A – Minorities, national belonging, and state-building

Inequality and social cohesion: Political and institutional implications

Event Details

  • Date

    Friday, 26 June - 14:00 – 16:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    A – Minorities, national belonging, and state-building
Panelists
  • Daniel Hanglberger (Johannes Kepler University Linz)
  • Andreas Exenberger (University Innsbruck, Department of Economic Theory, Policy and History)
  • Craig Willis (European Centre for Minority Issues, Flensburg)
  • Mahbul Haque (Bangladesh Centre for Human Rights and Development (BCHRD))

Papers

  • Daniel Hanglberger
    When and why become minorities relevant? Territorialization, the emergence of the modern nation, and the new connection of culture and politics

    When and why become minorities relevant? Territorialization, the emergence of the modern nation, and the new connection of culture and politics

    Cultural minorities have always existed, yet since when and why have minorities become uninterruptedly politically problematic? The answer lies in the emergence of nation-states since the late medieval ages. In contrast to prominent theories, nationalization, it will be argued, is a side effect of several processes of territorialization in which drastic changes occurred regarding the relevance of cultural similarity to social cohesion and the wielding of legitimate political power. Thus a permanent condition manifested, very unlike feudalism, globally adaptable, independent of economic development and cultural backgrounds, in which minorities are perceived as deviation from a leading culture.
  • Andreas Exenberger
    Inequality, extraction, social orders and marginalizing institutions

    Inequality, extraction, social orders and marginalizing institutions

    As embodied in the concept of “inequality extraction” (Branko Milanovic), it is not possible to increase inequality sustainably to levels beyond what is actually socially acceptable (and even less to levels beyond physical subsistence). Consequently, in international and intertemporal comparisons of inequality levels on the country (or the regional) level and for poorer societies in general, adaptations for the levels of inequality which are actually feasible in physical and social terms are necessary to arrive at meaningful conclusions. This concept is extended in this paper to also cover top-incomes ratios to allow a broader data base for measurement and analysis of cross-country historical inequality. Further, it is also combined with the concept of limited and open access social orders (Douglass North and others) to explain the evidence of inequality patterns in the 20th century (and partly also the 19th). A first look at the data suggests that there are not only quite different dynamics of the levels of inequality extraction when compared to the levels of absolute inequality, but also that there are systematic relations of these patterns to institutional arrangements, especially colonial relations between societies and the degree of democratisation of societies. Finally, the discussion will also address the issue of marginalization strategies possibly embodied in these patterns of extraction. While the concept as such is primarily a descriptive one (societies can be characterized as showing a rather inclusive or exclusive outcome on the basis of adapted inequality data), it is analytically highly relevant to also include a political dimension (societies can also be characterized as showing a rather inclusive or exclusive input on the basis of specific institutions either intentionally designed for or at least practically resulting in certain patterns of inequality).
  • Craig Willis
    Inequality, extraction, social orders and marginalizing institutions

    Inequality, extraction, social orders and marginalizing institutions

    As embodied in the concept of “inequality extraction” (Branko Milanovic), it is not possible to increase inequality sustainably to levels beyond what is actually socially acceptable (and even less to levels beyond physical subsistence). Consequently, in international and intertemporal comparisons of inequality levels on the country (or the regional) level and for poorer societies in general, adaptations for the levels of inequality which are actually feasible in physical and social terms are necessary to arrive at meaningful conclusions. This concept is extended in this paper to also cover top-incomes ratios to allow a broader data base for measurement and analysis of cross-country historical inequality. Further, it is also combined with the concept of limited and open access social orders (Douglass North and others) to explain the evidence of inequality patterns in the 20th century (and partly also the 19th). A first look at the data suggests that there are not only quite different dynamics of the levels of inequality extraction when compared to the levels of absolute inequality, but also that there are systematic relations of these patterns to institutional arrangements, especially colonial relations between societies and the degree of democratisation of societies. Finally, the discussion will also address the issue of marginalization strategies possibly embodied in these patterns of extraction. While the concept as such is primarily a descriptive one (societies can be characterized as showing a rather inclusive or exclusive outcome on the basis of adapted inequality data), it is analytically highly relevant to also include a political dimension (societies can also be characterized as showing a rather inclusive or exclusive input on the basis of specific institutions either intentionally designed for or at least practically resulting in certain patterns of inequality).
  • Craig Willis
    Universal basic income as a tool against minority marginalisation

