Dominant
Ethnicity
Majority Groups, Dominant
Minorities and Conflict
Eric Kaufmann
Birkbeck College,
University of London
Omission in Current
Literature




Nation and dominant ethnie conflated
in popular mind and in the scholarly
literature (i.e. French in France;
Japanese in Japan)
Parochialism (ethnic as 'other' in US
literature); homogeneous states in
Europe occlude ethnie-nation link
nationalism, citizenship, migration,
ethnic studies, political theory equate
ethnic = minority (i.e. MAR)
Dominant group is not background, but
an active sub-national player
The View from MAR:
UK, France, USA



Are there no English in
Britain? No French in
France? No Whites in the
USA?
Is there not something
different about N.I.
Catholics and U.K.
Muslims?
What of Corsicans in
Corsica vs on mainland?
Problem of Ontological Dominance
Primary v Secondary Groups. Does
group consider itself indigenous? I.e.
the ontologically dominant group
 Gurr & Harff (1994) – German Turks
and Malay Chinese (secondary) are
considered alongside Kurds and
Miskito Indians (primary) to form
model

Dominant Ethnicity




Ethnic group (primary/secondary) vs
nation
Schermerhorn 1970 - 'dominant
majority', 'dominant minority'
Smith 1986 - 'core ethnie'. 1991 'dominant ethnie.'
Other terms: 'staatsvolk', 'host society',
'charter group', 'herrenvolk democracy',
etc.
Dominant Minority Ethnicity



Obvious in the multi-ethnic empires
(Rome, Ottoman, Habsburg, later British,
French, Dutch empires)
Can also think of ethnic states as having
dominant minorities since peasantry had
localised identity (i.e. medieval/early
modern France, Scotland, Spain, Sweden,
Hungary, Poland)
Ethnically-conscious elite, masses speak
range of languages or dialects
From Dominant Minorities
to Dominant Majorities




Rise of the NationState elevates
dominant majority
Ethnic exclusion
(Wimmer 2002)
Democratisation
replaces dynastic
legitimacy
Secession from
empire and
multiethnic states
Dominant Minorities in
Modern States



Colonisers favour certain minorities (i.e.
Tutsi, Sunni, Maronite, white settler)
Postcolonial power structure
Authoritarian regimes:



Control Military and elite
Strong security apparatus (ie Mukhabarat)
Legitimising 'civic' nationalist ideology
Dominant Minority Ethnicity
and National Identity




Wider national identity,
despite narrow ethnic
power base
Pan-Arabism and
socialism (Syria, Iraq,
Jordan)
Pan-Africanism and
socialism (Ghana,
Tanzania)
Islamism (Iran, Taliban
Afghanistan)
Second Delegitimisation of
Dominant Minorities




Suffer From new 'Third Wave' of
democratisation post-1989
End of Cold War removes socialism as
missionary ideology of the nation; also panAfricanism, pan-Arabism - though Islamism
strengthens
Minorities deposed (i.e. Americo-Liberians,
Afrikaners, Rhodesians, Tutsi in Burundi,
Serbs in Kosovo)
Or lose status (i.e. Anglos in Quebec after
1960, English in Scotland, Spanish in
Catalonia, Maronites in Lebanon)
Iraq: From Dominant Minority to
Dominant Majority
Still a Few Dominant
Minorities Today

Alawi in Syria, Sunni in Bahrain,
Tutsi in Rwanda, Gulf Arabs in
Kuwait/UAE – authoritarianism,
gerrymandering, exclusive
citizenship. Under pressure.
Li
b
Le eria
C ban
ôt
e on
d
In 'Ivo
do ir
ne
s
G ia
ab
on
Ir a
N n
ig
e
G ria
am
C bia
a
Ve na
ne da
zu
M el a
N or
ew o
c
Ze co
al
a
C nd
ro
a
Tu tia
r
Au key
Vi
et stra
na li
m a
,S
Fr oc
an
ce
C
hi
le
Eg
yp
t
H
N aiti
or
Po way
r tu
ga
l
% Largest Group
Largest Ethnic Group (%), 151 Countries, 1998
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Source: Vanhanen 1999
The Shadowy Nature of
Dominant Ethnicity


