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Free Example of Ethnic and Nationalist Politics Essay

Nationalism is one of the most powerful tools for a nation to have among its citizens. In this case, different political elites tend to create visions according to which people will be in one voice to build their nation. According to David Brown, in Southeast Asia, different nations build their nationalism based on three visions. These visions are civic, ethno-cultural, and multi-cultural. To show these visions, Brown argues that national identities are understood as a contingent and variable ideological construction. Therefore, the main idea Brown suggest is that national identities in Southeast Asia are a contingent and variable construction of the three visions.

The first point provided by Brown is convergence and construction of national identities based on the ethno-cultural vision. According to Brown, many Southeast Asian states are mobilizing majority and minority ethnics in building their nations. The second key point is that Southeast Asian nations are converging and constructing national identities based on the civic vision. This vision tends to accompany the ethno-culture vision. Southeast Asian nations believe that there is no ethnic community greater than the other. For this reason, from the civic perspective, the whole state represents one community. The final point that Brown is putting forward is convergence and construction of national identities based on the multi-cultural vision. In this case, states believe that for proper development, they have to embrace all cultures in nation building. Therefore, Brown concludes that nationalism in Southeast Asian nations is in one common language.

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From Brown’s point of view, in the past, Southeast Asian states used to have differences in ethnicities. Different ethnic groups were fighting and opposing each other for their own political gain. However, in the early 1980s, Southeast Asian nations realized that the only way to be strong was to come to terms with their ethnic differences. Anthony Reid supports Brown’s views by stating that Southeast Asian nations are mobilizing their states to speak in one voice. In conclusion, Reid says that Southeast Asian nations are doing their best to deal with their multi-cultural differences for the purpose of building states with a strong political system, which will lead to greater economic development.

On the other hand, Amitav Archaya has another point of view about nationalism and ethnicity of nations in Southeast Asia. According to Archaya, many scholars in the field tend to look at Southeast Asia nations as a single nation. Instead, they should consider perceiving the region as a whole. In this case, Archaya states that this region is currently embracing nationalism so that they will be able to come together in unison and show the world that they are a force to reckon. For this reason, Archaya concludes that the key point for the formation of nationalism in the Southeast Asian region is to improve the economy of the region. On the other hand, Brown argues that these nations were forming nationalism for the purpose of eradicating colonization. Therefore, the two scholars show an amount of difference in their views.


According to the analysis provided above, nationalism can either break or make a nation. When nations tend to base their nationalism on racism or ethnic differences, they are likely to break. However, if they embrace nationalism in order to overcome their ethnic differences, they are sure to make a strong nation. In this case, Brown has been able to prove these ideas stating that in the past, Southeast Asian nations used to be divided. Therefore, they were not able to protect themselves against colonization. However, after embracing ethnicity as one people with a common language, different nations have been able to move forward as a nation. Brown portrays this by showing that there are three visions that Southeast Asian states tend to apply when it comes to national identity.

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