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Ethnicity conflicts case study- a look at South Africa and the Apartheid Era.

This week's case study is a look at ethnic conflict so let's start the discussion with three
definitions, for the purpose of this discussion, ethnicity, ethnic conflict and the term
In his piece Ethnic Conflicts and their Causes writer Gursel Ismayilov, Jyochi University,
Tokyo defines ethnicity as:
"Ethnic groups are historically given collectivities or psychological communities whose
members share a persisting sense of common interest and identity that is based on
some combination of shared historical experience and valued cultural traits - beliefs,
culture and religion, language, ways of life, a common homeland. Such groups exist
over time, even as they emerge and may well change and disappear" (Ismayilov).

Ismayilov goes on to define an ethnic conflict as:

"Ethnic conflicts can be defined as conflicts between ethnic groups within a multi-ethnic
state, which have been going on some time, which may appear to be unsolvable to the
parties caught up in them." " ethnic conflict is a dispute about important political,
economic, cultural, or territorial issues between two or more ethnic communities. Many
ethnic conflicts result in a significant loss of life, a serious denial of basic human rights
and considerable material destruction, some escalating into interethnic or internal war"

Finally, for the purposes of this course, we will use the following definition of the word

"...a rigid former policy of segregating

and economically and politically oppressing the nonwhite population. 2. any system or
practice that separates people according to color, ethnicity, caste, etc." (,

It is very important that everyone understand apartheid and its history, so please review
the following You Tube video that gives a brief review of the history of apartheid in
South Africa;

So, now that we understand the history behind South Africa and the Apartheid Era, we
have to ask ourselves why did this happen? This is a complex question to answer
because it overlaps many historical events of the time. The simple answer would be
that because those with capital interests in South Africa at the time felt in order to fully
exploit the rich natural resources of South Africa they would need to enact laws that
would bind the majority of the country's population (blacks) to something akin to slavery,
thus allowing them to profit from the resources and denying the native born people of
the region the bounty of their land.
Thus, by regulating the country's native population to lower class citizens, those with the
capital interests in the region could then exploit the native population not just of the
region's many resources, but of their labor. To do this, the British inhabitants of the
region (called Afrikaner nationalists) basically seized much of the region's land which in
turn forced the native black people to work as "migrant" labor. Besides the capital
interests issue, there were other influential issues at work in the region to include the
influence on the governing body (the Nationalist Party) at the time by white supremacist
ideas (some of which coming from the German/Nazi experience), further oppressing the
native population.

Basically, Apartheid was the result of greed, fear and the

disenfranchisement/enslavement of a native people. It would seem fair to say Apartheid
isn't really a new concept, especially when it is used as a tool of socio-economic
"planning" when you consider the historical events that brought it into being. History
shows us there are several precursor forms of Apartheid that have been used in other
regions of the world. Sadly, one of the best examples of this would be the United States
and how it achieved great economic growth by the exploitation of the slave labor of
Black Americans and by removing Native Americans from their lands. It would seem
fair to say the Whites in South Africa, during the Apartheid Era, simply took the
ideas/lessons learned from the U.S. (and others) experience and simply refined and
implemented them, taking it to the next level.

Case Study Focus Question

Considering the history of the Apartheid Era in South Africa, do some research and
discuss the actions and events that led up to the abolishment of Apartheid. Using the
conflict resolution tactics discussed thus far in the course textbook, through the use of
hindsight, could there have been a solution to this ethnic conflict?