Must look not only at state elites, but at
the often informal structures of
dominant ethnicity
USA, until 1960s: WASPs 80-90% of
top economic, government, military
positions, despite just 30-40 pc of total




Restrictive Immigration Laws
Rural-urban malapportionment
Covert discrimination against Catholics,
Jews; overt v. nonwhites
Blacks disenfranchised in South through
literacy tests, poll taxes
Dominant Ethnic Violence






Can be linked to
demographic change
Serbian aggression in
Bosnia and Kosovo,
1992-4, 1999
Coup in Fiji, 2000
Thailand, Oct. 2004
violence
India: Mumbai 19923, Gujarat 2002,
Assam 1980s
Cote D'Ivoire, 2002
Theorising Dominant Ethnic
Violence

Dominant ethnic outbidding by hardliners.
Checks moderation (Horowitz)




Paisley in NI
United Iraqi Alliance under pressure from Shia
grassroots for revenge against Sunnis
BJP/RSS v Congress in India
Estonian nationalist party gains after Bronze
soldier riot of April 2007
Dominant Ethnicity and
Secessionist Violence


Not just minorities v state
Dominant ethnie often backs state v. minorities,
stoking grievances:





Ulster-Protestants call for no concessions and
crackdown on Catholics, 1966-72
Sinhala-Only movement drove Tamils to revolt
Popularity of Chechen war among ethnic Russians, not
just the state
Role of diaspora (i.e. India; Croatia; Israel, Serbia)
Key Q: Does state act in national interest or
dominant ethnic interest?
2 Species of Ethnic Violence
Nazis vs Basques
 Type I: Separatist Violence
 Type II: Dominant Ethnic Violence –
sparked by rising numbers, power of
minorities OR fabricated hysteria
(sometimes genocidal)
 A relationship, but analytically
distinct

Puzzle: Why are violent minorities
so often regional?
*Note that 519 MAR groups (61%) have a base, 333
groups (39%) do not.
..And Why Don’t Immigrants Rebel?

“Once state level variables
are included in MAR
specifications, the only
group-level variables that
consistently come out as
significant predictors of
civil war onsets are those
associated with the
geographical concentration
of the group population
and its dispersion over a
regional base.”-F&L 2009
Average rebel score
(number of observations)
YES
NO
Has the Group Been in the
Country Since 1800?
2.9
(n=248)
1.0
(n=50)
Does the Group have a
Regional Base?
2.9
(n=276)
1.1
(n=123)
For Groups with a
Regional Base, Has the
Group Faced Competition
for Vacant Land in the
1980s?
3.3
(n=34)
2.3
(n=203)
Varieties of Dominant
Ethnicity
Majorities or minorities
 Dominance of state or sub-state
nation
 Economic, Political, Cultural,
Demographic, Ontological
 Indigenousness (Smith; Horowitz)
and power (Schermerhorn, Doane)
 S. Caribbean cases demonstrate

Ontological dominance is necessary,
even if not sufficient





Immigrant groups are not primary ethnic groups, do
not occupy ‘homeland’
Primary ethnic groups have a concept of sacralized
homeland, and, if ‘awakened’ by nationalism, seek
to render ethnic homeland and politics congruent,
i.e. to be the dominant ethnic group in ‘their’
homeland
Some rebellious groups have lost their home base
but still seek it (i.e. almost all nonterritorial rebels
are indigenous peoples, not aggrieved migrant
groups)
Almost no cases of purely grievance-based or
opportunistic rebellions
If a foreign invader came, who would be most likely
to resist? Trading minority or ‘Indigenous’ group
Dominant Ethnicity in the
West

West: Norms of Cultural liberalism/ Universal
personhood and Civic Nationalism, leading
to:





