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The ethnic majority: Benign or malign?

Brown, D. (2008) The ethnic majority: Benign or malign? Nations and Nationalism, 14 (4). pp. 768-788.

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Since the consciousness of the ethnic majority frequently develops in the context of the formation of the nation-state, its tendency to ethnocentrism is thereby inhibited by a commitment to the civic norms associated with the modern state. This gives a potentially benign character to its support for the national integration of ethnic minorities. It is then argued that ethnic majorities can also exhibit a more malign face which has its origin in disillusionment with democracy. The resultant feelings of marginalisation are resolved by the construction of a ressentiment nationalism which reassures the ethnic majority of its virtue and status as the ethnic core, by identifying demonised minorities against which it can mobilise. When this dark face of majoritarian ethnic nationalism is tapped by populist politicians, it sustains violence against ethnic minorities. The argument is illustrated through the example of Thai support for state violence against Muslim demonstrators in Southern Thailand.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc.
Copyright: © The author 2008
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