    Universal basic income as a tool against minority marginalisation

    Minority communities often face marginalisation that has perpetuated through generations. We seek to evaluate the potential of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a tool to break such reoccurring exclusion and implement social justice by empowering minorities on the community and individual level. Under four thematic criteria, we explore UBI’s estimated effects on the ability to live in one’s homeland, to learn in mother tongue, to preserve and develop cultural practices, and to further social and political equality. We argue that if certain criteria are met then UBI may affect minorities positively and thus lessen historic exclusion. *Co-authored with Prof. Dr. David P. Schweikard, Europa Universität Flensburg.
  • Mahbul Haque
    Strengthening networking between CSOs and HRDs to promote and protect the rights of minorities in Bangladesh

    Strengthening networking between CSOs and HRDs to promote and protect the rights of minorities in Bangladesh

    Sunni Muslims form the majority (90%) of the population of Bangladesh, the remainder is made up of religious minority groups: Hindus (8.5%), Buddhists (0.6%), and Christians (0.3%), including multiple denominations therein, and small populations of Ahmadis, Sufi, and Shi’a Muslims, Baha’i, Animists, as well as a growing number of atheists. Officially referred to as ‘ethnic minorities’, it is estimated that there are over 50 indigenous groups in Bangladesh, amounting to 1.5% of the population, who live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and the Plain land areas. Most indigenous peoples are also religious minorities – largely Buddhists, Christians, and some animists – reflecting overlapping minority identities. Caste-based or descent-based discrimination also affects both Hindus and Muslims in Bangladesh, with estimates of the number of Dalits ranging from 3.5 to 6.3 million. Acute levels of discrimination and violence against minorities have, over time, impacted the makeup of Bangladesh: for instance the number of Hindus has declined considerably, from 23% at the time of independence, to 8.5% according to the latest census, while some indigenous peoples have also fled to neighbouring India. Minorities in Bangladesh have long faced social, economic, and political discrimination, as well as violence at the hands of state and non-state actors. Bangladesh’s Constitution affirms certain rights for minorities, but the legal environment has increasingly entrenched a narrow understanding of Bangladeshi identity and reflects growing politicization of religion, including through establishing Islam as the state religion. The long-standing problem of non-recognition of indigenous communities remains unaddressed. Since 2013 the worsening political crisis, rising extremism, and impunity/lack of enforcement of legal provisions have contributed to escalating levels of violence against minorities. Religious minorities are often victim to reprisals and attacks –Hindus have been targeted following communal violence against Muslims in neighbouring India (Babri Masjid 1992, Gujarat 2002) and, more recently, after an International Crimes Tribunal verdict in 2013. Typically regarded as the Awami League ‘vote bank’, religious minorities have encountered violence around virtually all national level elections, and certain Union Parishad elections. The 2014 national elections saw the highest levels of violence in Bangladesh’s history, primarily concentrated in Northern districts. It was often linked to voter intimidation, with implications for minority participation. Since then high levels of violence against religious minorities have persisted - between March and December 2016, MRG and HRAB documented over 70 such cases. Smaller religious minorities have been affected by targeted attacks at the hands of extremists, including an attack on a Shi’a mosque in November 2015, the murder of Christian converts in January and March 2016, the targeted killing of a Buddhist monk in May 2016. For indigenous peoples living in the CHT, the legacy of conflict and non-implementation of the 1997 Peace Accord has had particularly severe implications as they remain vulnerable to attack from settlers, security personnel, and local officials attempting to secure political power or control over land. Between 2007 and 2015, the Kapaeeng Foundation (HRAB member) reported 434 cases of indigenous women and girls being subjected to gender-based violence. Similar forms of discrimination are faced by Dalits, who face particularly precarious conditions that have only recently been recognized by civil society groups in recent years. Many challenges are common across different minorities, including gender-based violence and the link between many minority rights violations and land, which escalate alongside rising political instability. Little effort has been made by the government to improve this situation. Following the 2014 election, a High Court ruling stated that law enforcement agencies has “seriously fail[ed]” to protection vulnerable groups, including minorities, from violence. A 2015 UNDP study found worsening access to justice from police in recent years, with particularly pronounced barriers for minorities. Detailed analysis by MRG and partners in 2016 identified obstacles at all stages of seeking redress, and showed these obstacles are exacerbated in cases of gender-based violence. The recent crackdown on political opposition and civil society, and targeting of activists by extremist groups, has had a detrimental effect on HRDs working on minority rights issues due to fear and intimidation. This is particularly worrying in the context of a deepening political crisis, and the upcoming general elections.

Abstract

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