Perils or Promise of Ethnic Integration? Evidence from a Hard Case in Burundi
74 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2013
Date Written: November 27, 2012
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
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