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Politicized Ethnicity A Comparative Perspective

1 November 2015

Politicized Ethnicity 

A Comparative Perspective


by Anke Weber, Wesley Hiers and Anaïd Flesken

November 2015

Why is ethnic identity an important factor in politics in some countries but not in others? This book offers a rigorous comparative analysis of five cases in three regions – Kenya, Tanzania, Bolivia, Peru, and the United States – to demonstrate how colonial administrative rule, access to resources, nation building and language policies, as well as political entrepreneurs contribute to the politicization of ethnicity. The analytical framework in this book identifies how ethnic identities are transformed into socially salient ethnic identities, and how some of these socially salient ethnic identities are used for political mobilization. Long-run factors affecting ethnicity politicization are colonial administrative rule and access to resources. Actions by political entrepreneurs, in contrast, play a major role in short-run, intense bursts of politicized ethnicity. Nation-building policies have the potential to reduce ethnicity politicization and to work towards an inclusive society.

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