Perils or Promise of Ethnic Integration? Evidence from a Hard Case in Burundi

74 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2013

See all articles by Cyrus Samii

Cyrus Samii

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Date Written: November 27, 2012

Abstract

A central question in the study of political development is how conflict between ethnic groups might be transcended. Findings from social psychology suggest that ethnically integrating institutions such as militaries or representative bodies may remove prejudices and exclusionary behavior that perpetuate inter-ethnic animosity. Political scientists have tended to be skeptical, arguing that such processes may actually intensify or "freeze'' conflicting ethnic identities. I use evidence from a hard case --- military reform in the aftermath of a brutal, ethnically-charged civil war in Burundi --- to study this issue. At the macro-level, the Burundian military undertook extensive quota-based integration that nonetheless resulted in a cohesive institution. A micro-level natural experiment, which produces quasi-random exposure to ethnic integration through the military retirement age, shows that exposure to ethnic integration decreases prejudicial behavior and is benign with respect to ethnic salience. Together, these results suggest promise in ethnic integration.

Keywords: ethnic conflict, conflict resolution, contact hypothesis, integration, military reform

Suggested Citation

Samii, Cyrus, Perils or Promise of Ethnic Integration? Evidence from a Hard Case in Burundi (November 27, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2198358 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2198358

Cyrus Samii (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States

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