Protest and ethnic identity: Resisting an institutionalized ethnic identity structure

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This thesis explores under which circumstances resistance, against a highly institutionalized ethnic identity structure where ethno-nationalism is promoted, can emerge in the context of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The research examines a case that contradicts the predominantly structural nature in the ethnic identity and conflict debate which puts an emphasis on how the structure determines the affiliations people have with their ethnicity and generates ethnic conflict with very little attention for individual agency. The student protests in Jajce show that a structure where ethnic identity is salient can be undermined and bottom-up resistance against a system of division and institutionalized ethnicity is possible. Through inter-group contact a divisive ethnic identity structure, institutionalized in many layers of a community, can be undermined and opposed. The findings support the claims made in contact-theory and uncovers the value of this theory in explaining how resistance against divisive ethnic identity structures can emerge. Integrating contact theory into the study on how bottom-up resistance against an ethnically salient structure in conflict or post-conflict situation emerges can therefore be a good way to generate new insights in this field. Additionally the study identifies several elements that can contribute to transferring the emergence of bottom-up protest into a successful opposition.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen