Ph.D. Dissertation - Nationalism, Language and Islam: a cross-regional comparative study of Muslim minority conflict

Tristan James Mabry mabry at
Tue Aug 21 19:23:42 UTC 2007


	University of Pennsylvania


	Nationalism, Language And Islam: A Cross-Regional Comparative Study  
of Muslim Minority Separatist Conflict


	Tristan James Mabry


	Brendan O’Leary, Lauder Professor of Political Science


	August 3, 2007


	This dissertation identifies and tests a theoretical anomaly in the  
scholarship of nationalism and Islam.  The modernist paradigm of  
ethnonationalism posits a shared culture and language are the locus  
of nationalist identities in their corresponding nation-states.  In a  
model attributed principally to Ernest Gellner, industrialization  
promotes the creation of modular citizens in an ideally homogeneous  
nation-state. Modernized urbanites then share a high culture of  
seamless communication, cultivated and recreated by a system of state  
education.  Individual social mobility requires literacy and general  
economic prosperity depends on a shared and standardized language.  A  
contrasting theory posits Muslim societies are the exception to this  
rule: a shared religion, Islam, and a shared sacred language, Arabic,  
are the locus of political identities in Muslim states.  In a model  
attributed not only to Ernest Gellner, but also Adrian Hastings,  
Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, Islamic culture precludes the  
emergence and mobilization of ethnonational identities.  High culture  
and Islam are fused; public education promotes religious  
instruction.  Ethnicity and native languages are politically  
irrelevant since the polity is defined by membership in a community  
of faith, or ummah.  In this view, claims for autonomy among Muslim  
minorities in multiethnic states are interpreted as religious  
conflicts rather than ethnic or national conflicts.  To test the  
hypothetical propositions of Muslim national exceptionalism, the  
leadership of separatist parties and organizations were interviewed  
regarding specific reasons for separatism, and whether the group and  
its followers mobilize in support of Islam or ethnolinguistic  
nationalism, their faith or their flag, a nation of Islam or a Muslim  
nation.  Field work was conducted in a cross-regional comparative  
study of six separatist conflicts, including Kurds in Iraq, Uyghurs  
in China, Sindhis in Pakistan, Kashmiri-speakers in India, Acehnese  
in Indonesia and Moros in the Philippines.  In sum, these movements  
frequently invoke the doctrine of national self-determination to  
protect a minority culture and language, while political Islam  
functions infrequently in this role.  Muslim minority populations  
that share a unique print culture are likely to mobilize in support  
of language rights, especially in regard to public education; Muslim  
minorities without written vernaculars are not.


Tristan James Mabry, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Government
Georgetown University

Suite 681 ICC
37th & 0 Streets
Washington, D.C. 20057

e-mail	tjm76 at georgetown
Fax		(202) 687-5858
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