Paul R. Brass

Ethnicity and Nationalism: Theory and Comparison


Ethnicity and nationalism, interethnic conflicts, and secessionist movements have been major forces shaping the modern world and the structure and stability of contemporary states. In the closing decades of the twentieth century, such forces and movements emerged with new intensity. Drawing examples, from a wide variety of multiethnic situations around the world, with special emphasis on South Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union, the book presents a distinctive theory concerning the origins of ethnic identity and modern nationalism.

The theory is based on two focal arguments: one, that ethnicity and nationalism are not "givens" but are social and political constructions; and, two, that ethnicity and nationalism are modern phenomena inseparably connected with the activities of the modern centralizing state. The theory of elite competition is presented to show how both ethnicity and nationalism arise out of specific types of interactions between the leadership of centralizing states and elites from non-dominant ethnic groups, especially in the peripheries of those states. The book test this theory and discusses the various patterns of ethnic mobilization and nation-formation through case studies.

The book is divided into three parts. In Part I, the focus is on the formation, persistence and transformation of ethnic identities. This section starts with two theoretical essays and concludes with a case study of Muslim identiy in preindependence India. Part II focuses on the strains in relations between the central and state governments in Indian politics, especially after the death of Nehru. It contains an overview of center-state relations and two chapters on the Punjab crisis of the 1980s. In the concluding section, the arguments concerning the relationship between ethnic groups and the state are brought together in a theoretical chapter, a comparative chapter on India and the Soviet Union, and a critique of the influential consociational solution proposed for ethnic conflicts in deeply divided societies.

Presenting an original perspeticve on the major themes and arguments concerning ethnicity and nationalism, the book has been used, and continues to be used by scholars and teachers engaged in the fields of ethnicity and nationalism, politics, sociology and anthropology.

Selected Works

Books
An Indian Political Life focuss on the role of Charan Singh in the politics of the period, while providing a broader perspective on the major issues, controveries, and developments of the time.
This collection of essays focus on the various forms of collective violence that have occurred in India during the past six decades, which include riots, pogroms, and genocide.
Explains the persistence of Hindu-Muslim rioting in India.
Case studies of collective violence in the twentieth century.
Second edition, covering Indian politics and political economy from 1947 to 1992.
Comparative and theoretical studies of ethnic groups and nationalities in India and the Soviet Union.
Comparative studies in ethnic conflict and the interaction of ethnic identity and the state.
History and analysis of the politics of language and religious movements in northern India,
The first major study of local politics in post-Independence India.
Articles and Essays
Critique of the Social Sciences in Light of the Works of Nietzsche and Foucault
Focuses on three aspects of the Bihar Famine crisis: the process of defining the situation in Bihar; the rehtoric used in labeling it and in distinguishing it from a "normal" situation; and the responses of the authorities to the crisis.
A consideration of the consequences of curfew restrictions for the populations affected by them and the human rights issues raised by extended and punitive curfew restrictions, with special attention to India.
Discusses the problems of memorialization faced by religious/ethnic communities whose members have been subjected to large-scale, traumatic violence.
Reviews of my book by Thomas Blom Hansen, A. R. Momin, and Roger Petersen, with my response.
Text of article published in the INDIAN JOURNAL OF SECULARISM, Vol. 9 No. 1 (Jan-Mar 2006)
Biographies of Indira Gandhi, Jayaprakash Narayan, Vallabhbhai Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and Ram Manohar Lohia in the New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Text of article published in the ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY (October 30, 2004).
Text of article published in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 27 (No. 3) May 2004, pp. 353-375.
Chapter 1 in Ravinder Kaur (ed.), Religion, Violence and Political Mobilisation in South Asia (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2005), pp. 46-68.
Analysis of the 1984 parliamentary election results in Uttar Pradesh
Text of article published in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Dec., 1968), 1174-1191.
Text of article published in Modern Asian Studies, XVIII, No. 1 (February, 1984), 89-118.
Transcript of a discussion with Asghar Ali Engineer at the Center for Ethics and Public Policy, Washington, D. C., held on January 12, 2004
Analysis of the killings and destruction in the Indian state of Gujarat after February 27, 2002.
Analysis of Foucault's ideas concerning power, knowledge, governing, and governance.
Conference papers
Prepared for the Panel on “Corruption as Practice and Discourse in India” at the Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin, Madison, October 19-22, 2006
Prepared for the Hiroshima Peace Institute Conference on Comparative Research into Genocide and Mass Violence, Hiroshima, Japan, March 22-26, 2004)
Methodology and ideology in the analysis of forms of collective violence