Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Why might constructed nationalist and ethnic ideologies come into confrontation with each other?

Brown, D. (2002) Why might constructed nationalist and ethnic ideologies come into confrontation with each other? The Pacific Review, 15 (4). pp. 555-570.

Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


The paper develops a model for examining ethnic conflict in Southeast Asia, using Indonesia as an illustrative case. Ethnic conflict is explained as arising not out of the facts of ethno-cultural pluralism, but rather out of the disentwining of the three visions of the nation: as civic community, as ethno-cultural community and as multicultural community. This disentwining occurs particularly in the context of pressures for democratization. Three aspects of politics are identified as promoting the disentwining so as to engender the weakening of the civic nationalist vision, and thence the confrontation between a majoritarian ethno-cultural nationalism and a minority-focused multicultural nationalism. First, the spread of ideas related to democracy generates the spread of liberal forms of the three nationalist visions, alongside the authoritarian forms, and puts the spotlight on the divergences between these visions. Ideas of democracy are then highjacked by ethnic majorities claiming majority rights, and by ethnic minorities claiming minority rights. Second, the patrimonial basis for politics in much of Southeast Asia means that ethnic majorities and minorities alike perceive democratization as the search for responsive patrons, rather than as the search for civic equality. Third, civic nationalism is further weakened by the erosion of faith in the social justice promises of state elites. While these features of politics promote ethnic tensions, they also generate countervailing factors that ensure the political disunity of ethnic minorities, and thereby inhibit the extent of ethnic conflict.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Politics and International Studies
Publisher: Routledge
Item Control Page Item Control Page