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Assignment: Nation and Nationalism

Assignment: Nation and Nationalism

Assignment: Nation and Nationalism

NOW FOR AN ORIGINAL PAPER ASSIGNMENT:Assignment: Nation and Nationalism

Western concepts of “nation” and “nationalism” have little relevance, and yet success in forging a single national identity is crucial. Often, militant groups or movements hostile to social integration and modernization (Westernization) obstruct efforts at nation building. For example, Islam’s emphasis on piety, devotion to Allah, prayer five times each day, and strict rules of moral conduct are at odds with secularization, the sexual revolution, materialism, and self-gratification—in other words, the kinds of social change associated with modernization in the West.

Specific examples best illustrate the practical problems associated with diverse populations. Nigeria and India are both least developed countries with very diverse populations. Although we have focused on India and Nigeria, many other least developed countries face similar problems. Take Sri Lanka, for example.

Sri Lanka is split between the majority Sinhalese (74%), who are mostly Buddhist, and the Tamils (18%), who are mostly Hindu and predominate in the northern and eastern parts of the country. Militant Tamil groups seeking to secede—notably the Tamil Tigers—have carried out terrorist acts and conducted guerrilla warfare against the central government since 1983, when an outbreak of communal riots left at least two thousand Tamils dead.* Sri Lanka’s long and brutal civil war finally ended in 2009. During a decade in power, President Mahinda Rajapaska brought peace and progress to a country in great need of both. Having entrenched himself in power, he called for early elections in November 2014. In what one close observer has called a “miracle election,” Sri Lankan voters quietly turned Rajapaska out of office. Like India, Sri Lanka displays a pattern of cultural diversity that impedes the search for a national consensus, but the recent election demonstrates the power of elections to revitalize government and spur social change.

Rwanda and Burundi became genocidal killing fields in 1993–1994 as a result of hatred and mistrust between Hutu and Tutsi tribes. A decade later, a tragedy of similar proportions unfolded in eastern Sudan, where a government-sponsored campaign to crush rebels turned into a policy of ethnic cleansing, the unconscionable practice of rape, pillage, and mass murder, in the remote Darfur region. Some two million refugees—mostly women and children who managed to escape—were displaced during the genocidal civil war.