Ethnic Identity And National Identity

736 Words3 Pages
It seems necessary to begin this essay by discussing the differences between a nation and a state before one can analyze what Collier meant when he declared, “leaders must build a nation before they can build a state” (Collier, 2009, pg. 52). A nation represents a collection of people that are united by the sharing of similar cultures, decent, history, and/or languages within a particular region. In contrast, a state represents a region that is considered to have an organized political structure beneath a single government. Therefore, in order to build a nation first, leaders must unite the people with similar backgrounds and languages. After a nation is built, leaders can proceed can continue to rule and shape this unified population within a structured political system. The question now remains as to how this information directly relays into the second chapter of Collier’s book? Collier has presented the notions of ethnic identity and national identity. These two types of identities clash within certain international governments. Collier explained, “A society can function perfectly well if its citizens hold multiple identities, but problems arise when those subnational identities arouse loyalties that override loyalty to the nation as whole” (Collier, 2009, pg. 51). Essentially this quote explains that ethnic identities create a sense of loyalty to one’s ethnic group rather than one’s national identity. This type of loyalty causes discrepancies within the political structure of one’s nation. Collier focuses on the Kenyan government to help represent his claims. Within Kenya alone there are forty-eight ethnic groups (Collier, 2009, pg. 51). During the 2007 Kenyan Elections there were multiple candidates from differing ethnic ... ... middle of paper ... ...mation could be used to draw a correlation between the predatory view of the state that had been discussed by Clark, Golder, & Golder. When ethnic identities are established, as had been previously mentioned, one may feel a strong sense of loyalty towards their ethnic identity. In this case, candidates may use their ethnic identities to their advantage. Back to the original question, why must leaders build a nation first? Based on the evidence that Collier has provided, it could be said that in order to achieve a more unified and organized political structure, one must unify the total population. Before one can build the desired state, the people must be able to remain unified despite their differing ethnic identities to function properly within a state. If a stronger sense of national identity is established, the loyalties of ethnic identities will be less prolific.
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