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What is the future and will it work?

A new spectre is haunting the world - the fear of ethnic conflict and of the ethnic cleansing to which it seems to lead. The end of the cold war, the reunification of Germany, the emergency of a new South Africa, even the cautions steps towards peace between Israel and its neighbors would have seemed like miracles ten years ago. Now our relief seems to be dissipated by the gloomy prospect of…

Unity, Multiculturalism and the American Creed

NPR: At the beginning of this century, America was called God's crucible, the great melting pot. As we approach the end of the century, "melting pot" has been replaced by the buzzword "multicultural", which by some definitions separates us according to race, gender, and ethnic origin. Noted historian Arthur Schlesinger acknowledges that indeed we are a country of many cultures, but he's concerned…

Tragedy Among the Guarani

The Guarani Indians, numbering 27,000 are the largest Indian people of Brazil, yet local ranchers and government-supported development projects have forced them into the country's smallest Indian areas. In the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, which contains Brazil's highest concentration of Guarani, a near constant state of invasion by local ranchers has led to a dramatic decline in the living…

Traditional Aboriginal Hunting in Australia: A cultural heritage issue

An Aboriginal student from Strabroke Island in Australia wrote a noteworthy essay in 1993 on the question "What is cultural heritage?" He wrote that for him, and his people, all this is in the land and all that is in the knowledge about the land and the life of the people is cultural heritage. He gave as an example, the shellfish eugarie (pipi) which he had been taught by his father to gather,…

The Indian Resurgence in Mexico

The Indian uprising in Chiapas in January 1994 (See Cultural Survival Quarterly, Spring 1994) (See Cultural Survival Quarterly, Spring 1994) took most people by surprise (so much for the predictive value of the social sciences!). The implications of this social and political movement will be debated for a long time, but already it calls for the need to reassess relations between indigenous…

The Burden of Cultural Identity

It is generally assumed that, in settings of cultural pluralism, the traditional ways of life of ethnic minorities, unless protected, face radical transformations if not total extinction. Such ways of life are threatened either by extra-national, global forces (such as modern technologies and `modern' lifestyles), or by a dominant majority, which may control the apparatus of the state - or by…

The Apocalypse in Rwanda

The scenes of mayhem are straight out of the apocalypse. From a distance their bodies look like broken dolls floating down the Akagera River, limbs severed by the hand of an angry child; moving closer to the scene brings into view the horror of a carnage described by one French official as the biggest genocide of the end of the century. The suffering inflicted on the victims is inscribed in the…

Sovereignty and Indian Gaming in the United States

The development of gaming operations on Indian reservations, and the phenomenal success some tribes have had with these operations, has brought a new dimension to the debate over Indian sovereignty. For the first time some tribes now have, through gaming profits, the economic means to exercise their "inherent sovereign powers," among many, the ability to provide essential services themselves…

Oil Exploration Threatens Burma's Indigenous Peoples

Several major international oil companies have recently come under fire from human rights and environmental groups for their plans to build a natural gas pipe-line in Burma. Organizations such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club charge that investment in the exploitation of Burma's gas reserves by French-based Total, Texaco and UNOCAL (US), Nippon Oil (Japan), Premier (Great Britain) and the…

Multiculturalism: Some Lessons from Indonesia

While the United States debates what multiculturalism is, what it should be, and whether it is even a desirable goal, Indonesia appears to have gone a long way towards conceptualizing and implementing a national vision of multi-ethnic coexistence. "Unity in Diversity" (Bhinneka Tunggall Ika) was proclaimed the national motto of newly-independent Indonesia when it served the bonds of Dutch…

Language and the Politics of Self-Expression

Between 1978 and 1985, Guatemala was engulfed in intense internal warfare, la violencia as it was called in the country. The poor were caught in the middle. The guerrillas sought to radicalize them, and the army to punish them so they would not collaborate with or join the opposition. During the height of the violence, and estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people were killed; half a million people out…

The "New Minorities" in Post-Soviet states

At present most post-Soviet states are being literally torn apart by ethnic conflicts. Possible disintegration, or transformation into confederations of "ethnic/cultural territories" confront Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, and Estonia, not to mention Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Tadjikistan. In the Russian Federation, Chechen or Tuva republics are demonstrating secessionist moves, while…

