and more of the islanders are
coopted into the Taipei regime. A Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was
declared in 1983, as noted above. After a prolonged and bloody struggle,
it remains unrecognized internationally although efforts to establish a
viable federation continue.
The independence of Eritrea came in 1992, but only after a bloody civil
war led to the collapse of the regime in Addis Ababa. Bangladesh gained
its independence from Pakistan after a bloody war and, of course, the initial
creation of Pakistan itself in 1947 involved the partition of India and
was accompanied by great violence. The struggle in Abkhazia for independence
from Georgia appears to have been settled by granting this region the status
of an "autonomous republic," and the movement, since 1994, for
Chechen independence from the Russian Federation has been especially bloody
-- although a cease-fire agreement has been reached, the political status
of Chechnya remains unclear. Resistance to the Myanmar (Burma) regime by
Karens, Shans and other ethnic communities appears to have been suppressed
by 1995, and the complex insurgency in the south of Sudan continues without
any prospects of resolution. There is no reason to believe that ethno-national
movements for independence have run their course -- more remain ahead as
smaller and less developed communities become mobilized and dissatisfaction
with existing governments and dominant minorities grows.
Autonomy. Administrative autonomy within the boundaries of an
existing state promises a better solution for many problems of ethnic cleavage
than secession and independence. The rulers of all existing states feel
threatened by border changes that reduce their resources, power and prestige.
This gives them an incentive to cooperate so as prevent them. Perhaps they
will also recognize that it may be possible to accommodate enclave nations
by granting them administrative autonomy, a solution that works best in
the industrialized democracies of Europe and the New World.
Some examples of non-violent solutions for ethnic cleavages illustrate
these possibilities. In 1980, the Catalans and Basques were granted autonomy
through the new Spanish parliamentary constitution under which 19 autonomous
regions are now recognized. Although some Basques continue to fight for
independence, Spain seems to have found a good accommodation with its Basque
and other national minorities. The bitter ethnic cleavage in Belgium led,
in 1993, to the establishment of self-governing regions for French-speaking
Wallonia and Dutch-speaking Flanders, with Brussels as a bi-lingual enclave
and capital serving also as a buffer zone. The most prolonged and bitter
ethnic cleavage in Europe persists in Northern Ireland but, even there,
earnest efforts are under way with support from all sides to arrive at
a non-violent resolution of this persistent problem.
Tensions between the Maori people and New Zealand continue, but also
in a non-violent way. Similarly, some "first nation" communities
in Canada enjoy treaty status and substantial autonomy -- an agreement
reached in 1992 created indigenous regions in the Northwest Territories
and a plan for self-government by the Inuit people in a self-governing
homeland to be established in 1999. The movement for Quebec's independence
remains an active though non-violent struggle, and a Party for an Independent
Newfoundland has recently emerged. In the United States, many indigenous
peoples have autonomy as self-governing nations though profound disagreements
about their status and prospects persist. In Hawaii, a struggle for sovereignty
on behalf of the Hawaiian people has escalated, but without violence.
Comprehensive information about ethno-political minorities now struggling
for independence or autonomy can be found in the data compiled by Ted Gurr
(1993). Almost all of the sustained violence and civil wars based on ethnic
nationalism are concentrated among these communities, i.e., where ethnic
cleavages can be found. As noted above, the existence of such cleavages
does not always generate violence. Perhaps, overall, there are more non-violent
than violent cleavages.
Nevertheless, all ethnic
cleavages can, potentially, lead to violence and civil wars. This form
of modern ethnicity in which the subjects of a state reject citizenship
and demand independence or autonomy creates political controversies that
are far more intractable than those caused by ethnic diversity. However,
when appropriate steps are taken to accommodate the needs and sense of
injustice that prevail among ethnic nations, violence can be prevented
and, perhaps, both economic development and generous public policies can
lead their members, increasingly, to accept citizenship or autonomy within
their host-states as preferable to a continuing struggle for independence.
A third form of modern ethnicity involves communities whose members
are denied the opportunity to become citizens yet lack any territorial
basis for a movement demanding self-determination. Members of these communities
are easily torn between contradictory alternatives: to support a class-based
revolutionary movement, or to seek protection for their property and special
interests by making concessions to the regime in power. The Chinese community
in Malaysia offers a classic model of this dilemma. When the immigrants
are numerous enough, they may gain power, as happened in Guyana, and when
they are too weak, they may be expelled as were the Indians in Uganda.
These situations of ethnic plurality are clearly modern and have
scarcely been adequately recognized in the literature, but we must postpone
any discussion of their problems. They need to be examined but lack of
space precludes such analysis here -- for more comments see the entry on
pluralism* in the Glossary.
All three forms of modern ethnicity are linked to diaspora communities, both as causes and consequences. Virtually every ethnic nation contains not only a core of people living in the territory they think of as their homeland, but also others who have migrated, sometimes as refugees but often as emigrants, seeking better opportunities elsewhere. Members of such diasporas* often choose to integrate in their hostlands, becoming citizens and even assimilated nationals. Diaspora reflect migrations, a topic discussed at some length in the paper by Tehranian, in this issue. After migrants settle they create or join diasporas whose number has escalated as a result of modernity although, of course, they have existed in all world-systems. Here I will say a bit about their presence and consequences for modern ethnicity.
