Harry V. Herman, Ph.D.

Ethnicity

Structure

Symbolism

References

Model

Canada and FY

Societies

THE PRINCIPAL CAUSE OF EVERY ETHNIC CONFLICT IS A COMPETITION FOR THE CONTROL OF STATUS REWARDS, RESOURCES AND TERRITORY

This web page is the result of my interest in the conflict arising from ethnic differentiation. It incorporates some ideas from my previous papers (1979 and 1988), with some new ideas and new developments, as well as reflecting criticism and rethinking of my previous work. While presenting a model that can be used for predicting inter-ethnic conflict in various parts of the world, it can also be used as a practical tool for the resolution of such conflicts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are still in the process of fragmentation of aggregates of separate groups held together by a gravitational force of one dominant group or a coalition of groups, which were at the center. The old European Colonial powers such as England, France, Portugal, Spain, the Ottoman, Hapsburg and Romanov empires have all fragmented and in their wake left other clusters which continue to fragment. All this happened because the groups in domination position could no longer sustain their power and the groups in the subordination position would no longer submit.

This process so well described by Harold R. Isaacs, results in the surfacing of old and new nationalism's and separatism's, all of them striving for regional, cultural, linguistic and political autonomy, all of them demanding recognition as separate and distinct nations. This striving for self-esteem and self-respect brings them in conflict with dominant groups which eventually could lead to separation.

Almost every ethnically diversified society in the world has experienced, at one time or another, in one form or another, inter-ethnic conflict. While the violent forms of conflict, such as hijacking, hostage taking, bombing, guerrilla wars and civil wars are frequent today; the potential for violent inter-ethnic conflict is even greater, threatening to involve neighboring nations. Almost every multi-ethnic society is a potential source for such conflict, and there are numerous situations that can trigger it.

Human diversity, it seems, is here to stay. All attempts so far to homogenize various collectivities has failed. Even the great religious movements like Christianity and Islam or the Communist movement, have not been able to eradicate differentiation and tribalism. This human diversity may just be a mechanism for the survival of the human species and if so, it should be preserved. It should not, however, be a source of conflict or lead to the destruction of the species. Perhaps true globalization will take place only when all expressions of ethnic individualities are given full autonomy.

This however, will not take place as long as the world community clings to the old paradigm of non-interference in domestic affairs of internationally recognised states. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is meaningless as long as the old paradigm is in effect. We need a new paradigm, a new way of resolving ethnic conflicts. Czechoslovakia, for example, and the way it resolved dispute between the Czechs and Slovaks has shown the way in this direction. England too, in its handling of the Scottish situation has moved in the right direction in resolution of ethnic conflicts. Many human lives could have been saved and much destruction avoided had the countries like Sri Lanka, Turkey, Sudan, Israel, Russia and Former Yugoslavia, to name just a few, resorted to similar method of resolving their conflicts.

This web page is an attempt to create a scale model that will add another dimension in better understanding the latent, and manifest, inter-ethnic conflict.

"The method of our time is to use not a single but multiple models for exploration" (McLuhan, 1967:69)

To achieve this it is divided into four parts:

The (1) first part explores the nature and main characteristics of ethnicity and/or ethnic identity, focusing on the political and manipulative aspect of this category.

The (2) second examines the structural arrangements of various ethnic aggregates or collectivities in the ethnically diversified societies, distinguishing and examining the situation of ethnic segmentation and ethnic heterogeneity.

The (3) third part explores the cultural-symbolic aspects of inter ethnic societies, while in the (4) fourth, a scale model of inter-ethnic conflict is introduced, allowing for examination of the degree of the intensity and violence of such conflict. The model also provides clear indications of conditions under which intensity of the inter-ethnic conflict increases or decreases, and also which conditions can lead to the violence within such conflict.

Finally an abbreviated and comparative analysis of the inter-ethnic conflict in Canada and former Yugoslavia is given, applying the model.

 Ethnicity

Structure

Symbolism

References

Model

Canada and FY

Societies

  Feedback

mailto:harryvh@sympatico.ca

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Since 24 February, 1999