Indigenous Peoples, Ancestral Lands and Human Rights in the Philippines

On the night of June 7, 1993, two farmers were shot and killed in Upper Bulacao, Barangay Pardo, Cebu City. The gunman, identified by several at the scene, remains at large, as do those with whom he conspired to commit the murders - for few believe he acted alone. This incident, which attracted only brief attention in the Cebu City press, was the latest and dealiest escalation in an acrimonious…

Perspectives on ethnic Accord in Post-Soviet Space

Ethnicity and nationalism have taken on conflicting forms in the post-Soviet world. Ethnonationalism has contradictory implications for politics and civic life in the region. On one hand, the rise of ethnic identities and ethnopolitics was a major factor behind the disintegration of the unitarian state. Nationalist movements have helped to preserve cultural integrity and have become the basis for…

Indigenous Identity Transition in Russia: An international legal perspective

Indigenous Identity Transition in Russia: An international legal. perspective The political changes in Russia in recent years have brought tremendous changes to the lives of the hundreds of indigenous nationalities in that country. All are asserting their rights and redefining their relationship with regional and national governments and with the non-indigenous populations among whom they live.…

Prospects for Plural Societies in Central Asia

Landlocked and lying at the heart of the Eurasian continent, Central Asia once served as a vital overland hub in the "Silk Route" that linked East and West for more than 200 years. It was a crossroads for the movement of whole peoples, cultures, and religions. New conquerors would replace old, but each soon absorbed the region's culture and melded with groups already there. While each ethnic…

Identity Politics and Multiculturalism in Quebec

CONFRONTING HISTORY Given the plight of most minority cultures today in resisting assimilation into the vortex of stronger, dominant cultures. French-speaking Quebecers - the Québecois as they are known - represent something of a success story. IN the last three decades, driven by a powerful and dynamic ethnonationalist pride, they have managed to tackle the stigma of colonial conquest and…

Ethnic Violence and the making of Pluralist Spain

Last June, while visiting the Basque Provinces, I asked Agurtzane Juanena, head bibliographer of the regional library of al Diputación de Gipuzkoa, and an old friend, about the library's holdings on the issue of the pluralism in the Basque Provinces. I immediately realized that the question was a dead end. "Pluralism," Agurtzane repeated aloud with a pensive and puzzled voice, "there is no such…

Democracy, Fried Chicken and the Atomic Bomb

Is it sacrilegious to recall here Malcolm Bradbury's Doctor Criminale, a novel about a mythical postmodern philosopher, a fictional fusion of Foucault and Derrida? At a crucial moment in Bradbury's story, the ex-Hungarian ex-wife of the hero, one Gertla Riviero, reflects, upon the fin de siecle transition to democracy and free market economics in Central Europe and Latin America (Bradbury 1992:…

Nationalism and Pluralism in the Heart of the Balkans: The Republic of Macedonia

Nationalism and Pluralism in the Heart of the Balkans: The Republic of. Macedonia Unlike Slovenia, Croatia, and most tragically of all, Bosnia, the Republic of Macedonia (also known as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) emerged peacefully in 1991 from the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. It is now struggling to survive against very difficult odds as a sovereign, democratic, and…

Kalash Struggle to Protect Ancestral Lands

In 1982, the government of Pakistan began destroying the forests of the remote Himalayan Rumbar Valley, in the northern province of Chitral. This region is inhabited by the Kalash peoples, who have been under pressure to convert to Islam from missionaries. Today, the Kalash are the last polytheistic pagan group of nearly 4,000 people in the predominately Islamic Hindu Kush area. This indigenous…

Defending Burma's Salween River

Rising in the headwaters of Tibet, the Salween is one of the five great rivers of Asia. Her sisters are the Mekong, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers. On her way to the Andaman Sea, the Salween rushes down deep gorges, alternating with broad expanses before emerging at Moulmein in southern Burma. For the most part, the Salween flows through Burma, but there is a short section where she…

Dealing With Ethnic Conflict

Ethnic conflict is not a given, either in our genes or in our cultures. How then do we account for the atrocities that flicker daily in our TV news reports? To answer this question, Cultural Survival has, for this issue of the Quarterly, invited distinguished scholars from all over the world to analyze ethnic conflicts in every corner of the globe. Their analyses underscore a point that is now…