This course examines the historical origins and contemporary dynamics of ethnic politics in the developing world. We will explore different theoretical approaches to the study of ethnic conflict, as well as the impact of colonialism on ethnic identities, and the legacy of decolonization on nationalist movements in the developing world. Lastly, we will examine a number of post-independence challenges faced by multiethnic states through the use of case studies.
This course is designed to provide students with a broad overview of the major theories on the relationship between ethnicity and politics. We will attempt to address of number of questions in this literature. These include: To what extent is ethnic identity a causal factor or simply a label that is assigned to contemporary political violence? If ethnicity identity is a causal factor, is it compatible with predictive theories, and if so how can it be incorporated? Can we account for the origins and nature of ethnic identity, and if so, how? We will examine both theoretical and empirical studies and explore whether existing theoretical models adequately examine the issue at hand. The course is not designed to teach you a litany of facts about different conflicts that rage around the world. Rather, it is designed to give you an important set of intellectual tools with which you can think historically and critically and about the world around you.