Book - MIT Press

Government Policies and Ethnic Relations in Asia and the Pacific

| October 1997


"This extraordinarily rich study of how governments in Asia and the Pacific have tried to cope with ethnic divisions within their borders challenges many widely accepted premises. No single volume does as much to illuminate the role that deliberate policy choices play in the development of ethnic tensions in multiethnic states. Covering sixteen countries, examining historical precedent and present practice, this volume derives lessons that have implications far beyond Asia and the Pacific. It should be required reading for policymakers, human rights advocates, and the concerned public."

— Sidney Jones, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch Asia

"This outstanding work opens up a truly new perspective for understanding ethnic problems and relations. The multinational team of knowledgeable authors has produced first-rate country studies of the Asian and Pacific regions, as well as conclusions and insights of global significance for understanding what can be done about problems arising from the realities of ethnicity."

— Lucian Pye, Ford Professor of Political Science Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ethnic conflict, one of the most serious and widespread problems in the world today, can undermine efforts to promote political and economic development, as well as political, economic, and social justice. It can also lead to violence and open warfare, producing horrifying levels of death and destruction. Although government policies on ethnic issues often have profound effects on a country, the subject has been neglected by most scholars and analysts.

This volume analyzes different policies governments have pursued in their efforts to contend with the tensions inherent in multiethnic societies. The book focuses on Asia and the Pacific, the most populous and economically vibrant part of the world. The heart of the book is a set of case studies of government policies in sixteen countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, China, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The studies consider a wide range of political, economic, educational, linguistic, and cultural policies, and how these policies have evolved over time. Using a broad comparative perspective to assess the effectiveness of different governmental approaches, the authors offer policy recommendations that cut across individual countries and regions.

Michael E. Brown is Director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. Šumit Ganguly is Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. They are coeditors of Fighting Words: Language Policy and Ethnic Relations in Asia.

About This Book

Government Policies and Ethnic Relations in Asia and the Pacific
For more information on this publication: Please contact International Security
For Academic Citation: Government Policies and Ethnic Relations in Asia and the Pacific. Edited by Michael E. Brown, and Sumit Ganguly, eds.. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, October 1997.

The Editors