Thursday, September 30, 2021

Explain Ethnicity the reasons of ethnic wars


Explain Ethnicity the reasons of ethnic wars

Ethnic conflict, a form of conflict in which the objectives of at least one party are defined in ethnic terms, and the conflict, its antecedents, and possible solutions are perceived along ethnic lines. The conflict is usually not about ethnic differences themselves but over political, economic, social, cultural, or territorial matters. Ethnic conflict is one of the major threats to international peace and security. Conflicts in the Balkans, Rwanda, Chechnya, Iraq, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Darfur, as well as in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, are among the best-known and deadliest examples from the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The destabilization of provinces, states, and, in some cases, even whole regions is a common consequence of ethnic violence. Ethnic conflicts are often accompanied by gross human rights violations, such as genocide and crimes against humanity, and by economic decline, state failure, environmental problems, and refugee flows. Violent ethnic conflict leads to tremendous human suffering.

Ethnic identity, ethnicity, and ethnic group

The terms ethnic and ethnicity have their roots in the Greek word ethnos, which describes a community of common descent. In ethnic conflict research, the terms ethnic group, communal group, ethnic community, people, and minority are mostly used interchangeably. Two elements provide the basis to identify ethnic groups: first, the accentuation of cultural traits and, second, the sense that those traits distinguish the group from the members of the society who do not share the differentiating characteristics. Anthony D. Smith, a scholar of ethnicity and nationalism studies, identified ethnic criteria that provide the origins of communal identity. Those include shared historical experiences and memories, myths of common descent, a common culture and ethnicity, and a link with a historic territory or a homeland, which the group may or may not currently inhabit. Elements of common culture include language, religion, laws, customs, institutions, dress, music, crafts, architecture, and even food. Ethnic communities show signs of solidarity and self-awareness, which are often expressed by the name the group gives itself.

Ethnic identity is formed by both tangible and intangible characteristics. Tangible characteristics, such as shared culture or common visible physical traits, are important because they contribute to the group’s feeling of identity, solidarity, and uniqueness. As a result, the group considers perceived and real threats to its tangible characteristics as risks to its identity. If the group takes steps to confront the threats, its ethnicity becomes politicized, and the group becomes a political actor by virtue of its shared identity. On the other side, ethnicity is just as much based on intangible factors—namely, on what people believe, or are made to believe, to create a sense of solidarity among members of a particular ethnic group and to exclude those who are not members.

Explain Ethnicity the reasons of ethnic wars

Theories of ethnic identity

Although communal identity provides the foundation for the definition of ethnic groups, disagreement exists over how ethnic identity forms and how it changes over time. A first school of thought, known as the primordialist approach, explains ethnicity as a fixed characteristic of individuals and communities. According to primordialists, ethnicity is embedded in inherited biological attributes, a long history of practicing cultural differences, or both. Ethnic identity is seen as unique in intensity and durability and as an existential factor defining individual self-identification and communal distinctiveness. Mobilization of ethnic identity and ethnic nationalism is a powerful tool to engage the group in a political struggle. Ethnic divisions and ethnic conflict are considered inherent to multiethnic societies and a common phenomenon.

The primordialist focus on fixed identities, however, fails to recognize variations in ethnic group formation, ranging from relatively short-term associations to long-standing, strong, and cohesive groups with biological and historical roots. To account for these differences, a second approach, referred to as instrumentalist, was developed, which understands ethnicity as a device used by individuals and groups to unify, organize, and mobilize populations to achieve larger goals. Those goals are mostly of a political nature and include, among others, demands for self-governance, autonomy, access to resources and power, respect for the group’s identity and culture, and minority rights. Instrumentalists hold that ethnicity has very little or no independent ranking outside the political process and is in its character comparable to other political affiliations such as ideological beliefs or party membership. According to instrumentalists, ethnicity is a result of personal choice and mostly independent from the situational context or the presence of cultural and biological traits. Ethnic conflict arises if ethnic groups compete for the same goal—notably power, access to resources, or territory. The interests of a society’s elite class play an important role in mobilizing ethnic groups to engage in ethnic conflicts. Ethnic conflict is thus similar to other political interest conflicts.

Previous Question                          Next Question