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The Military as a Distinct Ethnic or Quasi-Ethnic Identity in Developing Countries
Armed Forces and Society (2008)
  • Daniel Zirker, University of Waikato
  • Constantine P. Danopoulos, San Jose State University
  • Alan Simpson, University of Waikato

Culture, identity, and ethnicity are central to understanding political behavior and the complex questions of military behavior in developing countries. Drawing on distinctive military periods in Fiji, Pakistan, and Uganda, each of which exemplifies, respectively, the main elements of the three schools of thought regarding ethnicity—primordialist, instrumentalist, and constructivist—this study argues that the fundamental behavior patterns associated with ethnicity relate directly to the problems and promises of military establishments in developing countries. By recognizing and understanding the dynamics of the culture of identity, military establishments in new political systems may better understand their own ethnic or "quasi-ethnic" politics. As developing military establishments build a quasi-ethnic identity, this will reinforce the growth of nationalism, which, in an age of ethnicity, would seem to posit a direct threat to democracy.

Publication Date
January, 2008
Publisher Statement
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Citation Information
Daniel Zirker, Constantine P. Danopoulos and Alan Simpson. "The Military as a Distinct Ethnic or Quasi-Ethnic Identity in Developing Countries" Armed Forces and Society Vol. 34 Iss. 2 (2008)
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