Crawford Young and a panel of contributors here assess the changing impact of cultural pluralism on political processes around the world, specifically in the former Soviet Union, China, the United States, India, Ethiopia and Guatemala. The result is a survey of the dissolution of the nation-state system as we have known it. Young opens with an overview of the dramatic rise in the political significance of cultural pluralism and of scholars' changing understanding of what drives and shapes ethnic identification. Mark Beissinger explains the demise of the last great empire-state, the USSR, while Edward Friedman notes growing challenges to the apparent cultural homogeneity of China. Nader Entessar suggests contrasts in Azeri identity politics in Iran and the former USSR. Ronald Schmidt and Noel Kent explore the linguistic and racial dimensions of the rising multicultural currents in the United States. Douglas Spitz shows the extent of the decline of the old secular vision of India of the independence generation; Alan LeBaron traces the recent emergence of an assertive Mayan identity among a submerged populace in Guatemala, long thought to be destined for Ladinoization. A case study of the diversity and uncertain future of Ethiopia emerges from four contrasting contributions: Tekle Woldemikael looks at the potential cultural tensions in Eritrea; Solomon Gashaw offers a central Ethiopian nationalist perspective; Herbert Lewis reflects the perspectives of a restless and disaffected periphery; and James Quirin provides an arresting explanation of the construction of identity amongst the Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews). Virginia Sapiro offers an original analysis of the interaction between cultural pluralism and gender.
Crawford Young is the Rupert Emerson Professor of Political Science at the University Of Wisconsin-Madison. His many books include Politics in the Congo, Ideology and Development in Africa, The Politics of Cultural Pluralism, and The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State, the last two published with the University Of Wisconsin Press.