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Democracy and Ethnic Conflicts: The Politics of Ethnicity and Conflict Resolution in South Asia

Rösel, Jakob
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In Foblets, Marie-Claire, and Trutz von Trotha, eds., Healing the Wounds: Essays on the Reconstruction of Societies after War. Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing. Pp. 203-220.

A consideration of experiments in democratization in South Asia over the last half century is a large and daunting task, writes Jakob Rösel, if only because more than one fifth of humanity lives in the region. Because of this, Rösel focuses on analysis of democracy and ethnic conflicts in three cases: India; Pakistan; and Sri Lanka. The first represents a successful process of democratization; the second, a repeated failure at democratization; and the third, an attempt to establish an ethnic, pro-Sinhalese democracy. In each case, he concentrates on four points of comparison: (a) issues of balance between the imperative of secularism as against the claims of a dominant religion or religious majority; between civil administration, democratic party control, and military power; and between the ideal of a unitary and the demands for a federal state; (b) the nature of the party system that developed in each situation; (c) the type of identities and patterns of allegiances which survived or which evolved during these experiments; and (d) the specific political style and strategy of coping with ethnic conflict which has arisen in each case.


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