Language, Identity, and Conflict Chapter 9: Language movements, ethnic mobilisation and the state What are the primary sources of conflict in Europe today? What are the primary sources of conflict in Europe today? • Ethnicity, which also involves language issues • Because language is an issue that can be addressed, if we understand the source of conflict, resolution may be possible Language conflict • Language relates to the Western European phenomenon of “ethnic separatism” which arises due to 19th c nation-building goals: – Identity: entire populace involved in national state community – Legitimacy: acceptance of state authority – Participation: more people involved in politics – Distribution: equal access to resources – Penetration: operation of state extends to periphery Language conflict, cont’d. • These conditions threaten minorities with assimilation and they respond with ethnic separatism • Preconditions of ethnic separatism: – Homeland – Cultural basis – Opposition groups associated with threats to the group • Language is a political resource, and asserting language also asserts economic/political status Language conflict, cont’d. • Language is a factor only in conflicts that are “ethnic”, and language is key to managing and resolving such conflicts • Such conflicts arise because the nationstate does not address the issues of ethnic groups Language conflict post-USSR • Former USSR has generated many such conflicts because in the power vacuum after the collapse of the Soviet state, there has been an attempt to build new nationstates to assert ethnic and linguistic identities. The new post-Soviet nations adopted the template of a culturally homogeneous and sovereign nation-state. They asserted their majority languages and suppressed Russian. Language conflict post-Yugoslavia • A land at a crossroads of collapsing empires, Serbs and Croats believe they speak different languages despite claims to the contrary, Albanian vs. Serbian and Macedonian continues to be an issue, as is the distinction of Macedonian vs. Bulgarian • Note parallel of German vs. French nationstates and mutual distrust and deprecation EU • EU shows that other models, not just nation-state, are possible, that authority can be multi-tiered and not linked to nation Language in conflict theory • Non-negotiable basic human needs which can be a source of conflict if suppressed: – Physical & psychological security – Basic survival needs – Identity needs – Economic needs – Political participation – Freedom Language in conflict theory, cont’d. • A society with multiple communities is more likely to develop protracted social conflicts • But almost all societies (nation-states) have more than one ethnic group, and that doesn’t explain conflict, conflict must also involve some unequal distribution of resources & unequal access to control & governance Language in conflict theory, cont’d. • Basic human needs are not limited to biological needs • The need to have an identity and be respected in that identity is also a basic need • Cultural identity is variously distributed, along with it sets of beliefs that have direct impact on how interests, resources, and power are perceived • Culture is essential to understanding power Conclusions • Language is a need which related to issues of identity, ideology, resources, and governance. • Language plays a role in cultural basis of a group and in material needs. • Language is both a socio-political resource and a need.