Predictably, migrants do not forget their homelands and the relatives
and friends they have left behind (their anasporas*) -- they often
send them financial contributions ("remittances") and become
active in political movements designed to make fundamental changes back
home. Sometimes they support revolutionary or secessionist movements or,
alternatively, they uphold established governments resisting such movements.
The best known diaspora is that of the Jewish people, and the creation
of Israel in response to the tragic experiences of Jews in many countries
is notable as a case in which a diaspora created a state. Both Jewish and
Palestinian residents in foreign countries are, today, active supporters
of the protagonists in Palestine. Much of the literature on refugees views
them as subjects of compassion and humanitarian assistance and as victims
of persecution or natural disasters. Here I want to focus on the socio-political
role and activities of migrant communities as actors or subjects, not as
the objects of attention by outsiders.
Under normal conditions, diasporans -- the term I use for members
of a diaspora -- are grateful for the hospitality of their new neighbors
in a hostland. However, when they are badly treated, especially when they
experience nationalistic resistance to aliens as manifested in acts of
ethnophobic violence, diasporans often respond by organizing support for
ethnonationalist movements in their original homelands. Hopes for a return
may inspire their activism. Indeed, migrants can become transmission belts:
facing nationalistic exclusiveness and racism in their hostlands, they
become ethnic nationalists in their homelands. Increasingly, mobility is
accelerated by the new means of transportation produced by industrialization,
and persecuted migrants (refugees) feel inspired to become active in movements
that may make it possible for them to return home, a process that is far
easier now than it ever was in pre-modern times.
Even members of a diaspora who integrate themselves into the daily life
of their new hostlands may remain (or become) active in the nationalist
movements of their homelands. No doubt diasporans are normally grateful
for the hospitality they find in their hostlands, but in some circumstances,
reciprocal interactions occur which link homeland and hostland problems.
When, for example, the government of a hostland supports their homeland
enemies, diasporans may well project their hostility to the new environment
in which they have settled. They may also identify themselves with passionate
movements embraced by fellow diasporans living in other countries. Those
who are surviving precariously as refugees in a limbo-land are most vulnerable
to such tensions and ethnonational movements. Sometimes diaspora activism
can leads to a frenzy of genocidal attacks and terrorism -- as we have
seen most recently in Bosnia and Rwanda where diaspora movements have spearheaded
inter-ethnic encounters in their original homelands. "Ethnic cleansing"
became genocide in the hands of Serb militants, and, as Bowen points out,
the new Croatian regime "moved quickly to define Serbs as second-class
citizens, fired Serbs from the police and military, and placed the red-and-white
'checkerboard' of the Nazi-era Ustashe flag in the new Croatian banner"
(p.9). In the modern world, indeed, it is exceptional for ethnic cleavages
to remain insulated within any one country -- domestic turmoil is generated
by a world system in which members of diaspora communities scattered around
the world become activists in their original homelands.
Communities of migrants may also experience a diaspora in reverse: this
happens when an . original homeland reaches out to support or exploit their
nationals abroad. They may be disappointed because such support fails to
materialize, or they may be exploited by states who view their expatriates
as pawns to be manipulated. Thus Indians in Fiji or Chinese in Indonesia
who turn to India or China for help when they experience problems in their
hostland may well be disappointed. Some regimes are eager to manage remittances
from their overseas citizens and view them as a financial resource.
Possible ambiguities in the use of "diaspora" compel the addition
of a terminological note. In its original sense, usually capitalized, "Diaspora"
refers only to the Jewish diaspora. At the other extreme, "diaspora"
is sometimes used to refer to any minority, e.g., the "Jews"
or the "Hungarians" in America". I avoid both of these meanings
of "diaspora." Here I use it to refer only to communities whose
members have left their homeland and are living elsewhere, usually in many
different countries. The term does refer to an ethnic minority, but always
in the context of its relations with an original homeland.
Members of a diaspora are involved in all three forms of modern ethnicity:
diversity, cleavages, and plurality. The most visible, however, involves
cleavages. Consider some examples. The Tibetan national movement is exceptional
insofar as these refugees, despite great suffering, have accepted a non-violent
strategy and become effectively organized. Perhaps this is due to the non-violent
philosophy of their leader, the Dalai Lama, or the pacifist orientation
of Tibetan Buddhism. More typically, diaspora peoples are divided into
competing groups with clashing goals -- Iranians outside of Iran today
provide a good example, starting with the movement led by the Ayatollah
Khamenei, in exile, and continuing now with assorted opponents of the Islamic
Republic. Armenians in diaspora are torn between supporters of the Armenian
Republic and those who yearn to restore their country at Turkey's expense,
as well as by religious cleavages. Virtually every country in which ethnonational
conflicts prevail has diaspora communities who are actively involved in
Diaspora communities, however, lack institutional structures to maintain
coordinated action among their members. They typically produce rival factions
whose internal conflicts hamper their impact. In this respect, their situation
is typical for virtually ethnic communities whose members cannot reach
consensus about what they would like to do or achieve. Moreover, because
diasporas are international or even global in scale, groups of emigres
in one country may or may not cooperate with fellow emigres in other countries
-- barriers of space and politics hamper trans-state coordination among
members of each global diaspora community.
