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 Blood on the Steppes: Ethnicity, Power, and Conflict

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    In this article written by Weatherford, the form and use of ethnic identity is the core focus and further elaborations has been provided on roles of various factors in shaping ethnic identities such as, religion, economics, politics and so forth. Weatherford has also discussed the various usages that ethnic identities may have: Men in pursuit of their own vested interests have used ethnic identities as a means to reach their goals and interests such as wealth, fame and even sexual indulgence.

    The study was done on Central Asian countries, mostly those which were in the eastern bloc, it is argued that most of the ethnic groups living in this region were under scrutiny by soviet authorities and after its collapse, various groups adopted different mechanisms to cope with the gap of identity that was apparent at that time. He concludes that whereas the twentieth century was the age of groups united by ideology, the twenty- first may well be ruled by ethnicity”. The target countries due to the periphery role they played under the autocratic regime of Soviet, under apparent social and cultural oppression had lost their sense of ethnic identity and after Soviet withdrawal many groups adopted and returned to their ethnic history to build their new states.

    For instance, in Uzbekistan attempts were made to create a nationalism centered on the famous historical figure, Tamerlane. Furthermore, enforcement of a pan-Uzbek identity was one of the main tools to reach this end, some Jews and Armenians who had lived in that territory for a long period of time were obliged to flee. However the reformation of identity in Turkmenistan was different, the president saw the revival of Turkmen in forming a perspective deeply embedded on Stalinist tribalism in order to establish a national ethnic identity.

    To this end he asserted a lot on the Turkmen ethnic identity as a measure to separate his people from the neighboring states. Furthermore, he adopted the name Turkmenbashi (Father of Turkmen) and such attempts was to make his country a distinct political system based on a distinct ethnicity. Thus, he made himself the Turkmen National Symbol of solidarity and unity. It’s been argued in the article that religion has been most used when people are denied the right to directly express their own ethnic identity or have to accept an identity other than their own.

    Militant Islam has become the dominant form of identification and main route of resistance to central government authorities. For instance, Uighurs were Buddhists who converted to Islam. Due to the fact that in the presence of Chinese (Khan) dominations they could not express their ethnic identity, they chose Islam to symbolize and identify them. Some chose rather unorthodox methods to express their identity and symbolization as a factor that would assert their identity was indeed different from the previously discussed cases.

    For instance, a group was formed under the name of “Reebok Mafia”, although they spoke the same language but they would differ in terms of the place of residence and ethnicity. Thus, they chose to wear clothes products of the Reebok Company to be identified. In some instances ethnic identity has been used to pursue sexual gratification. In the case of Kirgizstan, it is legitimate for a man and women to elope or men kidnap the woman in order to marry them, the specific term coined for this tradition is Bride Capture.

    In an interview that was conducted with one of the families it become evident that men use this ethnic psyche or value to cover for their acts of sexual assaults or rape. Ethnicity indeed has played a significant role in shaping the societies in the 21st century, though considered an under-developed and orthodox, even antique way of creating a state or national identity in a world where tolerance of different cultures and ethnics are a growing and important factor in social and official interactions.

    Furthermore, group feelings in 21st century in developed and post-modern societies tend to rely more on social co-existence and harmony and to some extent on civic nationalism rather than tribalism or ethnic based identities. In conclusion, from my point of view, ethnic identities, especially when a state is formed based on such standards belongs to the past, as a result of various micro-societies divided by religion, language and ethnicity, Afghans have suffered many vicious atrocities committed by the rival groups which tended to have a great deal of ethnocentric values and perspectives.

    After the U. S invasion of Afghanistan, one of the realms that has been often criticized by the educated politicians is the division of power and authorities in the government based on the idea of four major ethnicities. This thought has undermined the government performance, effectiveness and efficiency, another course that might correspond with the growing tensions on this particular issue is to have meritocracy as the basis of selection and elimination of public servants in the governmental agencies.

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     Blood on the Steppes: Ethnicity, Power, and Conflict. (2016, Nov 08). Retrieved from

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