Ethnonationalist Identification and Mobilization in the Post-Cold War World: A Theoretical Approach to Understanding Ethnic Conflict in the Moro and Uighur Islamic Movements

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Ethnic Communities, Political Movements, Islam, Pluralism


Islamic World and Near East History | Race and Ethnicity


This paper argues that ethnonationalist movements are increasing due to both domestic and international politics. The focus of this paper is the theoretical underpinnings of mobilization. I use two case studies, the Moros located in the southern most islands of the Philippines, and the Uighurs residing in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region located in northwest China. Both groups are fighting for independence from the state for ethnic freedom to practice Islam within the territory they live.

The domestic factors isolated which prompted a violent mobilization effort by both groups are discrimination by the state due to competition for scarce resources, and the in-migration of the dominant group within the state in their respected "autonomous" regions. Economic exploitation also plays a role, although it is not necessarily a rallying point for either movement in China or in the Philippines.

The international factors contributing to ethnonationalist mobilization are four-fold. First is the expanding role of the state in the lives of individuals, coupled with the changing perceptions of "territorial integrity." Additionally, the global economy and the communications revolution both play a leading role in linking the world together. Finally, the increase in nationalism, especially at the end of the cold war, has helped foster new movements seeking autonomy or complete independence.

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