In order to talk clearly about these phenomena, we need to distinguish
between each ethnic
nation as a whole, and its main components: i.e., the members of its
diaspora and those who remain home. Unfortunately, 'diaspora' lacks an
antonym, but we could easily coin a neologism, like anaspora
to refer to members of any ethnic nation who are not in diaspora -- they
are the people who remain at home. The stem for 'diaspora' is 'speirein'
meaning to scatter, and the prefix, 'dia' means apart. The suffix
an- or ana- means "not" as in 'anachronism,' 'analogy,'
'anonymous,' or 'anomaly'. We may therefore think of those who have not
scattered from home as being in anaspora. The use of this novel term would
help us compare the position and attitudes of the home people (anaspora)
and those who have left home (diaspora) -- contrasting those who have not
dispersed with those who have dispersed.
In a few cases, communities in diaspora lack an anaspora -- the Romani
(Gypsy) groups are perhaps the most familiar example and, exceptionally,
they do not make ethnonational demands -- rather, they normally ask only
to be treated better in the many lands where they live and travel. The
settled migrants produced by imperialism -- creating ethnic pluralness
-- face a somewhat similar situation. Normally, when they are persecuted,
they cannot or will not return to the "homeland" from which they
came, and they lack any new domain to claim as their own. They are, literally,
in limbo and cannot identify with either a diaspora or an anaspora.
States experiencing internal conflicts typically seek to influence the
members of their own diasporas. They may also use them as a pretext to
justify interventions in foreign countries. The role of diasporas in international
politics is stunningly important, I believe, yet it has received very little
attention. Exceptionally, Ryan's book on ethnic conflicts in international
relations points out that "States that have close affective links
with ethnic groups in another state will often not remain indifferent to
the fate of these groups" (Ryan 1990: p.35). Ryan's book, however,
only tells half the story: it focuses on efforts by nation states to support
their own nationals in other countries, but we also need to consider efforts
by diasporas to influence the foreign policies of the states in which they
live. Moreover, ethnic nationalism often originates outside a home territory,
among members of its diaspora who feel obligations and see opportunities
that can result from their nationalistic activism.
The extent to which members of a diaspora involve themselves in the
politics of their homelands is influenced, no doubt, by the attitude of
their hostland neighbors who may help them integrate, or repel them by
prejudice and discrimination. Diasporans who become citizens in their hostlands
-- or wish to become citizens -- constitute an important element in the
modern pattern of civic ethnicity (ethnic diversity). The more fully they
become assimilated in these hostlands, the less likely they are to become
activists in their original homelands. However, even well adjusted and
successful immigrants sometimes choose to become active in the politics
of their homelands. Needless to say, ethnic plurality is also affected
by diasporas, but their members may be exceptional in the degree to which
they are indifferent to the problems of their original homelands and do
not view them as an object of loyalty or contention.
We need, finally, to pay more attention to persons who integrate as
citizens in the country to which they have immigrated while also remaining
active in the ethnic politics of their homeland. This janus-like pattern
of dual (or multiple) ethnic identity is increasingly common, I think,
and needs to be recognized as an aspect of modern ethnicity that will grow
as the number of refugees and migrants stimulated by the evolution of our
modern world system increases. This phenomenon overlaps cosmopolitanism,
a product of the mobility of intellectuals, artists, business men and international
bureaucrats whose constant movement from country to country erodes their
sense of belonging in any place -- they would much rather be "world
citizens," by contrast with the ethnic nationals who profess a strong
attachment to one locality. These processes have increased the pressure
for dual citizenship, a practice that permits individuals to live and work,
to invest and fight, in more than one country. The old expectation that
one should be a citizen of only one country (at a time) is losing force
as members of diaspora communities and cosmopolitans become cross-pressured
by poly-national controversies and global interests. Paradoxically, however,
they may also show signs of glocalization, a type of ambivalence
manifested by travelers who can easily switch their personal identity from
that of a cosmopolitan to that of a parochial, and they may be either passive
or activists in either context. These new options seem to be widespread
in all the forms of modern ethnicity.
The migration of peoples around the world is surely increasing as a
continuing result of all three aspects of modernity: industrialization,
democracy and nationalism. This means that the number of ethnic minorities
in almost every country of the world will also increase, as will the size
and activism of diasporas. In addition to all the domestic problems created
by this process, students of ethnicity need to examine the role played
by diaspora peoples in the rise and progress of modern ethnicity as a global
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FRED W. RIGGS, Political Science Department, University of Hawaii, 2424 Maile Way, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, U.S.A.
Phone: (808) 956-8123 Fax: (808) 956-6877 e-mail: FREDR@HAWAII.EDU
Web Page: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~fredr/
See linked pages:  Preface || Friedman || Hall || Bigo || Teune || glossary