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Articles in Ethnicity

Iranian Azerbaijan and the Cartoon Cockroach Controversy

By Martin W. Lewis | April 30, 2010 | 25 Comments

Iran is to Azerbaijan as Thailand is to Laos: just as Thailand has far more Lao-speakers than Laos, Iran has far more Azeri-speakers than Azerbaijan. Some 18 million Azeris live in Iran (where they comprise 20 to 25 percent of a large populace); that is more than double the number in Azerbaijan

Ethnic Strife and the Reinvention of Uzbek Identity

By Martin W. Lewis | April 20, 2010 | One Comment

Ethnic conflicts have periodically broken out in former Soviet Central Asia. Clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the Fergana Valley took hundreds of lives in 1990, and discord between Uzbeks and Tajiks in Uzbekistan continue to simmer. Yet ethnic strife of this sort is not a long-standing feature of the region. Central Asia’s various peoples

Afghanistan’s Hazaras: Fears and Hopes

By Martin W. Lewis | April 16, 2010 | 2 Comments

The restive Hazara region of Pakistan is not inhabited by the Hazara people, whose homeland, Hazarajat, lies instead in central Afghanistan. But the Hindkowans of Hazara and the Hazara of Hazarajat face some similar issues. Both have tense and sometime violent relations with the Pashtun people who live between them. And in both areas, development

Provincial Names and Ethnic Tensions in Pakistan

By Martin W. Lewis | April 14, 2010 |

A bill to change Pakistan’s constitution, largely by reducing the extensive powers of the presidency and increasing provincial autonomy, has been working its way through parliament. The proposal has broad support; President Asif Ali Zardari is extremely unpopular, as were his immediate processors. One seemingly innocuous amendment to the bill, however, has proved bitterly divisive

Ethiopia’s Failed Ethnic Federalism

By Martin W. Lewis | March 23, 2010 |

Ethiopia is known for a venerable Christian tradition and a record of successful resistance to nineteenth-century European colonization. Less often discussed is the depth of Islam in the country, whose population today is more than one third Muslim. Also overlooked is Ethiopia’s transformation into an imperial state in its own right during the late

Communist Insurgents and Ethnic Militias in Northern Luzon: The NPA Vs. the CPLA

By Martin W. Lewis | March 2, 2010 |

The main focus of insurgency in the Philippines has long been the Muslim southwest. But as discussed in last Friday’s post, the Maoist New People’s Army (NPA) remains active in remote areas throughout the archipelago. One of the NPA’s main zones of operation is the Cordillera of Northern Luzon, a rugged area divided into

Ethnic Issues in Iraq’s New Census

By Martin W. Lewis | January 25, 2010 |

The government of Iraq recently announced that it is preparing to conduct its first census since 1987. Merely holding a census is controversial, especially in the ethnically mixed areas of northern Iraq. The main issue concerns the eventual size — and share of governmental revenues — of the Kurdish Autonomous Region. The Kurds lay claim

The Plight of the Rohingyas

By Martin W. Lewis | January 2, 2010 |

The standard linguistic map of Burma/Myanmar (below) reveals a significant number of ethnic groups. Unfortunately, it also conceals much of the country’s diversity, as a number of separate peoples are joined together into composite ethnic categories, while others are simply ignored. The most important group in the latter category are the Rohingyas, a distinct people

Ethnic Rioting in Suriname

By Martin W. Lewis | December 30, 2009 | 4 Comments

In late December 2009, anti-Brazilian rioting broke out in the town of Albina in northeastern Suriname after a Brazilian man allegedly stabbed and killed a local resident. The ethnic violence grew so intensive that the Brazilian Foreign Ministry was forced to send in two aircraft to airlift its citizens from

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