Most research on the effect of ethnicity on economic and political outcomes is driven by the "primordialist " assumption that ethnic identities are fixed. But "constructivist " research across the social sciences and humanities tells us that ethnic identities change over time, and are often a product of the very political and economic phenomena that they are used to explain.
Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics is a first cut at rebuilding theories of the relationship between ethnicity, politics and economics on a fortified constructivist foundation. It proposes a new conceptual framework for thinking about ethnic identity. It uses this framework to synthesize constructivist arguments into a set of propositions about how and why ethnic identities change. It translates this framework - and the propositions derived from it - into a new, combinatorial
language. And it employs these conceptual, constructivist, and combinatorial tools to theorize about the relationship between ethnicity, politics and economics using a variety of methods.
The conceptual tools provided here open new avenues for theory building by representing the complexity of a constructivist world in an analytically tractable way. The theoretical arguments challenge the bad name that ethnic diversity has acquired in social scientific literature, according to which it is associated with regimes that are less stable, less democratic, less well-governed, less peaceful and poorer than regimes in which the population is ethnically homogeneous. Taking the possibility
of change in ethnic identity into account, this book shows, dismantles the theoretical logics linking ethnic diversity to such negative outcomes. Indeed, ethnic diversity can sometimes serve as a benign force, strengthening rather than threatening democracy, preventing rather than producing
violence, and inhibiting rather than accelerating state collapse or secession. Even more importantly, it defines new research agendas by changing the questions we can ask about the relationship between ethnicity, politics and economics.
Kanchan Chandra is Associate Professor of Politics at New York University.
1. Introduction ; Kanchan Chandra ; Part 1: Concepts ; 2. What is Ethnic Identity: A Minimalist Definition. ; Kanchan Chandra ; 3. Attributes and Categories: A New Conceptual Vocabulary ; For Thinking About Ethnic Identity ; Kanchan Chandra ; 4. How Ethnic Identities Change ; Kanchan Chandra ; 5. A Language for Thinking About Ethnic Identity Change ; Kanchan Chandra and Cilanne Boulet ; Part 2: Models ; 6. A Baseline Model of Change in an Activated Ethnic Demography ; Kanchan Chandra and Cilanne Boulet ; 7. Modeling the Evolution of an Ethnic Demography ; Maurits Van der Veen and David Laitin ; 8. How Fluid is Fluid? Ethnic Demography and Electoral Volatility in Africa ; Karen Ferree ; 9. Ethnicity and Pork: A Virtual Test of Causal Mechanisms ; David Laitin and Maurits Van Der Veen ; 10. Constructivism and Ethnic Riots ; Steven Wilkinson ; 11. Identity, Rationality, and Emotion in State Disintegration and Reconstruction ; Roger Petersen ; 12. Deploying Constructivism for the Analysis of Rare Events: How Possible is the Emergence of "Punjabistan?" ; Ian Lustick