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Ethnic Futures: The State and Identity Politics in Asia

Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka (Author)
Synopsis Confrontational identity politics and mobilization are today tearing apart historically multicultural polities across the world. Against this wider background, this book provides insights into the nature and dimensions of the confrontation between ethnic minorities and majorities in Nepal, Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia. Locating the roots of identity-based conflicts in the processes of post-colonial nation-building, the authors examine the often contradictory efforts of states to create homogeneous nations out of diversity through measures such as economic and political reforms, decentralization and local autonomy, and quota reservations. They also discuss the reactions of minority communities to the state's integrationist endeavours. Conflicts over issues such as the unequal allocation and use of natural resources, discrepancies in the political and bureaucratic spheres, problems of cultural identification and variations in employment opportunities are shown to be common to all four countries but uniquely emphasized in each. An important feature of the book is that it explores the interaction between global discourses on identity and their local resonances. While commonalities exist across countries, the contributors highlight the historically contingent configurations prevailing in each case: the play of identity discourses in the Sinhala-Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka; the history of ethnic accommodation in Nepal from the late 18th century to the recent democratization; the questionable basis of the secularist model adopted in India as a means of accommodating difference; and the issue of resource competition in negotiations within the Malaysian polity. With the nation-state remaining an embattled concept even after decades of nation-building, the key to future coexistence, argue the contributors to this book, might lie in the region's centuries old but suppressed history of inclusive cosmopolitanism and hybrid traditions. This insightful volume will interest those involved in ethnic studies, history, political science, sociology, conflict studies, peace studies, migration, international relations and human rights.
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Bibliographic information

Title Ethnic Futures: The State and Identity Politics in Asia
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1999
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8170368278
length 209p., Illustrations; Maps; 23cm.