Thursday, 3 December 2009

On the Theory of Ethnic Conflict

In many countries and many periods a person’s ethnic identity has profound consequences for his or her physical safety, political status, and economic prospects. Violent confrontation along ethnic lines is the most apparent form of ethnic conflict, and recently has claimed lives in such diverse places as the Balkans, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Indonesia, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, and several other countries. Less news-making, but even more widespread, is nonviolent ethnic conflict, whereby ethnic cleavages form the basis for political competition and/or economic exploitation. In Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Belgium, and countless other countries rent seeking on behalf of one’s ethnic group crowds out productive activities, and the threat of violence discourages investments in human and physical capital
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