How Political Movements Form Around Language and Ethnicity.

Oren Paisner

Professor Bullen

Final Project


How Political Movements Form Around Language and Ethnicity

            Throughout the history of human kind there has been struggle between different cultures and ethnicities. A good example of this, the ethnic cleansing that took place in Kosovo, demonstrates exactly what happens when there is a clash of political ideas in a country. Political movements form around language, ethnicity, and religion because of the beliefs that are associated with them.

Religion seems to be a strong motivator for political movements in a lot of countries. When China invaded Tibet in 1951 and installed a communist dictatorship in 1953, they destroyed many monasteries and temples. They did this to the Tibetans to show them who was boss. In this case, the political movement of the Chinese communist regime formed from the belief that Tibetan Buddhism was a religion that cultivated opposition to Chinese interests.


Political movements can also form around language. In the Canadian province of Quebec there is a separatist movement trying to make Quebec an independent country. A significant reason for this is that the main language in the province of Quebec is French. In the rest of Canada, English is the primary language.  Jane Jacobs, an American-Canadian journalist comments that “Canadians who are indifferent to the question of Quebec separatism are likely either to identify primarily with their own province, such as Newfoundland or British Colombia, or else to identify with a Canada which -for all they care emotionally- may or may not include Quebec.” (Excerpt of the Question of Separatism) This idea ties in with political movements forming around language because the Canadian provinces that are indifferent to the Separatism are dominantly English speaking provinces.


Ethnicity can be and often is a huge motivator for political movements. Kosovo underwent ethnic turmoil after the breakup of Yugoslavia which resulted in lots of violence and many deaths. “At its peak in 1999 Serb ethnic cleansing had forced 750,000 of Kosovo’s 2 million ethnic Albanian residents from their homes, mostly to camps in Albania.” (Rubenstein, 251) This clearly demonstrates how the desire for less ethnic diversity can motivate a political movement to try and reach that goal by means of violence.

Ethnicity, religion and language don’t only cause political movements to do unspeakable things, but often they bring people together in their differences. One of the things I never take for granted is living in a country where people actually bond over the differences they have instead of fighting over those differences. That is why it is important to understand how Ethnicity, Religion and Language influence political movements so that we can do our part as individuals to make sure that those influences are positive.


Works Cited N.p., n.d. Web.

Jacobs, Jane. “Excerpt of The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle over             ____Sovereignty by Jane Jacobs.” – Independence of Quebec. N.p., 12 Apr. 2011. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.

Rubenstein, James M. The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography. Upper _____Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

“Where Is Tibet?” YoWangducom. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.

Edited by: Ellie, Jacob and Kishan


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