In Pursuit of Ethnic Politics
Voters, Parties & Policies in Kenya & Zambia
Skrifter utgivna av Statsvetenskapliga
foreningen i Uppsala, No. 160

By Karolina Hulterstrom
August 2004
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 9155459919
278 pages, 6 " x 9 "
$56.50 Paper Original


This is a Ph.D. thesis. Most instances of politicized ethnicity are non-violent rather than violent. Yet, scholarly attention has primarily been directed at explaining violent ethnic conflict. This study is an attempt to remedy this theoretical void. It seeks to answer the question what non-violent ethnic politics actually represents. The first part of the book is a pursuit of tools that make possible better description of non-violent ethnic politics.

The combination of several manifestations of ethnic politics, relating both to the participatory and policy dimensions of politics, is essential for such an endeavor. The subsequent empirical study is devoted to describing and comparing the Kenyan and Zambian polities during the 1990s. Politics in Kenya was highly influenced by ethnic concerns. Voters, parties and policies could all be distinctly placed along an ethnic cleavage.

The image of Zambian politics is more ambiguous. Voting did, to a limited extent, seem to reflect an ethnic conflict line. Somewhat surprisingly, parties were on the other hand not structured by ethnicity. Government policies showed few objective signs of any ethnic inclination, but were despite this empirical study increasingly perceived in terms of ethnic bias by Zambian observers. The empirical study clearly confirms the need to not focus on merely one but several aspects of politics to assess accurately the extent of ethnic politics in any given society.

African Studies


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