Ethnogenesis and Statelessness

38 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2021 Last revised: 2 Dec 2021

See all articles by Vincent Geloso

Vincent Geloso

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Louis Rouanet

Western Kentucky University

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The process of ethnogenesis (i.e. the formation of new ethnic groups) is here considered equivalent to the production of “governance goods” in situations where the state is weak or absent. In the absence of a state, the process of ethnogenesis is a response to 1) the problem of social distance between heterogeneous groups which is a barrier to trade and 2) the problem of providing public goods. As an investment in governance, ethnogenesis reduces the costs of trading and cooperating, and expands the scope for specialization. We rely on two examples of peaceful and productive relations between Native Indians and European settlers in Canada between the early seventeenth and mid-nineteenth centuries to support our hypothesis. The emergence of “hybrid” cultural groups and identities fostered peaceful relations and facilitated trade in borderland areas in which state rule was virtually nonexistent. It also permitted these new groups to provide key collective goods within their own communities. This, in turn, facilitated international trade (especially in furs). Both of our examples suggest that cultural processes can be endogenous responses to the production of governance.

Keywords: Ethnogenesis, statelessness, self-governance

Suggested Citation

Geloso, Vincent and Rouanet, Louis, Ethnogenesis and Statelessness. Available at SSRN:

Vincent Geloso (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Louis Rouanet

Western Kentucky University ( email )

1 Big Red Way
Bowling Green, KY 42101-3576
United States

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