Anti-Immigrant violence
Rise of Far Right
'White Flight'
Dominant majorities shrinking – will they
become dominant minorities?
Unlikely: assimilation seems to have widened
ethnic boundaries (ie US whites, Mestizos in
Latin America)
Normative Questions
Dominant majority ethnicity
necessary for stable power sharing
systems? (O' Leary 2001)
 Is the ethnicity of a dominant group
worth consideration/preservation?
 Can we have a liberal form of
dominant ethnicity? (i.e. a liberal
'national ethnicity')

http://www.kpdata.com/epk/index.html
http://www.politicsarena.co.uk/politicsarena/books/pol_books.htm
Data Sets

Country/year




6,327 observations from 1945-99, with all
countries >500,000 population
Onset as dependent variable
127 onsets
Group country (Minorities at Risk)



357 groups (Kurds/Iraq; Kurds/Iran;
Kurds/Turkey are three distinct observations)
Rebellion as dependent variable (8-point
ordinal scale from none reported to protracted
civil war)
Since 1945, 198 groups never had >0; 127
groups had >3 (our criteria for a civil war
rebellion).
Conclusions from Country/Year
Dataset

What differentiates countries that have suffered from civil
wars from those that have not?
 States
that signal weakness
[low GDP; new state; changed
institutions; oil]

What can we learn from correlations about the causes of
civil wars?
 No
support for Clash of
Civilizations or Level of
Grievances
Geographical Concentration

Once state level variables
are included in MAR
specifications, the only
group-level variables that
consistently come out as
significant predictors of
civil war onsets are those
associated with the
geographical
concentration of the
group population and
its dispersion over a
regional base.
Average rebel score
(number of observations)
YES
NO
Has the Group Been in the
Country Since 1800?
2.9
(n=248)
1.0
(n=50)
Does the Group have a
Regional Base?
2.9
(n=276)
1.1
(n=123)
For Groups with a
Regional Base, Has the
Group Faced Competition
for Vacant Land in the
1980s?
3.3
(n=34)
2.3
(n=203)
Sons-of-the-Soil and Civil War
Onsets



When facing government supported
internal migration that threatens their
regional predominance, we call groups
that have a regional base “sons of the
soil”.
Sixteen of 127 civil wars have been
motivated, at least in part, by sons of soil
insurgents, and these tend to be the
longest by a factor of 5.
This paper seeks to explain the causes of
these wars, in a way that is consistent
with our general findings about civil war
Sons-of-Soil Wars










Chakma peoples in the Chitttagong Hills of
Bangladesh,
Nagas and other “tribals” in Northeast India,
Moros in the Philippines,
Tamils in the North and East in Sri Lanka,
Uighurs in Xinjiang province, and Tibetans in
China,
Mons and Karens in Burma,
Sindhis against the Mohajirs around Karachi in
Pakistan,
Bougainvilleans in Papua New Guinea,
West Papuans and Achenese in Indonesia,
Tuaregs in Mali.
What Explains Sons-of-Soil
Wars?

(1) Territorial Imperative – a branch of a clash of
civilization argument



Can’t explain failure of most tribals to mount a civil war
in the face of settlement by dominant group (Bushmen;
Native Americans; Chota Nagpur)
(2) Most sons-of-soil wars are in Asia, where
population density is greatest of all regions,
suggesting that the origins of the conflict
concern scarce land – favoring a grievance story.
(3) Regional concentration as a form of “rough
terrain” – a branch of the conditions that favor
insurgency argument
…and Power




What about dominant minorities in a
state?
Aspects of dominance: demographic,
cultural, economic, political
What about locally-dominant minorities
(i.e. pur laine Quebecois and Scots
Protestants but not Tibetans)
Do they dominate home region? On which
aspects?
Why ‘Sons-of-Soil’ Wars?




High Asian population density. Resource
conflict
Regional concentration linked to ‘rough
terrain’. Tactical advantage
Territorial Imperative can’t explain cases
of inaction by tribals (Bushmen; Native
Americans; Chota Nagpur)
Yes – but why don’t immigrants rebel?
Descargar

Dominant Ethnicity