Chapter

Identity, Rationality, and Emotion in the Processes of State Disintegration and Reconstruction

roger petersen

in Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199893157
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980079 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199893157.003.0011
Identity, Rationality, and Emotion in the Processes of State Disintegration and Reconstruction

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This chapter asks: How does the collapse of the state affect change in an activated ethnic demography—and how do emotions mediate such change? A vast body of previous constructivist work has established that modern states create and maintain ethnic identity categories and the underlying attributes that constitute them. This chapter pursues the logical implications of this body of work: if states stabilize existing ethnic demographies, then state collapse should also destabilize them. The chapter first describes this collapse formally using the concepts developed in this book. The collapse of state structures, it notes, “loosens” attributes from currently activated categories, thus making them available for new combinations. This creates the conditions for change in an activated ethnic demography. At the same time, state collapse simultaneously unleashes emotions such as anger and resentment, that can play a primary role in determining which categories are activated subsequently, and the extent to which they are stable over time. The chapter models the way in which state collapse and its emotional aftermath systematically affect ethnic identity change, and illustrates the model with examples from Moldova and Eastern Europe.

Keywords: Eastern Europe; Moldova; rationality; emotion; anger; resentment; state-building; state-collapse; reconstruction

Chapter.  13486 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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