Fighting Words: Language Policy and Ethnic Relations in Asia

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Language policy is a sensitive issue in most countries. In countries where more than one language is spoken — the vast majority — language policies affect the ability of individuals and groups to participate in government, to be treated fairly by governmental agencies, to have access to government services, to take advantage of educational opportunities, and to pursue economic success.Language policies also affect the prospects for survival of ethnic groups that define themselves on the basis of language. Assimilationist policies can threaten the existence of minority groups as distinct entities. Accommodationist policies might allow many ethnic groups to flourish but weaken national unity. In many countries,disputes over language policies have led to ethnic tensions and, in some cases, to violent ethnic conflicts.This book analyzes the impact of different kinds of language policies on ethnic relations in fifteen multiethnic countries in Asia and the Pacific. The analyses include discussion of the origins of different language policies and of how the policies have evolved over time. The book develops policy recommendations, both for individual countries and in more general terms.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Two major themes emerge from these excellent case studies. First,bumbling or malicious elites can do major damage when they mishandle language policy — an issue fraught with danger in multiethnic societies. Second, and more important, farsighted policymakers can craft language policies that lessen the destructive potential of ethnic conflict. The editors should be applauded for focusing attention on an understudied yet crucial tool of conflict management."—Stephen John Stedman, Senior Fellow, Center for International Security and Cooperation and Institute for International Studies, Stanford University

"This is a fine successor to Brown and Ganguly's earlier volume,Government Policies and Ethnic Relations in Asiaand the Pacific,and features international scholarship of the highest order on a vital—and much neglected—subject. The book offers a window on conflict and governance in Asia that will be of inestimable value to students of both comparative and international politics." Kanti Bajpai, School of International Studies,Jawaharlal Nehru University

"This is a fine successor to Brown and Ganguly's earlier volume,*Government Policies and Ethnic Relations in Asiaand the Pacific*, and features international scholarship of the highest order on a vital — and much neglected — subject. The bookoffers a window on conflict and governance in Asia that will be of inestimable value to students of both comparative and international politics."—Kanti Bajpai, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Michael E. Brown is Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.

Sumit Ganguly is Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Language Policy and National Development in India 21
Ch. 2 The Politics of Language Policy in Pakistan 51
Ch. 3 Language, Identity, and the State in Bangladesh 81
Ch. 4 Ethnolinguistic Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka 105
Ch. 5 Language Policy in Modern Burma 143
Ch. 6 The Politics of Language in Thailand and Laos 177
Ch. 7 Language Policy and Ethnic Relations in Vietnam 211
Ch. 8 The Politics of Language Policies in Malaysia and Singapore 239
Ch. 9 Language Policy and the Promotion of National Identity in Indonesia 263
Ch. 10 Harmonizing Linguistic Diversity in Papua New Guinea 291
Ch. 11 Language Policy and Ethnic Relations in the Philippines 319
Ch. 12 The Evolution of Language Policies in China 353
Ch. 13 The Evolution of Language Policies and National Identity in Taiwan 385
Ch. 14 Language Policy and Ethnic Relations in Asia 413
Suggestions for Further Reading 449
Contributors 463
Index 467
About the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs 483
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