Nicholas Tarling & Edmund Terence Gomez,
The State, Development and Identity in Multi-Ethnic Societies: Ethnicity, Equity and The Nation.
New York: Routledge, 2008. 230 pp, £85.50 (hbk).
In this edited volume, Nicholas Tarling and Edmund Terence Gomez bring together adiverse group of scholars to analyse the relationships between ethnic communities as wellas the issue of identity transformation. At the same time, the authors review the situationin several countries; including the United States, Britain, Spain, Belgium, New Zealand,Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Burma, Indonesia, China and Sri Lanka.
The concepts of ethnicity and identity are currently more popular than the lastcentury; yet they remain problematic. This problematic side of these concepts makesresearchers act carefully and diligently when studying on multi-ethnic states. Thisbrittleness arises out of the requirements of the ethnies. Here a quotation fromHobsbawm is relevant to describing Europe’s socio-political structure; ‘‘Every separa-tist movement in Europe that I can think of bases itself on ‘ethnicity,’ . . . that is to say, onthe assumption that ‘we’ – the Basques, Catalans, Scots, Croats, or Georgians – are adifferent people from the Spaniards, the English, the Serbs or the Russians, and thereforewe should not live in the same state with them’’ (quoted in Duncan, Jancar-Webster, Switky, World Politics in the 21st Century, 2006: 315).
In this context, this fascinating and well-researched book, which is compiled inaccordance with the aforementioned warnings, contains eleven essays and a longintroduction. The ﬁrst essay ‘Ethnicity’ by Nicholas Tarling provides an argumentrelated to the direct interaction between authoritarian governments and ethnic tensions.Tarling’s essay is followed by the essay ‘Inter-ethnic relations, business and identity: theChinese in Britain and Malaysia’ by Edmund Terence Gomez. This essay attempts toapproach ethnic relations from a different aspect. The author seeks to answer thequestion ‘is it a shared or common cultural identity among minority groups that aidsbusiness ventures and inﬂuences the form of enterprise development?’ (p. 51). In order toprovide an answer to this question several case studies are provided within the essay.
The third essay ‘Beyond Reductionism: State, Ethnicity, and Public Policy in PluralSocieties’ was contributed by Emile Kok-Kheng Yeoh. In this essay, the author focuseson three states; Malaysia, Spain and Belgium. The aim is to analyse the state, economy,society and inter-ethnic relations in these countries. This is a well-written andcomparative essay which should be taken into consideration by readers looking forprecise historical and economic facts about the aforementioned states. The fourth essay,‘Ethnic Identity Formation: the Case of Second Generation Chinese and Vietnamese inthe United States’, was compiled by Rebecca Kim. In this essay, the author examineswhether Second Generation Chinese and Vietnamese are assimilated or not. Assimila-tion theories and the historical background of Chinese and Vietnamese immigration arepresented and in accordance with these facts, the author draws a conclusion regarding towhat extent these immigrants have integrated into American society.
The next seven essays are respectively ‘A world on ﬁre? Some notes on Burma’ byAlfred Oehlers; ‘Hidden in Plain View: Singapore’s Race and Ethnicity Policies’ byNicole Tarulevicz; ‘The State and Public Policies, Civil Society and Identity Formationin Multi-Ethnic Societies: the Case of the Chinese in the Philippines’ by Teresita AngSee; The Politics of Redeﬁning Ethnic Identity in Indonesia: Smothering the Fires inLombok with Democracy’ by Kendra Clegg; ‘Development of China’s EthnicMinority Areas: the State and the Market’ by Xin Chen; ‘Public Policies and EthnicRelations in Sri Lanka’ by S. T. Hettige; ‘A Nation Within? Maori People andAutonomy in New Zealand 1840–2004’ by Danny Keenan.
This book has a great deal to recommend it. It has been carefully researched andabounds with empirical data. This lucidly written book is a comprehensive and compara-tive work. However, when the title is taken into consideration, the content of the book isinadequate, as it does not cover several important countries which should be consideredamong the leading multi-ethnic states; such as Canada, Argentina, and Australia.
Overall, in spite of not having novel arguments, Emeritus Professor NicholasTarling and Associate Professor Edmund Terence Gomez have compiled these articlesand succeeded in making an important contribution to the literature.
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How to Cite:
TUFEKCI, O. (2010), The State, Development and Identity in Multi-Ethnic Societies: Ethnicity, Equity and The Nation by Nicholas Tarling & Edmund Terence Gomez. Nations and Nationalism, 16: 545–546. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8129.2010.00456_1.x