Ethnopolitics Papers | Volume 6 (2016)By Jelena Loncar on 25 April 2016
Ethnopolitics Paper No. 42
Extremism and Ethnicity – Reloaded: The Cases of Iraq and Syria
The issue of ethnic nationalism and its inbuilt trend to break up traditional nation-states 1) by transcending their borders via postulations of desired unity between ethnic groups based on considerations of identity and culture (including religion), and 2) by imploding national unity through a mixture of group affiliation, space, and minority-majority conflicts has been growing globally since the end of the Cold War in 1989-91. Some assert this has come as “natural” development since the world after the bipolar conflict of the second half of the 20th century had to become more multi-polar and multi-faceted, and thus to break up into smaller units; some have seen this as the “age of fragmentation” of “mature” nation states in the context of globalization; and others again as the “post-national” return of the early interface between ethno-cultural and nationalist movements which were at the origin of modern nation states. Be it as it be, today the new ethno-mobilization trend affects geopolitical regions as different as those of China, Russia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Ethnopolitics Paper No. 41
South Tyrolean Solutions to Ethnic Conflicts from a Security Studies Perspective
This paper analyses the South Tyrolean power-sharing system using a security studies perspective. South Tyrol is one of the best confirmations of the assumption of power-sharing theories that such type of arrangement might encourage elites’ interethnic cooperation that at a later stage could spill over into society at large. However, power-sharing systems do not always work. Appling concepts from security studies (societal security and securitization) the paper identifies which specific dynamics made South Tyrol a successful story. I argue that this security studies framework offers a new insight to understand how power-sharing systems can tackle violent forms of ethnic mobilization and foster peaceful integration of society. The analysis shows that power-sharing arrangements, like those implemented in South Tyrol, can work when enacted in combination with other measures tackling societal security concerns, including measures of de-securitization that address processes of securitization, through which ethnic diversity is perceived as salient and conflictual.
Ethnopolitics Paper No. 40
(Re)Conceptualising Civil Society in Arab Thought
This paper outlines Arab discourse on civil society by exploring the terminology and conceptualisations adopted by Islamic and secular schools of thought. This involves looking at key themes including secularism, pluralism, renewal, reasoning and the relationship between state and civil society. A conceptual history of the notion is provided, particularly in relation to the context of the Arab world. This allows for an exploration into the historical presence of civil society in both Arab thought and practice. It is from the conceptual analysis of civil society that it is then possible to consider the limitations of the current discourse, introduce new features to the concept and as such attempt to reconceptualise the concept of civil society in such a way as to meet the demands of a modern, indigenous Arab civil society. This reconceptualisation of civil society lies predominantly in placing resistance at the heart of civil society, particularly when civil society is faced with a repressive state. Furthermore it considers the need of the construction of a social contract at the foundation of civil society in order for it to begin to act in its ideal.
Ethnopolitics Paper No. 39
Lebanon: In the Middle of Violence
Socio-political theorists and historians have pored over Lebanon’s record of internecine strife and foreign incursion, and posited sundry causal factors, including extraneous meddling by Western powers, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, regional instability, Lebanese culpability in instigating internal conflict, intercommunal confrontation, ethnicity, and religion. This article will examine four wars: (i) the 1860 civil war; (ii) the 1958 civil war; (iii) the 1975-1990 civil war; and (iv) the 2006 war with Israel. Although there have been intervening skirmishes, these conflicts represent significant conflagrations within ‘recent’ historical reach. The article will summarise each war and seek to calibrate main causes according to a categorical scale; but the overarching question will be: how culpable is religion? With the rise of the so-called Islamic State, the plight of Middle Eastern Christians, and the escalating tensions within the Sunni-Shi‘a dynamic, religion is perceived in some quarters as a primary causal factor of regional conflict. At the same time, Lebanon presents something of an historical paradigm of interreligious pluralism. There are a number of analyses of conflict in Lebanon. This article will provide an overview for those who are less familiar with the subject area and with Lebanon’s internal machinations.